My older son only recently turned 2, and already the term has reared its ugly head. Maybe he reached for me, or called earnestly for me, in the company of some acquaintances or other family members, and his action was quickly followed by the response of “Aw, he loves his mama. Just make sure he doesn’t turn into a mama’s boy!” Just hearing the 2 words in conjunction, causes me to bristle. What exactly IS the problem with being a mama’s boy? Why should I buy into an ideal that seeks to deliberately sever the loving bond of trust and total security that I, as their mother, provide to all of my children, male and female? And who exactly stands to benefit by my sons, especially, turning away from the influence of their Mother?
I can’t think of anyone, other than their future mate, who will place greater priority over my sons’ well being than myself, and their father do. Yet, even at his tender age the subtle, and so utterly counter intuitive message, to question his need for his mother, is already pervasive. Does he really need protection from me, his creator, who carried and bore him to the world? I protect, feed, clothe, bathe, heal, teach, discipline, play with, comfort and love him. But the message is as clear as day, that remaining under my influence is not in his best interest, and will actually make him less of a “man”, even an undesirable or unsuitable mate. It’s insulting. It’s hypocritical. It’s illogical. And it’s downright bullshit.
Interestingly, I have always found a direct correlation between how a man treats his mother and how he treats me. Sometimes this actually forced me to evaluate whether I was unintentionally acting like a man’s mother, thereby reenacting the dynamics and behavior patterns of their relationship. I have ended romances purely on the basis alone, of how a man treats his mother. In one particular instance, I actually walked out on a date, when he casually referred to his mother as a ‘bitch.’
How one interacts with one’s mother is often an indication of how one will engage with the world. Yet, having a loving, strong bond with mom, especially for boys and men, is often interpreted negatively. We all know, because we’ve been told: No one wants a mama’s boy, but why not? What’s the real root of this association between loving and listening to one’s mother, and being spineless, a weakling etc…?
There is no question that, especially for boys, being linked to their mother is negatively correlated with weakness. Yet our mothers are so often the strongest people we will ever know. As more families are headed solely by single mothers and more women increasingly move into the workplace and achieve higher level degrees and earn higher salaries, women’s position in society, the workplace and the home, is rapidly shifting. Yet, instead of being afforded greater respect and admiration, mothers are still being ushered to the bottom of the list, when it comes to who society tells us our boys and men should be influenced by.
When we throw around the term “mama’s boy” it immediately conjures images of a sap, a man with no backbone, whose life is governed and his decision making perpetually under the influence of, dear ole mama. Whether there is any truth to that imagery is quite subjective, and yet that’s what we have all been trained to believe. Calling a male a Mama’s Boy is really saying to him, “You are Not a Man.”
What is it we are so afraid of mother’s telling their sons, that we would put their very manhood up for debate?
I think the real question is: who stands to lose the most if men listen to their mothers? Now, some women, and a majority of trashy women’s magazines, would say that it is daughters-in-law who have the most to lose, by a man under the heavy influence of his mom. Personally, I believe that this is, in fact, just another item in the long list of society’s ploys, to pit women against each other. This ties into why there’s such disdain for mama’s boys. Women are constantly being told that we are the catty ones, the ones subject to flights of PMS induced, emotional fancy. We hear the message repeated throughout our lives, that we are the creators of petty conflict.
And what a successful distraction that has turned out to be. Women are force-fed the belief that we should keep our priorities focused on competitiveness between each other, over things like “thigh gap” and being a ‘MILF’. All the while women/mothers are still continuing to handle the household work (it is well documented that even with 2 working parents, women still do the majority of house work) and are increasingly the primary income earners. Yet, society hasn’t given up on convincing us, and especially our male children, that they shouldn’t listen to us, that we are not to be trusted. The real truth is, the people who are the most afraid of a united front of women, and sons who put priority on their mother’s words are, quite simply, the warmongers.
If boys put their mamas before they put, for instance, their country’s need for foreign oil, and the supposed message of spreading “democracy,” this country wouldn’t win any wars. If moms were the greatest influence in the world, in all likeliness, the world wouldn’t have any soldiers. Despite the message pumped forth by mass media propaganda, it is in fact, not women or mothers, who drag us all into their petty, self-serving conflicts. The patriarchal, military industrial complex needs volunteers to give their lives to its wars and mass murders in the name of power and acquisition. If men decided that their family was of a higher priority than their patriotic devotion to the narrow focus driving political gain and corporate greed, there would be far fewer individuals to lose their lives in battle. This is not to discount the women who have proudly stood beside their male counterparts to serve our nation, losing their limbs and lives on the front lines. However, it is hard to argue, that war and the priority placed upon military fortitude, is still very much a masculine ideal.
What does the undesirability of mama’s boys really say about modern societal values? When we encourage men to separate from their mothers as early as possible but conversely, our daughters are expected to remain ‘daddy’s little girl’, forever. The notion of a woman as forever her “daddy’s girl” perpetuates the idea of women remaining subservient to men, from infancy to adulthood, and further serves the powers that be. But there is currently a shift in the actual dynamics of power, influence, and income earning potential between men and women, in both the home and workplace, that society’s message isn’t keeping pace with. With more households than ever before in history, being headed by single mothers, the hypocrisy that underlies the mockery of mama’s boys becomes glaring. If boys are less likely to have fathers in their lives, and they are at the same time, interpreted as “wussies” for simply being guided by the influence and priorities of their mothers, it seems logical that there will be more and more confused, lost little boys out there.
The outcome of this could be, for example, the advent of ridiculous, disgusting behavior like the “knock out” game, which is a game in which young males seek “sucker” targets, like old ladies, and run up and literally sucker punch them in the face, an obviously revolting behavioral display that has quickly gone viral. And maybe it’s because these kids are lacking not only the counterpart role of a father in their lives, but the belief that listening to their mothers for too long will make them social pariahs. Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the antiquated attitudes and priorities of yester-year, which our children are subjected to. Especially now, as the disparity between those values and the reality of the lives kids are leading, grows ever wider. At this point, I mean really, what have we got to lose?…Who’s afraid of a Big, Bad, Mama’s Boy?… Not me.