- Before beginning your rant, and it will be a rant because you’re a woman writing this, always start that post with an apologetic, introductory paragraph about how truly nice your partner is and how he (and he will be a ‘he’) ‘helps’ you around the house and ‘helps’ you with the kids, a lot; really, quite a lot. So, he’s really very good, he’s not one of the bad ones and you love each other very much. Also, he is very tired. He works very hard. To rant without this introduction is disloyal and unloving.
- Never admit to the emotion experienced by you as being ‘anger’. It will sound a lot like anger, look a lot like anger, feel a lot like anger but it isn’t anger.. it’s something else, something pre-Betty Friedan, something safer. Frustration, perhaps? Irritation? Yes, irritation. Mild irritation bordering on rage.
- Emphasize how the whole problem is just about ‘choice’ and the choices we make. This can be resolved easily. You can choose ‘good’ or ‘bad’ men and you can choose whether you are a doormat or not to them. You have chosen a ‘good’ man, see point 1 above, and you are choosing not to be a doormat. Simple.
- When you’re talking about the division of tasks in your relationship be sure to take full account of the paid work (it’s tiring and stressful work – and also high status and financially recompensed) but be much less specific when accounting for all the unpaid work happening in your family, particularly that which is invisible, like emotional work or organisational work, and particularly where if the work is done well it appears effortless to everyone else , like soothing crying children in the middle of the night, straightening the lounge room before guests arrive and remembering what needs re-stocking when you’re at the supermarket.
- Talk about how you and he discussed the roles and responsibilities of family life in a reasonable fashion together and you found that it was just ‘easier’ if you were the one who specialised in all that unpaid, invisible work. Pay no attention to the many institutional factors around you that make any other ‘choice’ but this one extremely difficult to ‘choose’. You are making a free choice as a strong, empowered woman with a loving man.
- Assume that you have equal negotiating power at home if you are empowered outside the home. It naturally follows that if women have the right to vote, go to school and be CEOs then they are also being treated equally in the home, particularly when they are partnered to a ‘good’ man. This goes double for you if you’re one of those women who has a high level of education and a current (or former) high-paid job.
- When you’re ‘buying’ your way out of some of the more difficult inequality problems to resolve, by outsourcing childcare and/or cleaning and/or home maintenance and/or personal life organisation, be sure to mention how ‘sensible’ this option is without any regard for the financial advantages you have that others may not. Again, it is all just about choice. Talk about the importance of ‘couple time’ and how you are very sensibly prioritising this with your partner – never mention the advantages you have that make it possible for you and your partner to go out on ‘date nights’ together. Like, having family living nearby or being able to afford a baby-sitter or how you and your partner don’t work shift-work, and your child doesn’t have the kind of disability that makes it almost impossible to leave them with a ‘sitter.
- Your relationship is basically fair and equal, you know this to be true because you keep an eye on such things – on who is doing what and how much and whether it is fair. The fact that you are the one keeping that eye on fairness, and that you’re writing about it and thinking about it and expending energy on that stuff, and not him? Don’t discuss that.
- And if your relationship isn’t quite fair and equal then you’re probably failing at feminism, failing at taking charge of your life, failing at discussing things with your partner reasonably, failing at standing up for yourself, and failing at growing up.
- Finally, don’t write about your relationship woes. Because women’s lives are part of home-life, and home-life is the private sphere and that should never be discussed in the public sphere.
Categories: gender & feminism, Meta, parenting, relationships, social justice, work and family
This could just as easily be “Rules for women bitching about their relationship woes to their friends who’ve heard it all a hundred times before.” *sigh*
So effing true. BORED OF IT.
Thank you. x
For anyone interested in this topic read the cross-posted version at blue milk where an interesting discussion on the topic is happening.
Heartbreaking because it’s so true.
(and it may be because I’ve read you for a while and feel like I “get” your style, whereas I dont know “Cloud”, but I was very confused by her notion that you were angry and resentful at her. If anything, I almost got the sense you’d hit her in a sensitive spot she didn’t know she had.
All this stuff about the empowerment of “Choice Feminism” I’m afraid reminds me of the childrearing trick where you hide the child’s lack of power behind a choice: “Do you want to wear the stripey pyjamas, or the ones with the stars?” (you’re wearing pyjamas and going to bed, dammit!!!).
Aqua – great analogy with the choice feminism.