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A Critique of Colette Dowling's Excerpt of the Cinderella Complex

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The "battle of the sexes" that rages on today is just as strong as it has always been. Although an ever-increasing number of opinions are being heard and made known, many people are still ignorant and hold on to traditional views that can sometimes be damaging. Even though there has been much progress in the ways of communication and understanding, much is still needed to be done and improved upon. Colette Dowling is a well-respected author on women's psychological issues who uses her personal experiences and insights to enlighten women about themselves. In Dowling's excerpt of The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence, she provides a clearly written and rational explanation on the psychological issues of dependency women exhibit, but lacks in supporting evidence and examples.

One night she is lying miserable in bed, sick. She then becomes conscious of the fact that she is not despondent because she feels ill, but because there is no one there to comfort her. She realizes now that this is the way it has always been, she has known no other way. Throughout her childhood she was raised with the notion that someday somehow she would be whisked away by her prince charming and live happily ever after. She did not know what it was like to be truly independent. Nor was she raised to be comfortable with it. Boys were trained to be self-sufficient early on while her parents and society taught her that she did not need to be self-reliant; that she only needed to hold on until her "savior" came.

This person (or so she thought) appeared after she had been raising her children alone for the previous four years. As their relationship grew, they reasoned that it would be good if they moved in together. Soon after moving in together, she found herself sinking into the same routines that she had in her marriage. Slowly but surely she fell into the groove of being a "good house wife" and stopped feeling the need to pursue her career. She found this surprisingly easy and natural. To take the place of her writing she began doing household chores and started cooking again. Within no time she had gained weight and was starting to feel the inadequacies that go along with not having to support one self. She started to doubt her effectiveness as a writer and ability for self-sufficiency.

Her loss of ambition also created an unwanted hardship on the relationship between her and her boyfriend. He did not like being the only one bringing the money into the relationship and felt as if the burden of survival was solely on him. When he confronted her about this, she was both infuriated and hurt. She did not feel that he appreciated the abode she was making for them there. Subconsciously, she felt that it was only right that the man of the house should work harder and be the provider for her and her children.

As her need of dependency deepened, she soon found herself asking Lowell (her partner) for consent of her activities and desires. During this time her sense of self-worth diminished drastically. She saw herself as inferior to him and felt justified in feeling this way. After all, was she not raised to feel this way? Finding all of her thoughts of inadequacy very disturbing, she resorted to what she always did when she had a problem. She expressed her anxieties and fears on paper. Persistently, she searched for a editor that would publish her book. Finally she found one and discovered that she was not alone, by any stretch of the imagination, in her need for dependency on men and all of the feelings that go along with them.

Dowling only includes one example in her book to provide for the theory that she proposes. In this example she realizes how truly dependent she is on others for her sense of security and peace of mind. Although this insight disturbs her, she finds it very difficult to stray from the path that was so clearly laid out for her throughout her lifetime. In her argument she reasons that it is not biology but cultural training that has made true independence so difficult for women. Her personal experiences certainly contribute to the persuasiveness of her argument but since there is only one of them, it can be easily shrugged off as mere opinion. What about women who were not raised as she was? If she had perhaps went about inquiring women from different walks of life, and then based her argument on that; it would have been much more effective.

Perhaps she would have been more successful in proving her claim if she had narrowed it down a little. If she had stated that women who have been raised in traditional two parent homes in which the man is the primary provider, she would have done a better job. She certainly cannot speak for all women. Her reference of knowledge is only what she has experienced. What she does not know she cannot help, but she can recognize the fact that she is ignorant in some areas and try not to speak as if she were an authority on all.

Dowling provides a smooth reading experience with the first person narration of a story. As she tells her story, she provides



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