Life of Liz

Rationalization Hamster, part 1

In Authentic Life, Out of the Comfort Zone, Rationalization Hamster, Wisdom on January 9, 2013 at 6:09 am

I’ve learned so much about myself and women in general from reading blogs written by men!  One thing some of my favorite manosphere bloggers do very well is give context to behaviors – which in turns makes it very tangible to see and understand.  A great example?  The term Rationalization Hamster.

The Private Man wrote a great post where he describes the “Rationalization Hamster” in detail.  It is basically an “analogy for the thought processes used by women to turn bad behavior and bad decisions into acceptable ones to herself and her friends” … hmm, I’ve never done that, have I?  hamster

As the mother of 2 college aged daughters, who until recently were fed popular feminist beliefs by yours truly, I was more than a little curious about how my daughters might utilize their rationalization hamsters to justify bad behavior.  Below is a summary of a conversation I had with our oldest while she was home from break.

Basically Elizabeth relayed to me a ‘situation’ that had unfolded on New Year’s Eve for one of her sorority sisters, mind you our daughter was at home (with us) on New Year’s Eve).  We’ll call this sorority sister BD (for ‘historically makes Bad Decisions regarding her own behavior with boys).  It seems BD had downed 4-5 shots of tequila within the hour (I am told this is not uncommon behavior among girls – so they don’t drink a lot in front of the boys and b/c the boys have ‘handles’ that taste bad!) and then proceeded to go with her friends to a Frat House party.  At some point, a boy strongly suggested he and BD hook-up; BD did not necessarily want to hookup and she wasn’t giving the ‘go ahead’ signal. But boy didn’t pay attention and ‘yada yada yada’ it went further than BD wanted.

Now as a mom of daughters (2 in k-8, 2 in high school, 2 in college) I will always hold the line that “no means no”.  Some would say this is my Rationalization Hamster at work, but for me – coming from a place of very limited sexual experience before marriage – if I said ‘no’ (or in any way indicated NO) I would have fully expected cooperation and for the boy to stop pressuring me into whatever.

But as I expressed my outrage to my daughter about her friends plight, my daughter, without emotion simply said …

“Mom, whether she was giving the go ahead signal or not, the mere fact that she downed 4-5 shots and then went to a Frat party is her willing participation in the hookup that followed”

and she continued

“There was a 75% chance she’d be hooking up – she knew it and the boys that attended the Frat party knew it – if she feels bad or violated now it is only because she is shrieking responsibility for her own actions”

Wow.  I did not expect that from my daughter.  Now mind you, she was very sensitive to BD  and truly wishes the events of the evening didn’t transpire – she just didn’t buy the spin that BD’s hamster was selling.

A few more thoughts as a mom – both of our daughters attend college about 6 hours away from home (in different directions!).  I am aware that whatever social media or random pictures I might see could be completely censored for my eyes – so instead I depend on the depth of our established relationships and frequent interactions to get a feel for what decisions my daughters are making when away from home.  Our Elizabeth is a very attractive, socially connected young woman – who is very comfortable with herself and with boys.  I was more than a little impressed at her willingness to hold BD (and herself (?)) personally responsible for how a situation can unfold.

I have another post that I am working on, Rationalization Hamster, part 2 where I am going to discuss how this same daughter is comfortable using what Feminist thought they were fighting for in a completely unintended way.  Stay tuned!

  1. Lovin’ the blog. Added to my roll.

    • Thanks Ian, adding yours now (actually I thought it was already there)! BTW, yours was one of the very first that started our ‘re-education’ process. I am working on a post where I reference your “man up” post … which is a classic!! Loved it.

  2. […] Life of Liz – Rationalization Hamster, part 1 […]

  3. Smart kid you have there. 🙂

  4. It’s very wise of your daughter to recognize that when you engage in risky behavior, you may end up putting yourself at risk. Personal responsibility is so important…especially when you are out there in the world on your own for the very first time. I am sure that conversation gave you some peace of mind when she headed back to school for the semester!

    • It did give me some insight into her thinking and a small assurance that even if she did decide to ‘engage’ at least she wouldn’t be able to easily rationalize away her actions.

  5. I agree and don’t agree with your daughter’s statement. No still means no if BD didn’t give the go ahead. That is called Rape. I agree that BD acted irresponsibly but so did the guy who took advantage of the situation. It’s a lose lose

    • Hi Tess – Thanks for your opinion. I guess I see it as both of them taking advantage of the situation. If SHE is impaired and not making a strong objection and HE is impaired and not following her weak objection – why would BOTH not be responsible for the hook up? It just seems like we expect the man to retain his decision making skills of No means No (which again, I DO agree with) but let the female off the hook. I have a hard time understanding how things can be equal and unequal at the same time. Either BOTH are guilty or BOTH are responsible. It’s not a comfortable thing for me to say, but I am no longer so hesitant to accept the cry of both equality and protection. .

  6. Hi Liz,

    I think what we have to realise is that it’s a completely different world out there from when we were in school/college. Like you, Starman and I met very young, at a school dance, fully supervised by the nuns at the convent school I attended. I can’t believe how innocent we were.

    Our own offspring had entirely different experiences. They both went to boarding schools, although they came home at weekends. They had crazy social lives, and unhappily, we had problems to sort out with both of them. I regularly had to get up from bed at 1 am to collect my drunken son from outside some pub or other in town. I used to read him the riot act, but actually I was happy he had rung me to fetch him home. Likewise, our daughter had boyfriends we weren’t particularly happy with.

    However, we had given them both good Christian values. We had to allow them to use their own judgement and make their own choices. It was very hard at times.

    And now? They are really wonderful young people. Our daughter is happily married with a little boy, and works at the local college with “difficult teenagers”. She even talked one down off a railway bridge the other week! Our son runs his own successful (even in the recession) business and has several employees. He has just bought his own house.

    Now I wouldn’t dream of condoning bad or suspect behaviour. But I do know that as a mother I used to have a terrible tendency to try to make choices for my children, and then they would do just the thing I didn’t want them to do.

    Your daughter sounds lovely and you must be truly proud of her. But remember, it’s a jungle out there!

    Many hugs,


    • Hi Ami – raising kids is so much harder than it’s billed to be! Our 2nd daughter acted out her sr. year and did things I never thought ‘my’ kids would do! And like you I was happy to be the one she called for a drive home. Now into college and the different world that offers. Luckily, daughter #2 is an athlete and has a lot of pressures that require her to keep her body in tip top shape – so at least the drinking seems to have been worked out. I am keeping my eyes open though to counsel her through any hamster moments that might surface with boys. And she has a pretty strong spiritual life so that too offers something. Can I check back with you in 2-3 years and let you know who things with these two turn out 🙂

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