The Independent (sic) Women’s Forum[their FAQ] [counterview] in the US have been garnering much attention for their reactionary “Take Back the Date” campaign, a Valentine’s Day activist response to the horribly unromantic V-day campaigns in the States that aim to reduce the level of violence against women. They don’t like the way that people drawing attention to the reality of women getting bashed, raped and killed harshes the buzz of their romantic fantasies.
Kim at Larvatus Prodeo posted a summary and some links to other posts and then in the very interesting ensuing discussion posted this comment:
The elephant in the room with domestic violence (and date rape and violence) is all the myths that exist about men protecting women from the big bad outside. Whatever demon that may be. The stats are still terrifying. Most rapes and murders are not by random strangers but by men against women within intimate and family relationships. It’s in everyone’s interest to deal with this – men’s too. As Ann says in her column, there’s this myth embedded in all the sweet stories of romance and nostalgia for datin’ and courtin’ that men are wild beasts and women must draw the line. If they don’t, they’re sluts and deserve what they get. It’s totally in men’s interests too to break out of these horrible prisons of narrative about what does and doesn’t constitute lerve.
This is the huge problem in moving beyond traditional gender roles: those prisons of narrative. Narratives not only about the nature of “lerve” but about expectations of who does what, who earns more, who makes decisions, who does the housework and childcare, who wears crippling shoes for an “evening out” and who is expected to “have a sense of humour” about stereotypical “jokes”. Pushing the counternarrative of egalitarian relationships out into the wider culture is always getting derailed into new narrative prisons of castrating “feminazis” and emasculated “manginas” (I really hate that one), rendering all gender relations down into a suffocating view who can (and should) prong who.
A few people lately have been talking about paid (and unpaid) parental leave for both men and women: that existing (where they do exist) paid provisions for women should remain, be universalised and be extended to men, and both parents should have the option of taking blocs of unpaid leave during an infant’s first two years.
- The benefit for both parents in being able to maximise the bonds that only actual time spent with their children during the strongest attachment-building phase would be enormous.
- Men especially would not have the heartbreak of missing nearly all of the developmental milestone firsts and having to settle for “show daddy what you can do now” secondhandness.
- The career “mommy-gap” would be equalised: not only would both partners stay on par with each other in terms of career-stage and superannuation contributions, but employers would no longer “know” that women are going to leave when they become parents but men aren’t.
- Women would be more secure in their financial stability in the event of losing a partner, and men would feel less of the “breadwinner” burden: the feeling that the family’s security rests entirely on their shoulders.
That’s just off the top of my head: one simple legislative change that would benefit men and women enormously and move beyond the old single-breadwinner model which is further and further from most people’s reality. There must be more simple but profound changes which could be agitated for which would usher in a more widely held expectation of more genuinely egalitarian partnerships.