ON YOUR AGENCY. I’ve wanted to write something about my fourth-wave feminist bandwagon jump, throw my hat in the feminist-rant ring, but haven’t been entirely sure what to say first. And then today I open up my computer and what do I find!? Tons of lovely posts about love (V-Day, 2016) along with some other posts about a woman’s position “in love.” Eureka.
All too often I read a think piece about feminism, by a feminist, that contradicts its own foundation with one sentence.
There’s plenty of talk about what we might do to raise women’s positions in our society. What women might do or not do. There is leaning in, there is making your own choices, owning the freedom (what little of it there is) suffragettes worked so hard for on your behalf. If you want to be a mom, be a mom! If you want to be a skank, be a skank (oops, I mean if you like sex, have it). If you want to use contraception do it. However you want to dress; whatever work you want to do; you own yourself.
This is lovely advice. After all, men have been steamrolling through their lives, making decisions and taking actions in a cavalier way — without apology — since the beginning of time. We should too. Equality.
But what I don’t see, what I find frustrating, is how many of us still shirk accountability for our men, and ourselves, when it comes to the state of our equality at home, exhibited by a simple declaration: “he’s so much better than most men. He helps out more than most. He really does his best in spite of his hectic work schedule.” Strong, independent women who’ve taken charge of their careers and lives outside of their home write these lines with zero irony.
In each and every moment a woman thinks that, in each and every instance a woman says that, she takes away her agency.
Raising a pedestal of “better than” is only an excuse. It’s an excuse not to confront. Not to stand up. Not to be heard in your own household. If someone is better than another option, then the consequences of the option you’ve chosen are a burden that you deserve to carry. Except you don’t.
Simply put. We baby them. We allow them to be children in the bosom of a consummate caregiver. We say “Oh, well, Johnny colors better than most of the other boys in third grade, and he hardly ever throws sand at the other kids during recess, so he’s all right.”
The play of parental caregiving is absolutely part of a loving relationship between adults. But if you’re mothering more than he’s fathering, it’s worth an eyebrow raise. If you’re making excuses, it’s worth wondering about. And if you’re more worried about what others think than digging in and fixing those issues, it’s worth it to remind yourself of your own strength. (For any men reading this, reverse roles and the statements are no less true)
I understand the critique that we put the onus on women to do literally everything (because we do) when it comes to trying to bring about real equality. I understand it seems unfair. But for any person, male or female, desired change starts with you. And if you’re excusing your man’s tendency to walk by a sink of dirty dishes three days in a row and do nothing about it; or his falling into bed after a long day, leaving you to walk the baby when she wakes up at night, though your day was no less stressful nor shorter than his, something needs to change.
There is no better than most. He’s either pulling his weight or he’s not.
Originally published at itsaculturething.com.