There are reasons why the traditional image of a family in the car includes dad driving and mom in the passenger seat.
It’s not that moms can’t drive. Most moms do lots and lots of driving, going to work, to shopping, to ferry kids. There is a reason that the joke sign “Mom’s Taxi” is often found.
Women have learned that having direct control of the car isn’t always the best choice. Dads like to feel like they are in control, which keeps them engaged, and Moms often have other issues to attend to, like the children.
Sometimes it feels nice to just let someone else do the work, and sometimes it cuts down problems if you let others feel like they are in charge.
Not having direct control of a situation, you see, is something that moms have have to learn to live with. Coaching, coaxing, guiding and helping are required to assist kids (and husbands) do better, do the right thing.
This is one reason why the first thing women look for is someone who is a good partner, someone who is responsive to her voice, her charms, her needs. She knows that she is going to spend a lot of time in their world so she better be able to shape their worldview to consider her requirements and desires.
She doesn’t get that choice with her children or her parents, though. They have to be sensitized, understood, trained.
Women learn to take power in the world indirectly, letting other people feel control. This is the power of presence, of seduction and many men learn it too, especially as they mature and understand the limits of direct power, understand the benefits of shared viewpoints.
My sister’s friend’s father just got a heart valve replacement and soon after that, an emergency installation of pacemakers. Never having been a mom, or a manager for that matter, she has been struggling with her lack of direct control over the process, having to trust the medics and her father.
This has prompted discussions about how I took care of my parents for their last decade and how much I mastered indirect power. From letting my father continue to drive while I coached from the backseat with tongue clicks to making sure my mother had something to whinge about, I gave them their head, standing back and to the side to their last day, always there, but always respectful.
My sister notes that she isn’t as fast or as polished as I am at that kind of presence. Others have noted that I am not quick to take direct control over situation.
The first question I asked at the first trans conference I attended was about how we shift the way we take power in the world as we gendershift. There is still no easy or simple answer, just as there is no easy or simple answer to how women take power in the world. Sometimes we just have to take direct power and sometimes we take indirect power, but in the long run, the real skill for everyone is having a wide range of techniques in our tool bag that we can use in the moment. Sometimes we each need to lead by orders and demands, others by encouragement and affirmation.
Our nature, though, shapes the way those choices work for us. Externally, being pretty makes seduction easier, and being loud makes demands more pronounced, but internally, having a feminine heart makes supportive power more comfortable.
Women may take direct power when needed, but that doesn’t mean we don’t also appreciate a good partner who will share the driving.
Power isn’t always direct and masculine. But that doesn’t make it not power.