I’m a Feminist, But Feel Like a 1950s Housewife

Gillian Sisley

Is this reversed-misogyny in action?

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Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

These days, I resemble a very dutiful housewife.

I keep the house tidy and clean. I have dinner ready at 5 pm sharp for when my partner comes home from work.

There is always a load of laundry going through a cycle, and I can’t even tell you how many articles of clothing I’ve folded this week.

I’m also full of apologies when dinner is 10 minutes late.

And on top of it all, I’m running a business full-time.

All I’m missing is the apron, permed hair and bright smile as I wait for my husband at the door when he walks in from work.

So what the heck is going on, Gillian?

What?

Are you surprised that an outspoken feminist like myself seems to be settling in as a perfect fit into every female stereotype on the map?

I have to admit, I’m a little bit surprised as well.

But here’s the scoop:

My partner works full-time, too. He’s also pursuing his professional accounting designation full-time — at the same time as working.

My fiancé wakes up at 4:45 am to hit the gym and get some studying done before work. He doesn’t take a real lunch break — he eats while he studies.

Once he’s home, he gets 45 minutes to break. During that break is when we sit down for dinner together.

At 5:30 pm, he’s making another coffee, and getting back to the grind for the next few hours until he goes to bed at 9. I’ll often accompany him to bed, but will read next to him before calling it a night.

Our quality time these days is reduced to that 45 minutes after work, and the 10 minutes of chatting before bed — sometimes it’s less before he’s passing out from exhaustion.

This will be the next 2 years of our lives.

Oh, and did I mention, we’re getting married in 4 months?

He’s working himself to the bone between his job and studying — so where does that leave me?

Well, it leaves me in the position of doing everything I can to support him and facilitate his success as he pursues this very impressive goal for his designation.

It means I’m taking on the household responsibilities so that he doesn’t have to worry about those elements of life.

It means I make him good, wholesome homecooked meals to keep him healthy and functioning, because in his program every 15 minutes of studying and focus really, really count.

It means that, in light of his hard work and sacrifice to better the prospects of our future for the family we plan to have, I too am making my sacrifices to facilitate that possibility.

It’s not about gender.

If the roles were reversed, my partner would be doing exactly what I’m doing.

I can’t say he would necessarily be enjoying it, but he’d do it anyways. I can say for certain I don’t enjoy this arrangement.

But that’s adulting for you.

We’re both career-driven types. Chores are tedious, but we value having a clean home and clean clothes to wear, so we often split the chores down the middle so that everything is covered.

When things are more simple, and we’re both just working, it’s a reality that we tend to lean towards chores which are stereotypically associated with our respective genders.

And I despise that reality.

But what can I say? He detests laundry — I find it oddly therapeutic to fold clothes and match up socks.

Also, right before we moved in together, an average dinner for my fiancé was chucking some frozen bagel bites in the oven… it’s not hard to see why I’m the chef between the two of us.

But still, fundamentally, I struggle with the stereotypical realities of our divvying up of chores.

It feels like I’m dropping the ball on fighting against gender stereotypes when I seem to be comfortably slotting right into them.

I really struggle with that, and have voiced it multiple times:

What about when we have kids? They’ll see that Mommy does laundry and Daddy works on the car, and that might enforce negative gender stereotypes in them. I don’t want that!

My fiancé replied,

“So… are you saying you want to detail the car and change the winter tires moving forward?”

I cringed. “Well, no, I don’t want to. But… should I take it on anyway? Just for the principle of the thing?

“Well, if it’s that important to you, what’s the alternative to what we’re doing now? Taking on the chores we dislike most, as opposed to the ones we don’t mind, just for the sake of not appearing like we’re falling into gender stereotypes?”

When he says it like that, it does sound absolutely foolish.

But the feminist in me can’t help but worry.

I want my kids to know that Mummy does more than just cook and clean. Mummy is also a badass business woman, who writes stories and is a co-editor of a powerful online feminist publication for women to use their voices and speak their truths, without being shamed.

Mummy is fierce and intelligent and capable of anything.

But would my children just see instead that Mummy makes their lunches and scrubs pots and always knows where their laundry is if we stay on track with the chores we do now?

At the end of the day, this arrangement is about partnership. And that’s it.

Back to the present reality with my fiancé, and my conflicted feelings of living like a 1950s housewife.

This isn’t a ploy to put me in my place.

I’m not being discouraged from working in any way — in fact, I’m actually the bread-winner of the household, through my social media and copywriting company, and through writing on platforms like this one.

My partner doesn’t want me to stay home raising our kids while he goes out to work for the day.

In fact, he’d love to be a stay-at-home Dad with a little side-hustle. He’d thrive in that, and wants nothing more than to spend every moment he can watching our kids grow.

If I’m making enough through my work to support the whole household, that’s our current plan when we start our family. I would be the bread-winner, and he would take on childcare.

I grew up in that exact same reality. When I was 3, my parents switched roles and I was raised by a stay-at-home Dad.

I can’t express how impactful that experience was for me, in how I viewed gender roles as a child and how it shaped me into who I am well into adulthood.

Also, it played a massive role in how it developed my understanding of what real, healthy partnership looks like in action.

Final word.

At the end of the day, I’m not looking for sympathy. There’s nothing to sympathize with.

So I feel like a 1950s housewife right now, and it grinds my gears… so what?

That said, I do think it’s important that we have these open dialogues about gender sterotypes and how uncomfortable it can be navigating them in real-life situations.

In a perfect world, it wouldn’t matter who details the car vs. who folds the laundry.

In a perfect world, chores would be divided based on the preferences of the individuals involved, and that’s it.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.

And there is still a very present and living reality of women being forced and oppressed into certain roles simply because they are categorized as “a woman’s responsibility".

When in fact, the divvying up of the responsibilities of those roles, or even the shared responsibilities of those roles, is no one else’s business but the individual’s or partnership’s involved to dictate.

There is no reason that rich white men in suits in the US should have a say in how I conduct myself in my relationship, or how my partner and I divvy up responsibilities in the bedroom.

That’s no one’s business but our own.

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Online solopreneur. Tea drinker. Committed optimist. I write about trending news, viral Reddit content, and anything else that tickles my fancy.

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