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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Aaaaaaargh, I despair!

61 replies

duchesse · 18/09/2013 10:59

I am 45, went to university in 1987, and am utterly despairing that most of the women who were my contemporaries seem perfectly content even now, as Oxbridge educated women with often very high-flying careers, to do most of the gruntwork at home and make allowances for the fact their poor ickle menfolk can't possibly do that much at home!! I have one sole unique friend with whom I feel on the same wavelength about this- all the others seem stuck in a 1950s timewarp. What hope for their daughters?

OP posts:
chocoluvva · 18/09/2013 12:17

Some men really seem to believe that they are too important to ever clean. IME.

chocoluvva · 18/09/2013 13:59

But your post is really asking why well-educated women put up with it. (I assume).

Perhaps it's too much effort to explain/train. Perhaps the men in question claim that their partners choose to do more than their fair share because they have unnecessarily high standards of tidiness/cleanliness. Hmm Perhaps the women feel they can't have everything they hope for in a partner so they'll put up with it. Or that their partner would leave them if they pushed the issue.

It's depressing.

Keepithidden · 18/09/2013 14:19

What hope for their daughters?

It's a good question, I always thought that feminisms main weapon was education for women. If Oxbridge educated, successful career women are putting up with this kind of behaviour, why are they doing it? They must know that the arguments for putting up with it are rubbish, surely?

Maybe it's the wrong kind of education?

UptoapointLordCopper · 18/09/2013 15:02

It says in delusions of gender that this is quite common with women - even the highflyers end up doing more housework. It is like women's identity is so much tied up with home-making that they feel guilty and they feel they have to compensate and they feel that doing that will somehow make up for their lack of "feminitiy", for daring to be successful. Something like that...

DropYourSword · 18/09/2013 15:05

I didn't go to a fancy university and my partner was hoovering and mopping the floors when I came in from work today. Woohoo, there's hope yet.

curlew · 18/09/2013 15:05

I often think that if I went back to the 1970s and told my teenage self what life would be like for women in 2013 I wouldn't believe myself. Or if I did, I would have just given up then and there. When I remember how optimistic and hopeful of the future I was then..........

DropYourSword · 18/09/2013 15:09

Without meaning this to sound at all offensive Curlew, what is your perception of what life is like for women in 2013.

SinisterSal · 18/09/2013 15:39

Well, they do more housework for a start, DropYourSword.

curlew · 18/09/2013 15:43

Still nearly 2 women a week killed by domestic violence. More Etonians than women in the Cabinet. Page 3. Mary Beard. Women still doing the bulk of child care and housework. Threads every day on here about women feeing the need to keep the peace and be the appeasers in relationships. Girls toys and boys toys. Women over 40 invisible on TV. I could go on.........

curlew · 18/09/2013 15:44

And that's just in the UK.

MaggieMaggieMaggieMcGill · 18/09/2013 15:44

Being objectified every which way you turn...

curlew · 18/09/2013 15:45

Not sure how anyone could interpret that question as offensive, by the way.......

Chubfuddler · 18/09/2013 15:45

I used to work at a law firm with more equity partners called Mark than women. Depressing.

chocoluvva · 18/09/2013 16:19

Yes, to the guilt thing I think. Or the idea that being 'successful' isn't 'feminine'.

NotCitrus · 18/09/2013 17:11

Definitely a guilt thing, or feeling that you ought to feel guilty if you don't feel guilty for not keeping the house clean/ensuring kids aren't the last at nursery/making homemade birthday cake/writing nice thankyou letters to zillions of people etc.

I think we need a couple more generations of our mothers and grannies to die off before equality can get properly embedded in hearts rather than just our heads - I say mothers and grannies because IME they're usually the ones saying "Oh, you let [male DP] pick the kids up and put them to bed? Isn't he good! I hope you thanked him properly. Did you send a thank you card to his mother for that nice present she got dc?" Dads etc tend to be much less bothered by a lot of the expectation (hence not explicitly teaching their sons to do 50% of childcare and housework, but not guilt-tripping them about stuff that isn't really important).

I do wonder how gender roles will change with increased unemployment and practically no jobs any more requiring levels of strength that traditionally needed men to do them - if there aren't enough jobs for more than 50% of adults, will we end up with many more one-earner families which may be more randomly male/female-earning, or just a sharper divide between the haves (having jobs) and the have-nots?

BasilBabyEater · 18/09/2013 20:03

I think a lot of it is denial tbh.

