Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.
Take a moment to think about the gifts in life. I read a guy’s blog recently that consisted almost entirely of complaining about human nature, about the cost of things, and about life. But isn’t it better to have a life to complain about than have no life at all? If you’re reading this, that means you woke up this morning with eyesight good enough to read a computer screen. You have fine motor abilities to navigate with the mouse and proprioception to manipulate the keyboard. You understand not only that shapes form certain letters, but that those letters joined together mean words, and words in sentences form thoughts. If that isn’t a good starting list of gifts to thank the Father of lights for, I don’t know what is. I would like to add that I’m thankful that when I woke up my husband did as well, that I have the ability to think critically, that the sun has reluctantly and with much coaxing decided to make an appearance, that Ian and I can afford to attend college, that we had food I could eat for breakfast (I should have brought some for lunch, darn it), and so on. It’s an easy list to make if you begin.
Now, on to what I’ve really had on my mind. Discussing the inequality in men’s and women’s roles, I believe that my Sociology professor has offered ample evidence to prove that a difference does exist. During their formative educational years boys appear to receive more attention from teachers than girls. Several articles suggest that teachers may unintentionally but significantly treat students in a preferential manner as a result of unconscious sexism. Thus boys’ speaking out is tolerated more than girls’, and teachers help boys along more after calling on them more frequently. When they graduate from the educational system, males earn more money than females do. As of 1991, women earned $0.75 on every $1 a man made – actually up from years past. Women live unequal lives from men, working lower-paid jobs even when, as in the case of elementary-school teachers, the job is crucial.
Men and women work different jobs, women typically earning less for those jobs than men in similar but not the same fields. Even when working, women dominate the housework, essentially taking on a “second shift,” while working-class men tend to have significantly more leisure time than their wives. No, I’m not offering any support for these statements because my professor offered little: I refer you to my class notes if you feel skeptical, and if you don’t trust them, well, this blog isn’t for you. Men typically are the “breadwinners,” and as such are thought to wield more power in families than women who either stay at home or work lower-paying jobs. A study showed that where spouses bring in equal amounts of “food” there tends to be greater equality, while a family dependent on the man to earn money and the woman to care for the house tends to have a male in the power position. Generally, despite the “women’s lib” movement and all the rhetoric about women getting out of the house and out of the primary child-raising home-making role, most women remain firmly entrenched in that role. Let’s just take it as a premise that sexism occurs, whether intentionally or not, and all people experience either its benefit or detriment from that.
Well, I say, so what? Not to all of it, because a woman in a man’s job ought to earn exactly what a man does; in that situation gender shouldn’t matter. And I think that equality in families is something to be sought because the healthiest relationships are between peers, equals, not one dominant and one submissive. But when we speak of sexism in families, where women tend to do more housework and men earn more money… Doesn’t it seem like a fair trade-off? Shouldn’t the person staying at home take responsibility for homecare? Ah, but then why should the woman stay at home?—I’m not saying she should, or that that is the only “right” way to do things. What I mean is that if a woman chooses not to work, it is logical that her responsibilities would differ from her husband’s. HOWEVER, in most families both the man and the woman hold jobs, and that situation warrants some thought, for no woman ought to have to do all the housework in addition to her regular job. That’s when things become tricky, and I won’t pretend to know how the best way to split up jobs is; that would depend wholly on each family.
What I really got from Sociology and in general from the Clark University culture, though, is a strong feeling that being a housewife is degrading. It’s not living up to your full potential but instead allowing some (gag) man do work you could do to earn your own living. I guess I’m ambivalent, because while I plan on finding a “real job,” I don’t know that I would be opposed to acting as a housewife some day in the future. Eek, stop the presses, what? No, seriously. I’m not convinced there’s anything at all bad in that role despite all the strong rhetoric. Maybe the bad part is if a woman is forced to take on that role, if she wants to get out of it but cannot… Well, this takes some thinking through, because right now I honestly enjoy some of the “chores” that are supposed to be so onerous—I like having cleaned the kitchen, for instance, and having the moment where I stand back and say, “Yep. I cleaned that and now it looks good.” Of course, I get up the next morning and there’s dried, congealed cheesy pizza grease soaking through some paper towels onto the counter and a knife has been left all covered with cheese to cement to the paper towel, and I want to scream. If I have to scrape off one more knife or plate with hardened pizza cheese on it…! Well, we will just see how mild-mannered and “housewifey” I remain then.
– KF –