I consider myself a feminist. I am forward thinking and raised a son on my own, so I tried to teach him to respect women because they’re people, and treat them as people, not as a gender, the way our patriarchal society dictates.
However, I fell into the patriarchal trap with a man I was dating and I only realized it today, as I was mulling over our brief relationship. From the beginning, I wasn’t sure he was very mature. There were many signs, the biggest ones being his place was a mess and he paid for everything with a credit card, which usually means trouble with money.
He claimed he’d just moved his office into his apartment, so that was why it was so jammed. And he admitted he hadn’t paid his taxes for a while and didn’t have a steady income, hence the credit card. I believed the excuse for being messy for a while, but as he got more comfortable with me his place went from messy to unhealthy. He had rotting fruit in the kitchen and garbage on the floor. It smelled, and was so bad he wouldn’t let me in the kitchen.
It was not long after this that I broke up with him. That wasn’t the only reason, but it was definitely a symptom of larger issues.
As I was thinking about this today, I knew he’d made an effort at cleanliness at the beginning and gave up as he got more comfortable with me. But it suddenly hit me. If he’d been a woman, I immediately would’ve seen something was wrong with her mentally. I would’ve known she must have some kind of mental illness and/or addiction that was stopping her from doing the basics around her apartment. And it shocked me to realize, I didn’t see that as clearly with a man because I didn’t expect him to be as clean, BECAUSE HE WAS A MAN!
I admit I’m stunned that I gave him a pass simply because I didn’t expect men to be as clean as women. In retrospect, this is ridiculous. And he likely does have a mental illness and an addiction. I see that very clearly now. Especially because he didn’t realize his unsanitary behaviour was really, really weird. Sure, he was “embarrassed,” but not enough to actually clean up. The fruit had been rotting for at least a couple weeks by that time.
And the fact that I gave him a pass on cleanliness makes me wonder what else I give men a pass on and don’t even realize it. I think I can come up with a list.
- Keeping in touch, because men are always SO busy doing VERY IMPORTANT things
- Expressing their emotions, because men JUST AREN’T GOOD at doing that
- Being affectionate, because sex IS affection right?
- Caring, because men do care they just DON’T show it
- Being committed, because JUST BEING IN THE ROOM means they’re committed to the relationship, right?
I hate to say the list could likely go on. But these are the biggies. In our society, we give men a pass on pretty much everything that has to do with looking after themselves and maintaining relationships, other than sexual ones that is. They’ve definitely got a monopoly on that one. But where does that leave us women, if we want to be with men in anything other than a purely sexual relationship? It doesn’t leave us with much, does it?
If I bought into the reduced expectations for men, then so many people are doing it and not even realizing it. I didn’t even realize it until today. And now that I have, I realize how ridiculous most men are. They act like they can do whatever they want and should still get what they want. This particular man didn’t believe he needed to change anything about himself. He said he simply hadn’t found the right woman yet. So he keeps on acting the same way, doing the same things and he’ll never find the “right” woman because she doesn’t exist. Women don’t stay with him because he offers them nothing. He can’t even do the basics of keeping his apartment clean or support himself, why would any woman want to be with him? Maybe initially for sex, but that wears thin very quickly. Because for women, sex is one of the easiest things to find, if we want to. The elusive is a real man who takes responsibility for himself and his home and his work and his being inside and out. For some reason, women are expected to look after a lot of these things for men.
I admit, I’m very disillusioned and quite repulsed by the pass men get in our society, and even the ones I’ve given men. I’m going to think long and hard about the reverse-sexist expectations I’ve been living with within myself. I’m thrilled I’ve finally seen it, but wow I’ve likely got a lot of work to do to get past the ingrained society garbage that’s obviously been shoved down my throat, subtly and not so subtly.
It does explain why I’m not meeting men I can spend much time with. And it’s possible that once I change my expectations now that the blinders are off I may meet a different type of man. I mean there must be some responsible men out there who don’t expect to be looked after by their “mommies” right?
Please tell me there are. I swear there are more and more cases for switching sides!
There are definitely days where I find it easier to go into my office, close the door and write. I don’t feel as if I’m missing anything, well at least not much.
For me, the beautiful sunny days of the summer are the hardest to work on. I can take my laptop outside and work on the patio, but I can’t focus the same way as when I’m in my office.
Then of course there are the squirrels who come around and beg for seeds, and the birds that sing and land on our lawn to eat. Sometimes the rabbit comes out, and even the occasional skunk. I can hear the wind singing through the leaves on the trees, and I think of summer vacations up at the cottage where I could totally disconnect and be one with nature around me.
None of this is conducive to serious writing.
I wonder if I lived in a warm climate all the time, if I’d get used to the heat and sun and beauty and wildlife, and then be able to concentrate once again? Living here in Canada, where we have four distinct seasons, has caused me to always feel that summer is meant for vacation. Our summer is so short and so wonderful that it just seems like the time to play hooky, to walk aimlessly by a lake, to play in the sand, the listen to the birdsong and watch the sun go down in a comfortable chair on the deck. After all, that’s how I spent my summers as a child, so that routine got imprinted on my soul. And I like it.
