This Isn’t ANOTHER Post About Sexism, Is It? (1 of infinite, yes, sit down and learn with me)
I hope we’re hearing the death rattle of the soldiers of traditional patriarchal, white supremacist, cis, hetero, ableist, Christian power dynamics. To me, they’re represented in the angry, pouty, sneering white faces of the men and women in the White House/senate.
But I’m a soldier of that system, too. I was programmed from birth…I have so many biases living inside of me I need to watch die….many of them against women, against me, against moms, against artists…against the very things that I am.
Currently, I’m struggling with my desire to take care of my children/be home to teach them through the pandemic, and to focus on my writing, instead of “going back to work to be a valuable, contributing member of the family.”
The pissy sexist capitalist achiever in me is saying that, even though we’re able to make this work in our family, devoting myself to parenting or art is not valuable work…that only bringing in guaranteed money to support us is worthy. Deep-down (maybe not that deep, I know I’ve hurt some people I love with my judgement and biases on this) I’ve always scorned stay-at-home moms. I thought they were falling in line, doing “women’s work,” ie: obviously, unimportant work. I kind of thought that they were ‘using’ their poor husbands. I’ve bought the lie that leaving the house to go to work and bring in money is the only important job in a family. I also carry guilt (that serves exactly no one) that it’s an obscene luxury that I can rely on my spouse to finance us, when most people don’t have that choice. AND I feel like a failed feminist for relying on my husband for money.
Weirdly, when my husband quit working so that he could pursue his dream of owning a small food business, and I supported our family and the fledgling business on my income for years, he never felt like he was taking advantage of me or being the ‘less contributing’ spouse. We was running kids everywhere and making a bunch of difficult choices to support his dream- that was enough, that was MORE than enough.
It needs to be enough for me, too.
For me, it’s like I’m always competing in the Sacrifice Olympics, where, to win, you have to lose more…and if I’m not giving up more than everyone around me, in big, clear ways, I’m taking up too much space, being selfish, being foolish…a little foolish, kept woman. Little but never little enough.
And in my head it’s like I’ve tagged all the things that women do as inherently lesser….or they’ve been tagged for me. But in my experiences, in my deep knowing, these labels aren’t accurate or fair…I’m trying to peel them off. Not just for my daughter, but for my son, for my husband, for me, for everyone any of us encounter.
I’m so tired of feeling torn apart by what I know and what I’m told.
I can take care of myself and my kids…both by working while they’re at daycare/school, and by teaching them and managing them full-time…my husband can do both those things, too. Over the past 5 years of sharing who worked outside the house and who managed our small business and the the house/kids, we walked in each other’s shoes and it was incredibly hard, but useful. Now we trust each other, and we’ve worked fucking hard to earn and give that trust…we share it all, BUT if either of us have to stand on our own at some point, we both can. No one is allowed to be helpless and no one is allowed not to take help.
Of course, there’s privilege and luxury in all of this. We’re obsecenely lucky that we both were gifted educations and have careers that pay well, and that we have a trusting marriage where we can fluidly manage our shared life. Neither of us has to do all, be everything. We can share the burden.
We’re also learning how to peel off the sexist anti-women tropes we were taught, together, and separately. More on that later.