Girl child in a family of men

Oct 25, 2010 @ 9:39 am | By TheFeministGriote | 1 Comment

“Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors.” ~Evelyn Cunningham

“This world done changed since I’ve been conscious,” as a feminist Erykah Badu’s words haunt me on a daily basis. Since adopting a feminist consciousness I view my relationship with men with much scrutiny. I am always seeking to align my personal life with my politics after all “the personal is political.” At times it is very easy to blend the two seamlessly and other times the line of demarcation is boldly drawn.  I must often remind myself that just because I have chosen to be enlightened and sought an identity within feminism doesn’t mean the world is going to quietly acquiesce to me and my feminist demands.

In my daily life I have no problem getting my point across, asserting myself, and keeping men and women in check who appear to want to dismiss me and my politics. I exercise my power daily and I expect the men I deal with romantically to treat me like a woman with a brain and with utmost respect. Outside my house I don’t always feel the insurmountable weight called patriarchy on my back because I have created a safe feminist space for myself. I know that women’s reproductive rights is under siege by the Tea Party p/k/a The Republican party, America still hasn’t had a female president, women still get paid less than men for the same work, and everyday women are fighting to shatter ‘the glass ceiling’. I know all this, but in my personal life I like to think that I am powerful and I operate under that guise, but when I come  home to my family I feel oppressed and powerless!

I am the oldest of four and the only female child in a Caribbean family which means I am no stranger to hard domestic work. Growing up all of my siblings and I were expected to clean, taught how to clean, and given individual chores. Now as an adult woman who recently moved back with my parents it has just recently dawned on me how oppressed I am by patriarchy  within my household.  My brothers have adopted the politics of the enemy. They expect me to clean after them, wash their dishes, the bathroom, basically do all the menial ‘female’ work while they only concern themselves with the serious male tasks which include eating, sleeping, playing Madden, and of course coaching sports from the side-lines of my parents living room. Growing up my parents weren’t overtly sexist in their parenting there were small signs of sexism at play, but somewhere down the line I stopped being my brothers sister and became the live in maid. I am a neat person by nature not by gender and I can’t stand messiness in common quarters and because of this I am doubly victimized.

As I was washing dishes in the sink that wasn’t left by me it dawned on me that I would not last 6 months in a marriage to a man who expected me to be his wife, his whore, his cook, his maid, and personal secretary. I want a relationship that is rooted in 100% equality. I want a man who can cook and clean because I refuse to be the only one performing those tasks. Men are very codependent on women and expect women to tend to their needs the way a mother would tend to a child’s needs, but that type of setup leads to women resenting the role they’re forced to play which in turn will cause friction between that man and woman.I think it is imperative that men understand that sexism doesn’t only happen when a woman is treated like a second-class citizen or when she is only viewed as a sex object whenever men assume that because a human being is born female that makes her inherently more suited for certain task and jobs that is sexism being perpetuated. Patriarchy is so prevalent and so ingrained within our society’s psyche that we often miss it at work even in our own homes.

What do you think? Is there such a thing as ‘women’s work’ and what should women do when confronted by men who expect them to do all the housework?

Categories: Venus vs Mars

One Response to “ Girl child in a family of men ”

  1. I don’t believe in 50/50 splits. Much like communism, it sounds great, but it just doesn’t work at a basic human level. My husband and I split work down comfort lines: for example I’m tasked with a lot of the day-to-day child-rearing but he does all the laundry and is in charge of our daughter in the morning. He plays developmental games with her, while I prefer to get down on the ground and physically horse around with her. He pays the bills (which I’m too spacey to keep straight), while I’m pretty much in charge of our social calendar. Once it was understood that we’re both committed to feminism, it was pretty easy to figure out who liked to do what. I think the important thing is that if neither of us want to do a particular chore, we pay someone else to do it. IMO a lot of couples could save money on marriage counseling by hiring a maid and garden service.

    I’ve never dated anyone who expected me to do all the housework. I know that these men exist, but I’ve been lucky in that they are not attracted to me and vice versa. In general, I find that simply being yourself attracts the kind of guy you want to attract and repels the kind of guy who expects you to do all the housework.

    As for children, I plan to give mine a non-gender-based chore wheel. I really do feel that boys are done a disservice when they’re not taught to nurture others and take domestic care of themselves.

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