Not putting the man in your life at the centre of your life

(127 Posts)
BasilBabyEater Sun 11-Aug-13 08:24:35

I came across this really interesting article this morning and thought I'd share

feministcurrent.com/7784/on-feminism-writing-and-doing-womanhood-wrong/

Am still thinking about it so am not going to comment but thought others might like to mull it over too.

BrianButterfield Mon 12-Aug-13 07:11:16

What I'm seeing a lot of is sexist behaviour being enabled by female partners and framed as strength on their parts.

For example, a friend of DH's has moved house recently. She mentioned the house was near to the cricket and rugby clubs (her DH plays both). DH said "well, what difference does that make to him? He won't be going much," (they have a toddler and a baby on the way) to which she got very indignant and said "yes, he goes every weekend because I LET him!"

She was making her DH's abandonment of the family for sport every weekend out to be her decision, as if she were in charge! DH surprises people regularly by choosing to be with his family at weekends instead of out of the house; the idea of a man choosing to spend time with his wife and child is actually seen as noteworthy and praiseworthy by many.

AnyOldFucker has said what I was trying to say much more succinctly!!

It would be glorious if all men were feminist allies, but sadly they're not. So if you choose a single life instead, that's a good and valid choice. But sometimes you can't help falling in love (mine was only supposed to be a holiday fling!) and as long as they're prepared to listen, learn and think/reflect, not just pay lip service while rolling their eyes behind your back, then that's good enough for me. We all have to start somewhere, and I have the same expectation of my female friends and colleagues who haven't had their awakening yet.

BasilBabyEater Mon 12-Aug-13 09:47:48

God I shudder when I hear women say they "let" the men they live with do something.

It is horrific. Seriously, it's a prospect that appalls me - the idea of playing out gender roles like that, infantilising the man and adopting the role of authoritative parent to him - what an excruciating situation; it's utterly humiliating to women to have to do that and as for men, where is their self-respect? Why would any adult accept either role in a loving, equal relationship?

Totally agree with what you're saying AnyOldFucker - there are often discussions on here, particularly with regard to things like going to lap-dancing clubs, which are framed in terms of "I would/ wouldn't let my DP go to one" which utterly depress me. But even things like "should I let him go on a sports holiday with his mates for a week, we've got a 3 day old baby" - I simply can't compute this sort of approach - it's not a question of not "letting" him, I expect an adult male to be capable of making his own choices and to make ones which are consistent with our values and attitudes as a couple.

AnyOldFucker Mon 12-Aug-13 09:54:09

Indeed

Portofino Mon 12-Aug-13 10:09:42

Very interesting. I have just spent 3 weeks on holiday with my dh and dd and have come to the opinion that whilst I have always considered him to be "not bad, house trained, good father" etc, he does not consider me to be his equal and does not truly respect me. He has had a lot of issues with depression etc until recently and I have been making (a lot of) allowances for him. I have stopped.

The more feminist I become, the more I realise that my relationship is not as good as I thought it was. It is a bit of an eye opener really and I will not be putting up any more.

BasilBabyEater Mon 12-Aug-13 10:19:44

Portofino, that's why so many men have a latent hostility to feminism.

I think they know that it makes us look at our relationships - romantic, sexual, domestic, work, friendship - and re-assess them in the light of feminist analysis and find them lacking.

The right wing warning that feminism destroys families, makes women commit witchcraft etc., is in a sense right (except for the witchcraft bitgrin). We find our relationships are not as we thought they were.

And that's a huge threat to men. It means they either have to change their relationships and be more acceptable living companions to women, or oppose feminism so that they can carry on getting a better deal than women do. Most of them do a half-hearted, uncommitted version of both at the same time. They know that they're getting a better deal out of heteronormative monogamy than women are, but they're not going to admit that because if they admit it, then that implies that for the sake of fairness, that needs to change so that both men and women get an equally good deal. And of course, that means giving up some power and advantage and no-one wants to do that.

I wish you well with sorting out any issues you need to. smile

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 10:51:32

I think a lot of it you get when your married.I often hear cant believe you are here/doing this you have a husband and married. That makes me laugh.

kim147 Mon 12-Aug-13 11:05:12

There was a headline recently in the Sun (I think) - The Kate Escape

Apparently Kate had "let" William go away on a stag weekend.

BasilBabyEater Mon 12-Aug-13 11:54:36

Eeeeeuw

Let

Eeeeeeeeuuuuuuuw

scallopsrgreat Mon 12-Aug-13 12:47:33

But it often isn't "let" is it? It is often man decrees what he is going to do whether partner and family like it or not. Woman frames it as "let" to regain some power however illusionary that may be.

