I kind of sympathise with Elizabeth’s sentiment here in her comment on a post of mine – Sorry, is our struggle stifling your productivity? (though am not so fond of its lack of tact, and certainly not the way in which that thread has suspiciously since turned into a troll attack – more on that later), while also having serious problems with it.
I don’t understand why women have not figured this out yet. Yes, YOU (the wife/gf/woman) will be doing 90% of the work, so if he does not pull his fair share (and he won’t) please do not bitch about what a piece of shit he is on TruMom Confessions. What did you expect?
Sure, complaining can seem a little futile, reinforcing of the status quo even, when it is done among ourselves and where all we do is nod in agreement with one another and share in a little mutual pity, then wrap ourselves tightly in a blanket of martyrdom and go back to more of the same. How safely non-threatening for men. The worst complaining of all is when it is expressed as some sort of endearing trait – “oh my poor darling Bill is terrible in the laundry, just terrible, he could never figure out colour sorting and he would just end up colouring all our whites. We would end up all dressed in pink. Hah. Oh, men!”. I have been around conversations like this where it feels like we have been dropped into some kind of dreadful retro TV comedy. But it isn’t always this way.
Sometimes venting is empowering – sometimes it allows women to feel less alone and feeling less alone can make you stronger in confrontations, plus, seeing that others experience the same problem as you allows you to recognise systematic oppression in your life, and where you can identify that, and understand that the problem is so much bigger than the ‘bitchy mood’ you’re being accused of carrying around, there you are more likely to also feel able to challenge oppression and negotiate a fairer outcome. When you do that, you have feminist action, and surely Elizabeth couldn’t complain about that.
This idea that men can’t/won’t change so what is the point in even getting worked up about it, what is the point in even trying for something akin to equality, what is the point in feminist thought anyway is a ridiculous exercise in defeatism. Oh no. There is no hope, so let’s throw ourselves under a bus.
Maybe Elizabeth would argue that the post was self-indulgent. Sure, I was kvetching into the ether but in that post I also note possible solutions to the inequality I am encountering; I identify some wider issues; I own my bit of martyrdom in the mix and what’s more, that post has been picked up and spread across the Internet more than almost any other post of mine. I have seen it discussed positively on forums, I have been notified of its use in university lectures and in conference presentations, and I have heard from people (many of them young and without children) who experienced an ah-huh! moment upon reading it – who suddenly understood the profound misogyny that confronts mothers. And writing that piece and reading the comments it received allowed me to see my own problem more clearly. I went and negotiated a better deal with my partner. So, probably good then that we didn’t all throw ourselves under a bus.
Now a little word on Kathryn’s trolling comments, which appeared right after Elizabeth’s…
You know, getting to know the baby-daddy, before you decide to pop out t kid, would solve many of your problems.
You could also try having a kid if and only if both parties agree that they want a kid and will accept equal responsibility for it.
Oh, there’s also the ever-popular strategy: put in some research time, before you decide to make a life-altering decision.
If you make it comfortable for baby-daddy to do nothing, well guess what? He’s going to do nothing!
In these comments you probably won’t ever find a better example of the naivety of post-feminism and a better insight into why so many of us were brought to a screaming halt when we entered motherhood and crashed into the virtually immovable wall that is gender roles in parenthood. That we are ‘not stupid like our mothers’, that we found a more evolved man than our fathers, that we earn our own money and always will, that we have entirely cleansed ourselves of ‘good mother’ mythology, that we will have the stamina for continual relationship negotiations, that we will simply divide household chores in the same carefully equitable and rostered fashion that we employed in our share-houses, that we will have all the choices we feel we deserve, and that the world won’t in fact benefit from our servitude and do all that it can to hold us there.. these are all things we think we know before motherhood. Welcome to Stupidville, you live here too Kathryn.
P.S. Lauca is an idiotic name. You clearly weren’t thinking about the child, when you were naming it.
P.P.S. If the train ride is such a hassle, why don’t you DRIVE? You have a car. What’s the point of using it solely to get to the station?
After all, baby-daddy doesn’t use HIS ride to get to the station.
And for good measure, we have Kathryn swamped in her unidentified privilege as well. Everyone has Anglo-Saxon names, everyone can afford city parking, everyone controls their fertility, everyone struggling is poor, everyone poor is immoral and ignorant, and of course everyone is fully empowered and fully informed.