Justified or not, women can tend to find men frustratingly lazy/self-serving/myopic/unable to plan the kids’ birthday party. And they can tend to voice such frustration often.
I have a friend who shrugs her shoulders and says, regularly, “Look, women are just the more capable half of the race”.
I’ve always felt uncomfortable around this kind of talk. I truly don’t know what to make about where we – the two halves of the race – sit right now. We’re confused about roles. Women feel overworked and underpaid, lumped with too much responsibility. Men feel under-appreciated, misunderstood and emasculated.
But, I don’t reckon bitching about it is good. Moaning and bitching doesn’t feel like the evolved and constructive way to go about shifting things for the better. If anything it’s always seemed resigned and passive and unhelpful. And not kind.
I echo the thoughts of Irin Carmon in this op-ed on What Women Really Think of Men in The New York Times, responding to the “men are useless” cry:
“As a feminist, I disagree. It does women, and society, no favors to grouse about female superiority as a way to let men off the hook. When society writes off men as irredeemable, we all lose.”
There’s another (essentialist) argument to be made here. Anyone mindfully engaged in pondering contemporary gender relations (ie feminists) and who might think their critical thinking is reasonably advanced has a responsibility to carry the debate to higher territory.
Carmon writes, “Feminists’ critique of male power has long been caricatured as hatred of men. But it is feminists whose fight is motivated by the belief that men can be better.”
I watch some of my girlfriends roll their eyes, hmph righteously and go pick up their partners’ socks (or whatever) when they’re frustrated with the unequal division of labour and consciousness. I get it. And I’m not entirely sure – to be brutally honest – about what is the best way to navigate such a common impasse (only lightly represented by the example of the socks).
But I think we all need to try harder. All of us.
Carmon cites Obama who identifies as a feminist who recently said, “I can look back now and see that, while I helped out, it was usually on my schedule and on my terms. The burden disproportionately and unfairly fell on Michelle.” Carmon suggests men taking responsibility, even retrospectively, is what it’s going to take for us to believe another world is possible, one in which we don’t romanticise female superiority to let men off the hook.
I imagine I’ve opened a can of worms here. Feel free to vent below.