Men who don't do their fair share of housework are basically making their female partners eat shit every day. By taking for granted the fact that they don't need to do the grunt work because the woman they're living with will do it, they are showing those women very clearly that no matter how much they say (and believe) that they love and cherish and respect and see as equal partners the women they live with, they actually have a sliver of contempt for them somewhere - the perception that the grunt work is good enough for the little woman, while he's above it.

Deep down women know this, they know they're living with it and that is so painful and so humiliating, that they go to great lengths to build up a total denial that that is the case. So they have to invent narratives such as "men don't see dirt", "he's just so disorganised" "he's hopeless at remembering birthdays" etc. - all those excuses where men who run companies and hold down responsible jobs, are supposedly incapable of running a household and taking responsibility for childcare, because to face the truth - that you're being dumped on by someone who doesn't value you as much as you deserve, as much as he claims to value you and as much as you value him - is really fucking hard to face up to and really horrible. Why would anyone want to face that, when there's no solution to it? I don't blame any woman who builds a wall of cognitive dissonance around domestic life with men in the 21st century. I'm not sure it's possible to live with most men without it tbh.

ModeratelyObvious · 19/09/2013 00:40

Snap chub, though in my case it was Davids.

Keepithidden · 19/09/2013 09:58

when there's no solution to it?

Is there really no solution to it though? This is the kind of edcucation that should be being taught, people shouldn't have to put up with being second class citizens or partners. They don't have to stay in those relationships, there is help to get them out and there are strategies to avoid them in the first place. Rape Crisis centes, Womens Refuges, websites like this all exist to offer support. I'm not saying any of this is easy against the society we live in that is set up to tell women the exact opposite, but the education needs to counter these lies, as it has done in the past with other prejudices and discriminations.

SinisterSal · 19/09/2013 10:09

The other side needs addressing too

prevention being better than cure, and all that

Keepithidden · 19/09/2013 10:21

Yeah that's true Sal, once again I've fallen into the trap of victim blaming (sort of).

When I was at school there wasn't any kind of relationship education, sex education was a biology lesson, there was no emotional education so all the emotional side of things was left for society to teach me. This was a mistake that I'm led to believe is being rectified in many schools now, hopefully the new generation are learning to respect each other better than their ancestors.

Not sure how I would go about tackling those out of education and stuck in sht relationships though? Public awareness campaigns, resources being pumped into refuges and the ilk (the opposite of what sems to be happening)? Is there any hope of changing ingrained attitudes for men who treat women badly? Hopefully, if not a female friendly judicial system would sort that out.

  • Another wishlist item that may not be realistic.
Takver · 19/09/2013 10:24

Interesting - I am pretty much the same age as you, Cambridge grad, left in 1991.

Your picture doesn't reflect my contemporaries that I'm still in touch with at all (admittedly a pretty small group). I'd say that they share domestic work much more equally than the average, at least 2 p/t sahfs (partners also p/t), and definitely none of the women do all the house work / childcare!

Takver · 19/09/2013 10:26

Actually, that's not true, one male contemporary has a sahm partner, but I know it was not his choice (she is not from the UK and definitely wanted that role). However whenever I have been round there he is in the kitchen looking harassed with children dangling off him so I think they share the non-work hours home labour Grin


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K8Middleton · 19/09/2013 10:34

They chose the wrong men. If you choose a man who does not pull his weight that is your choice.

Now obviously I know the issue is not as simple as that, but I think the solution is that simple. Choose partners for their qualities and abilities who will treat you well and respect you; a mutual partnership. If we as society start to find the alternative (current status quo for majority) abhorrent by educating our children and leading by example then we can change this for the better.

Our values need to shift a bit. Tall, dark and handsome is not enough. Must also be capable of looking after himself and family.

Takver · 19/09/2013 10:43

I would say, actually, that thinking of the men I shared houses with while a student & in the years after graduating (so a smallish but not tiny sample of cambs grads of that era), they were all pretty equal in terms of expecting to do their share of whatever housework / cooking got done. Admittedly this was often at a fairly basic level, but none of us were particularly houseproud.

GlassHare · 19/09/2013 11:05

If a womam lived with a man who hit her, or who controlled all the household finances leaving her with no money, or who constantly belittled her, or who tried to stop her seeing her friends, would we say that she should have known earlier in the relationship that he was going to become like that, that she shouldn't let him get away with it and that it is her fault and that she is responsible for making him change his behaviour?

If not, why do we think that women can make men do housework and childcare?

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