Monday, January 27, 2014

Let Me Get That For You...

My daughter is a feminist. She is strong, brilliant, independent, and her writing will knock your socks off. One time she asked my thoughts on feminism, and I wasn't sure how to respond. I was raised by older traditional parents who looked down on "women's libbers." I am passionate about women's rights, fair treatment, access to education, voting, serving in the military, receiving equal wages and more.

In fact, I spent a greater part of my daughter's formative years instilling in her exactly how much I did not need her dad. I love, value, and appreciate him and our life. But, I can support myself and live independently, so I don't neeeeeeed him. My own dad in his trademark hypocritical fashion criticized feminists and pounded into my head that I needed to get as much education as possible so I'd never rely on anyone else. I absorbed that lesson completely and taught it to Chloe as well.

Here's the gray area: There are certain things that I don't want to have to worry about. I don't want to have to change my oil or wonder how much tread my tires have. I don't want to take the garbage out. I will. I can. But I don't want to. I don't want to clean litter boxes and dog poop. I do, but I don't like it.

I don't believe in traditional gender roles, but I do believe in gentlemen. I do believe in strong men and am trying so hard to raise one. I don't want to be the "man of the house." Sometimes I want my husband to make decisions without asking my input. Sometimes, I want to be surprised, cared for, swept away. Not always in big dramatic fashion like whisking me off to Key Largo--although that was awesome--but in little ways. Coming home to a house that smells clean because he mopped the floors. The random Sundays when he shops, prepares dinner and pours me a glass of wine.

It's less about a lack of independence and more about a desire to feel cherished; wanting to feel cherished and being a feminist are not mutually exclusive notions.

My love language is acts of service, so you can hug me til I'm breathless, tell me I'm beautiful, and buy me diamonds: I don't hear it. Fix my cracked phone screen, take out the garbage, replace my worn tires without making me ask 50 times? Now, I feel loved and valued. 

All of this boils down to some lessons I am trying to teach my son. Be a gentleman. Make eye contact. Hold doors. Be gracious. Anticipate needs. When your 82-year-old grandma comes in the door with her arms full of groceries, look up from your phone. Don't say, "Do you need help?" because she'll say no (because she is independent.) DOOOOO get up and carry her groceries.

When you get married do the dirty jobs for your wife, not because she is incapable but because you love and value her too much to let her carry garbage and dig in cat poo. Check her tires not because she can't but because her safety is your primary concern. Just because we're not damsels in distress doesn't mean we don't appreciate a knight in shining armor.

Maybe I'm alone in these sentiments, but I really want to raise my son to be the kind of man I'd want my girls to marry.

4 comments:

  1. I was reminded recently of the Who Opens the Door transition. Women who are grandmothers now had a choice to make --- if you opened your own door, you expected to be treated as an equal ---- equally valuable, equally smart, equally able to discern God's direction. If you waited for the boy to open the door, you expected to be cared for and protected, but were prepared for all of your ideas to be discarded, for your voice to overlooked. My granddaughters, I'm heartened to say, see no conflict between him opening the door, and him treating her as an equal.

    Division of labor --- you just can't work that stuff out new every morning, can you? After a while, a pattern emerges. We play to our personal strengths and inclinations --- maybe strongly influenced by traditions. Love and respect are the watch words that make the difference.

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    1. This next generation of women, my daughter, your granddaughters...they are a force to be reckoned with, aren't they? I can't wait to watch them change the world.

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  2. Love this thoughtful post. You're musings, as usual, are right on target.

    Respecting our differences... Loving the variety of who we are seems to be quite key.

    We are not all equal but we all have the right to be treated with respect for who we are, both on the inside and outside...

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    1. Thank you, Irving! "loving the variety of who we are..." YES! How mundane life would be if we were all the same.

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