CailinDana Mon 12-Aug-13 14:49:06

This is something i've definitely been thinking about lately. Without really realising it i chose the "take a good man and educate him" option. It's only in the last few years since joining mn that my eyes have been opened.

My mum worked full time (still does) while my dad stayed at home having been made redundant when i was about 1. As progressive as that may seem i only found out recently that my dad did no housework and just handed me and my sister over when my mum came in from work and did nothing for the rest of the evening. I was shocked. I don't know why given that he told me when i was 12 that he considered it a waste for girls to go to university as their place is in the home. The truly fucked up thing is that he didn't work for 14 years. He did take on some of the housework in that time but for example has never to this day done a load of laundry or cleaned the bathroom.

I've always liked dad and even considered him the better parent as he's more affectionate and emotional than my mum who can be quite cold. I've had to really reassess that. My mum worked like a dog doing a tiring stressful job and running the house while my dad lazed around on his arse. I blamed my mother for not being more available etc but when i think back i realise she took me to every single doctor's appointment and dentist visit. Why? Why didn't my dad do it? Why did i expect so much more from my mother who was already stretched as far as possible?

I have broached the topic gingerly with my mother and it seems that given her own horrid upbringing she was just glad dad wasn't an abusive alcoholic and put up with everything because of that. When i asked her why she didn't ignore my dad when he said she couldn't do up the bathroom (for no good reason) she said "I couldn't do that" in a shocked tone. When i asked why she couldn't give a reason. I suspect it was because despite my dad's utter uselessness she had it ingrained that he was head of the household and so she had to defer to him even if his decisions were nonsensical. Given that she grew up in catholic ireland where her own mother had had 9 c sections because society said using contraception was worse than a woman seriously risking her health it's not hard to see where her ideas came from.

Even though i considered myself streets ahead of my mum in terms of feminist ideas i realised a few years ago that dh and i both ended up in a situation where his life and desires took precedence over mine. Dh is a good man who would claim to see women as equal but over the last few years i've been pointing out wsys in which his views and actions are unwittingly based on sexist ideas. And he has listened. And he has changed, a massive amount. Where once he would wait for me to tell him to clean this and wipethat yesterday he just got up and cleaned. He didn't expect me to do any of it because I'm doing nights with the baby (who won't accept a bottle) so he sees that as my fair share. This is such a change. I made a sarky comment about it (why? Because I can no longer feel superior and hard done by?) which he ignored. I apologised for it later and he laughed it off which was big of him but really i felt bad- it takes a lot of character to admit you've made some pretty shit assumptions and decisions,examine yourself and really change. I'm proud of him for doing that.

Loopytiles Mon 12-Aug-13 18:22:58

9 C-sections cailindiana? shock

Loopytiles Mon 12-Aug-13 18:23:31

Your poor grandmother!

BasilBabyEater Mon 12-Aug-13 18:31:14

9?

Farkin' ell.

I thought they strongly advise against any more than 4.

MadameLeBean Mon 12-Aug-13 18:36:47

It is way too easy to "default" to putting the man at the centre.. I admire the way my DP forges ahead with his independent interests (disclaimer: as well as being a great partner and step dad) and I do not automatically do the same. But I am starting to do it more and to be honest I think it makes our relationship healthier and happier when I am not defaulting to focussing on him and our relationship but actually thinking of my own interests and ambitions separately as well. It is shocking to me that i am writing that it doesn't come naturally to do this, but having seen my mother in a very much supporting role over the years with my dad, I kind of have to force myself to be different. I have a more "high flying" career than my DP by the way so people might think that it would not be that hard to be independent but it sometimes is confused

Darkesteyes Mon 12-Aug-13 18:37:04

9 F. me.

Cailin i know exactly where you are coming from DM was brought up in Italy and is Catholic. She was always taught to defer to the man no matter how wrong the man is.
And it was up to the man to make all the decisions but if the decision is wrong they find a way to blame the woman.
Unfortunately my mum has been completely brainwashed by this. I talk about her views in the thread "Women and weight"

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 18:39:10

You have to do it as its one of the best things you can give your dds. It has came natural to me as its the way my mum has always been. There has never been moment that dhs needs have taken precedence over mine, and why should there be?

Loopytiles Mon 12-Aug-13 18:49:25

My DH shares domestic work and childcare, agrees with us both having time and time with the DC, and will listen and change things if I say things are getting out of kilter.