Maybe one day when I’m a famous writer and I’m making scads of money selling my books, I’ll be able to take the summers off. What a fun idea that is. There I’ll add that to my wish list.
Hey, if you don’t dream then you never know!
From the series, Write On! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor
I am coming up with a rule that I’m going to present to the Goddess Above saying:
It is strictly forbidden for any woman to have the flu and her period at the same time. It is unfair to her sense of womanhood to be bombarded with the flu bug (whatever the hell it is this year) and her normal menstrual cycle, that can already make her feel like she’s been hit by a MAC truck. Women everywhere deserve more consideration for how crappy, achy and vulnerable they can feel at any one time.
From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor
I have some guests coming up for the weekend. My mother and my step-father.
When I talk about being abused as a child, it was by my mother.
And, yes, I do still let her into my home. Why?
- I have a son and he has the right to have a relationship with his grandmother
- I confronted her about the abuse and she apologized
- We have worked on our relationship for over ten years and she accepts what she did to me, she doesn’t deny it, and she allows me to be myself
I know most abusers don’t admit their actions. And in that way I suppose I’m lucky, if you could call it that. At least she accepts what she did.
I am under no illusions that she is “better,” however.
She said she doesn’t remember what she did to me. I believe her because a lot of people when they’re abusive and mentally unwell don’t know quite what they’re doing. That’s no excuse, don’t misunderstand me. I still know what she did to me was very wrong, and I am still working through the wounds.
In a lot of ways I find it ironic that I can have her in my home and enjoy spending time with her.
For a while it was still a bit sick, I still wanted to earn her love. When my son was young I still carried that everlasting hope that she’d become the mother I wanted to have. The mother I deserved. But I know now she will not be that woman.
I went through years and years of hating her for what she did, but I didn’t express it and turned it inwards, hence my depression and anxiety.
I think her behaviour really hit home for me psychologically after I had my son. I have always considered my son a miraculous gift, and I could never imagine treating him the way my mother treated me. The idea is abhorrent to me. I am not an abuser, never have been. Maybe that’s why I can forgive her to a certain extent.
I know for myself that keeping that anger alive ultimately only hurts me, and the people I love. If I’d kept holding onto the anger I would’ve become more and more diseased by various physical and mental problems because I’d be holding that hate inside myself. I have decided I just don’t want to do that.
And over the last two years since I had my breakdown, I’ve been slowly ridding myself, layer by layer, of all that pain and hate. It’s been very hard to let go because I’d learned to use it as fuel to keep going on. But now I use love as fuel, and that’s been an eye-opening transition for me.
So when my mother walks through my door this afternoon, I can honestly greet her with my heart. Not a naively hopeful heart, I know she isn’t the mother I really wanted, but in some ways I feel lucky that she’s my mom. And I think that’s healthy, and okay.
I feel pretty mixed up today.
I’ve had some really good things happen and some discouraging things happen. I suppose somewhere in between them there’s balance.
I received a really nice message from a man on a singles site. I had shown interest in him and he let me know that he’s about to meet someone and doesn’t like to pursue more than one woman at a time. He said my profile was very interesting, but he wanted to see how things go with the other woman first. I thought that was very honest and filled with integrity. And I thanked him for letting me know. He’s renewed my faith in the online dating scene.
I also found out that my ex-husband, the father of my son, wants to spend more time with my son. My son has been with me 100% of the time for about six months. I guess his dad is missing him. So I may have my three evenings a week back, and my son may be seeing more of his dad, which is very good. Especially since my son’s 16. He needs a man’s influence in his life too.
I woke up and realized I have a yeast infection. Often after I take antibiotics I get one. I just feel as if with my woman garden (thank you Jenny Lawson for this term!) it’s been one thing after another. First the UTI, now this. Blah!
I know it’s not really a big deal or even that unexpected, but I’m tired of feeling tired. The UTI kind of knocked me out, and often the yeast infection medication does too.
I’ve been worried about making enough money for a while now, and it’s damned difficult to be productive when all you feel like doing is curling up in a ball and sipping on tea! Something about this feels so November in Canada. It’s a month where everything is going to sleep or dying, we are overwhelmed with grey all around us and it’s getting cold and it’s dark so early we feel like going to bed at 5pm. Not an inspiring month.
And when I went for my healing treatment on Monday apparently the first two chakras are linked to creativity and our financial life. Figures! No wonder my woman garden is unsettled.
But then as I was driving back from the pharmacy feeling sorry for myself I realized that compared to some of the things going on in the world, a yeast infection isn’t much. And the UTI isn’t much either. Even my financial concerns are only temporary.
My heart goes out to the families of the victims in Paris and the countless others physically hurt from the terrorist attack. Now that is something really beyond discouraging, and has made me realize I’m having a pretty regular day.
Today’s tea is a rooibos with ginger and honey loose leaf tea from Brulerie St-Denis. I added fresh Brazilian ginger for the digestive and anti inflammatory properties. The gorgeous teacup is Shafford hand painted in Japan. Simply breathtaking!