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Wifework- I don't get it...

(202 Posts)
louloutheshamed Mon 12-Aug-13 18:41:11

I have lurked here for a while and thought I'd try and boost my feminist credentials by doing some reading. So i read delusions of gender which I loved, I felt it articulated a lot I what I feel and experience in my life.

I have moved onto wifework and I'm just a bit baffled by it. It's Fascinating and coherently argued but the thing is I just don't recognise her description of marriage in my own marriage or those of many of my friends and peers. A typical husband as she describes would be generally accepted as a useless sorry waste of space by me and my friends, we just would not accept it. obviously I know these types
Of husbands/marriages exist but they are generally accepted to be crap. So many threads in relationships describe unequal
Partnerships but then there is always virtually a unanimous Condemnation of this behaviour by other posters.

I accept that I am slightly unusual in that I work full time and my husband went pt on the birth of my son. He does huge amounts of what is described as 'wifework' in the book, probably more than me. Moushart often starts sentences with 'I don't suppose there is a woman alive who hasn't experienced this..." and I am Screaming "well I haven't!!"

Perhaps I am the exception that proves the rule but it doesn't feel Like it in my experience. I don't even recognise my parents or in laws marriages in it as much as she suggests...

I also think, having read delusions first, that Moushart relies a lot on 'essentialist' (not sure if that is correct term) differences between genders rather than social constructs. I find it all a bit negative and bitter. When she describes how when she first got married suddenly felt like she had to be a domestic goddess type-??? I just felt like saying 'more fool you!'

Can anyone enlighten me as to what I am missing?

IWasAshamed Tue 13-Aug-13 22:05:07

Well actually my DH is OK with it! It's me who is struggling and feeling that 'I am letting everyone down, especially the dcs', even though I will do that for 9 months and DH has done the same for 7 years! As if being with their dad wasn't good enough and I had to be there hmm

And I agree about the over estimate. I am certainly guilty of that one too. After years of nagging convincing DH to be doing a fair share of the HW, we are getting there and now I sometimes feels guilty about ho much he is doing. That is until I am reminding myself about how much I am doing too!

And that's the thing isn't it? Even when you are convinced about equality, even if you are a 'feminist' sometimes going against all the things that society has taught re who is doing what is very hard to shift.
And then my 9yo comes home telling me it's normal that 'women do all the HW' and that's how things are working everywhere except in our family. Arrrg

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Tue 13-Aug-13 22:17:24

zut - glad it made sense!

In general, I think it's pretty important to remember this stuff is very, very, very ingrained.

So much so that petey (hope it's ok to use you as an example, but you seem a pretty robust type so I figure you will not) is holding two positions simultaneously. She's thinking 'wow, DH and I must have such a cool equal relationship! We don't struggle with this stuff, amazing!' and she's also thinking 'my mum was strident. I was selfish and lazy. Other women have been putting up with this for 20 years - that's a long time to wait'.

This is what's called cognitive dissonance. I can't explain it that well, but basically it is a coping strategy. It's where you have to believe two contradictory things, because if you admitted they were contradictory, you'd have to think about what was going wrong.

Women who want equality aren't 'strident'. Waiting 20 years for a relationship to be equal is a teeny, tiny blink of an eye when you look at what's going on in wider society. Yet we force ourselves to believe these things - that mostly, women are 'strident' or 'nagging' or 'have high standards', and simultaneously, that sexism is a trifling problem swiftly solved.

It is both a normal coping strategy, and very difficult to see your way out of, because it's so much easier to keep clinging to a coping strategy if it makes you not have to question what's going on.

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