But he's really not good on other, big stuff. He gets angry if I disagree about things like where in the country we live and what kind of house we live in, how much money we spend on certain things. He refused to go part-time (4 days) after DC (the idea being we'd both work 4 days) and works very long hours and has been promoted, so I work 3 days, no overtime, cover things at home and my work suffers.

He basically doesn't regard my needs and wishes as equal to his. angry.

Friends' partners seem at least as bad! Examples: one friend has a 6yo and a baby due soon. Her husband has applied for a train driver job 3 hours away, for which he'd initially need to live away 5 days a week for the first year. She says she "had to let him, or he'd resent me".

Another two friends' husbands have time-consuming, expensive hobbies, out of house every sunday, work long hours and go out socialising a lot. They are never available to meet up at night because can never be sure he'll be home and say they can't afford childcare.

Another's DH has depression. She works Ft and as far as I can tell does 90 % of things at home, often out of the house at weekends with her two preschool DC while he watches or plays sport.

In our house it's me with all the outside interests. I run, sing in a choir and do karate. But I try to limit my activities to a maximum of 2 evenings and a couple of hours at the weekend, because I feel that more wouldn't be fair on DH or the DDs. I wish he would get a hobby, I'd love a quiet evening on my own!

While the domestic work, especially the child-related things and the admin may fall more heavily on me if I'm not vigilant, decision-making has always very much a joint effort and DH would probably fall about laughing if anyone suggested I should defer to him. But that's as much a reflection of his culture as of him personally.

MadameLeBean Mon 12-Aug-13 19:06:05

Loopy I have yet to have a child with my DP & although he does do more than half of domestic duties and shares responsibility for my dd, I am doubtful I could convince him for us both to work 4 days after a baby. That would be my ideal. I'd consider not having more dc if he would not make at least the same career sacrifices as me. I'm ambitious too and why should my career come second? If my career suffered at the expense of his, I'd resent it. I do think he wants to be a hands on dad and perhaps will reassess his priorities once his own child is born but for me it's also about preserving the equality of our relationship (as well as not rushing around like a headless chicken)

Some of these stories are making me very angry. I would ask why these women are letting their husbands get away with thinking they're head of the household. But the answer is obvious: the women must think so too, or they'd assert themselves to be heard and treated as a decision-making equal. And that comes down to the society we live in, our upbringing and the messages we receive daily. It will take conscious effort and action to bring about real changes in attitudes.

Hold on got more to say but switching from phone to 'puter.

Okay, on laptop now, much easier to rant! grin

While women are a very common sight in the workplace now (though still not enough at the top), and it's (mostly) perfectly acceptable for women to be surgeons, airline pilots, lawyers etc, in the UK, In the UK, 70 percent of all housework is done by women and still nearly two-thirds of all housework is done by women even if they work over 30 hours per week*. It's not even about women wanting to be at work (though they absolutely have every right to be there), since most families can't cope on a single wage these days.

And then, when these poor women drop from exhaustion, she gets told she shouldn't "want it all". As if. It's simply that she's expected to do it all.

Men doing housework is still very much seen as "weird", unmanly, and it's clearly perceptually still women's work (see any cleaning product advert ever).

The workplace revolution is ticking along nicely, but we desperately need to match it with a domestic revolution before we all kill ourselves. Men are laughing - they get the extra income, the better lifestyle and still get their socks washed and their dinner cooked. Something has to give, and what has to be given is the mop, the dish-sponge and the responsibility to make sure PE goes to school to the men!!

*link to article on housework hours done

peteypiranha Mon 12-Aug-13 19:27:34

It doesnt have to be like that annie. If you raise your standards then men will respect you more, and do it. If someone knows you wont take crap they wont give it out. Its the same as on here you see women getting mugged off by their 'friends' getting used for free babysitting, or only calling when they want something. People know which kind of people are pushovers, and make a beeline for those people.

Well that's what I'm saying, petey, but the evidence seems to suggest that women themselves still don't truly believe themselves to be equal to their husbands and their wants/needs/desires to have just as much validity as his. This needs to change, but how?

MadameLeBean Mon 12-Aug-13 19:34:28

Yeah but it's one of those things that's socially conditioned and accepted. If man said oh yeah I do all the housework cos my wife says she's too tired after work and can't miss corrie ... Well I've yet to hear it! But somehow it's normal the other way around and if the man "helps" then the woman is "lucky". Same goes for taking care of their own children FFS.

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