In my writing I often talk about doing what's right for you in your given situation (because what is rewarded or punished varies by situation) and doing things that are beneficial (rewarding) and not harmful for you (punishing). This fits with my last few posts because defense mechanisms (previous post), understanding the pro-woman line (previous post), and acting feminine in order to be treated better (previous post) all make sense under operant conditioning. There is no labeling women as strong or weak, smart or dumb, leaders or followers, independent or brainwashed, basically no judgements about the validity, righteousness, or intelligence of their ideas and choices. As long as what they are doing brings rewards and avoids punishments their behaviour makes sense. The person is not attacked (no ad hominem attacks). BUT what one can argue is about is whether a person is behaving in a way that will get the BEST, most FREQUENT, and most LIKELY rewards from PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY MATTER (e.g., have power to make their lives better). Their choice of behaviour can be criticized on these grounds because their actions may be against their long-term best interests. I think this may best be explained with the examples below.
Example 1) A young woman dresses like a male gangster because she feels afraid of her neighborhood and sad and angry about her life. She says she does it because she likes it, it is her way of expressing herself, and a lot of people do it:
-she feels powerful and invincible when others fear her
-safe, protected, and accepted when in a group of friends dressed the same way
-pride and confidence when others admire her style and dress in the same way (because others think she's cool)
-comfortable because the clothes are loose and warm
-safe and protected when she passes men on the street who ignore instead of harass her
- she feels anger and fear when police follow her around and harass her because she looks like a criminal
-disappointment and hopeless when she is turned down for jobs
-frustration, disappointment, and hopelessness when teachers have low expectations from her, fail to encourage her, and punish her more harshly than others
-sadness, loneliness, anger, and rejection when family and past friends criticize her appearance and behaviour and abandon her
-sadness and loneliness when people stare, avoid, or negatively stereotype her
-fear and anger when other people challenge her and act aggressively
-feels inadequate and unattractive when men don't pay attention to her
For some women the enjoyment of the rewards will outweigh the punishments and they will not change. Basically for the woman who dresses gangster, feeling safe, protected, and powerful outweighs the unpleasantness of being avoided and thought of as a trouble maker. However for others the punishments will be too much and they will abandon their gangster style. For other women the fear of the punishments will prevent them from ever attempting to dress like a gangster. In a safe environment this behaviour would be against a woman's best interests because it would unnecessarily get her in trouble with parents, some friends, teachers, strangers, and the police.
|Saana Lathan, Gabrielle Union, and Nia Long, I just call them|
EBW Gold! They are just gorgeous!!!
Example 2) A young woman dresses like a girly-girl because she wants to be liked by other women and men and does not currently feel liked or attractive. She says she does it because she likes it, it's her way of expressing herself, and a lot of others do it.
-she feels powerful because she can get others to treat her well and do things for her
-cared for and adored because people treat her like she is delicate and precious
-pride and confidence because other women admire and compliment her
-attractive and desirable because men notice her and ask her out
-pride and confidence because she looks a lot like the women who are held up as ideal by society
Punishments (cons; so I did finally come up with some drawbacks to being ultra-feminine)
- she feels disappointment, frustration, and sadness when some people assume she is weak, unintelligent, or brainwashed or another negative stereotype because she dresses in a traditional manner (e.g., whitewashed)
-sadness, disappointment, loneliness when other women criticize, insult, and ridicule her out of jealousy
-hopelessness and frustration trying to maintain her appearance and live up to beauty and fashion standards
-discomfort from wearing certain things (e.g., nylons, high heels, uncomfortable garments etc.).
-annoyance and discomfort from the unwanted attention of some men
Once again for some women the enjoyment of the rewards will outweigh the punishments and they will not change. For someone who takes this route the attention, approval, and favoritism outweighs the cattiness from other women and the hassle of maintaining their appearance. For these women (like myself) the appeal of the rewards outweighs the punishments because the people most important to me will be supportive. For other women the fear of the punishments will prevent them from ever attempting to dress like a girly girl. It could be the case that this behaviour could get a woman in trouble in a dangerous environment where it is better to go unnoticed or where jealous women have the power to make her life miserable.