Oh the F word, there it is, people get their backs up more by this F word than the other F word.
Many people, myself included on occasion, roll their eyes at the mere mention of feminism. Women batting their gums about irrelevant drama, making a mountain out of nothing, creating drama at the expense of the male population, getting their nipples out at the drop of a hat to ‘protest’ not being able to get their nipples out at the drop of a hat, women! They do moan a lot don’t they.
The problem with the F word, is that many mistake it as an attack on the opposite sex, or is it gender? Is it both? I’m going with both, but anyway, in my experience there can be a lot of gender bashing in the world of feminism. For good reason, there are extremes of feminism that want all men down a hole and covered with hot tar. Who wouldn’t rightly defend their gender in the face of this?! It’s easy to understand why many people brush feminism aside as nonsense, radical women cutting off penises and wearing them like trophies.
I’m going to admit, I’m a little scared to identify as a feminist, for those very reasons. I would much more like to identify as an equalist, maybe I do (she finds out after a quick Google search). I don’t know where the terminology starts and ends, but I do know that this gender assignment at birth causes a whole load of trouble throughout life, on both parts. Can we not all agree to stop placing children and adults in gender pods?
My own experience of feminism has changed, vastly throughout my life. I was raised surrounded my males, I have brothers, a father, more male cousins that should be acceptable, I attended Karate classes – mainly of male students, everywhere I went it was males. There were times in my childhood that I was singled out for, like not being able to stay up late with the ‘boys’ or ‘the boys are going to the park, but you can’t’, the ‘usual’ stuff, but for the majority of my time I was one of the ‘lads’. Included and encouraged to participate in all things male. I don’t recall ever feeling overly excluded based on my sex, right into my teens I never seen the oppression of women and on more than one occasion uttered words to the effect that women need to get a grip as I have never experienced sexism, I can compete with the boys, women are so melodramatic.
Fast forward a decade and here I am. A female. A mother. A worker. A mental health sufferer. Wooooah! Did she just blame her mental health problems on men? No. I blame society – this is a very strong accusation to throw around, I understand this, I will explain.
If my teenage butt wasn’t a feminist, she sure is now, a die hard (yipikaye MF), relentless, opinionated, woke (I am soooo down with the kids, I’m sorry but I couldn’t find a better word) feminist. It might have taken a baby being expelled from my genitals to fully realise this, but here I am, finally.
Sexism is well and truly alive and breathing, despite the advances in gender pay gap, glass ceilings, genital mutilation, harassment, the list goes on. These topics are huge headline worthy topics, rightly so. There’s also a silent area of sexism, one that affects many, if not all women, the everyday life of being female, the ‘if mum can’t find it, it’s lost’, the ‘go ask, mum’, the ‘when is the car due it’s service, love?’, the ‘where are the kids socks, love?’, the ‘what are we having for dinner, love?’, it’s what some are calling the ‘Mental load’ – the unseen extra load/stress of running a house, family, work, children, life that is placed upon a woman’s shoulders.
I’m in no way having a go at the males of the world, let’s make that clear. But it’s easy to see why it would appear that way or why it may cause offence to them while women rejoice and cheer, clinking bottles of wine in the air. I’m not taking sides, it’s not a fight or an argument of the sexes.
From my life experience it’s a fact. Woman are expected to, and do do, more than their fair share of all things under the umbrella of family life. Whether that family life be a couple, a couple with kids, a couple with kids, a dog, a hamster, a cat, a horse, whatever, woman are under a very real burden of being the boss of everything. It’s a burden that I, like many, struggle with. A burden that my partner desperately wants to ease, a burden that has been drilled into me so much that I am unwillingly reluctant to give up. It’s not just me, I think if you conducted an alcohol lead survey you would find that most women share the same gripes. In fact most alcohol lead nights lead to women venting in complete exasperation why her partner doesn’t notice mess around the house of that they are out of milk for the morning and no one but she has noticed.
Every time a woman rolls her eyes at her partner asking where the babies nappies are, or where ‘she keeps’ the cleaning products or where ‘she’ keeps the pasta plates, it’s an eye roll at the sexism of it all. Women don’t ‘keep’ all these things, these are necessities in order to run a house, a house for you both to enjoy. Every time a partner asks a question he is placing more authority and pressure, unknowingly, on his spouse.
This so called mental load is a silent pain in the ass for both parties. On the one had you have a women taking on every task in the house hold alongside her own job and interest and on the other we have a well meaning and loving man that isn’t aware that his partner is doing way more than her share of the work. It leads to tension and frustration on both ends. The woman wants to shake her man, violently, for leaving a sock on the floor, while the man thinks that woman is batshit crazy and it’s just a sock on the floor. To her it’s not a sock, it’s disrespect, it’s being taken for granted, it’s her partner showing zero contribution to all her efforts, efforts that you both enjoy.
Fault can’t be placed at the man’s (sock less) feet. Nor can it be placed at the woman’s (tired) feet. We all created these monsters. We all need to stamp it out. Boys will not be boys! Girls are not all sugar and fucking spice! Men don’t go work while the woman ‘makes’ the home. Woman are not better parents, they are not more ‘maternal’, loving or kind. Men that like to look after children are not creeps. A man can do the ironing and not die. A woman can change a light bulb and not die. A man can think ahead and arrange childcare for a night out. A man can pack the child’s bag without the guidance of his partner. Men don’t ‘babysit’ their own children. Woman can let go of the reigns and the house will still stay standing. A woman can voice her frustration in a productive fashion and not scream like a banshee over milk on the worktop.
It’s not even the practicalities of running a house that places unbalanced weight on a woman, it’s the emotional mental load too. I wouldn’t dream of going for impromptu drinks after work. Firstly, I’m the parent that is able to collect Jess after work. But secondly, and most importantly I would feel incredibly guilt for asking my family or partner to change their plans for me. I would actually feel bad for asking my partner to collect our child, for doing ‘my’ duty. Is that not crazy?
Can we not all see what pressure we are placing on women. Is it any wonder that many women develop post natal depression. Woman aren’t nagging, complaining and moaning (unless it’s when we are being just unreasonable), we are giving a short glimpse at how unfair it is that we are expected to carry everything on our own tiny shoulders. Frustrated, upset words can be hard to articulate, a quick shout and slam of a door followed by the silent treatment while we text our friends is much easier. Can we not see how unfair and down right upsetting the current situation can be for men. Through no fault of their own, they are unaware of why their partner left the house in a huff this morning. Unaware that instead of having a cup of coffee, he should have packed his kids lunch for the day and not left it for his partner. As a child/teenager I didn’t see it, I thought woman just moaned, so how the hell do we expect our men folk to see it?
Lets stamp out gender roles and sexism, other than biological functions such as pushing out a baby and breastfeeding I really can’t see the difference between a mother and father. I certainly can’t see a difference in the role they play within the family setting. It worries me to think that my strong, smart, clever, funny daughter will one day be sitting typing a blog describing how sexism helped contribute to her decline in mental health. I don’t want any person, let alone my child, to be placed under such unnecessary pressure that it pulls her to the point of utter ‘I give up’ on a bi annual basis. Women might have switched roles in the traditional sense, instead of being a ‘housewife’ we rush out the house to work every day, but society has yet to remove the ‘housewife’ responsibilities and share them equally between the sexes. They only way I can see for this to happen it to teach our children that what you are born with between your legs is irrelevant, if you want it to be, and that we are in this together. No roles. No expectations. No gender rules. We all take part in life and play fairly and equally. Both sexes should be just as strong and independent as the other.
And maybe teach men how to correctly clean the bathroom and not look for a pat on the back for attempting it.