Apparently it’s cis-het feminist catharsis day in one of my facebook groups. We’re discussing this egregiously common trait in cis-het relationships:
Men will swear this isn’t a thing, and yet the women of the group are in unanimous agreement that this is not only a thing but is a rampant, life-ruining dumpster fire of a thing that plagues their lives.
And it’s certainly not limited to homemakers, as detractors like to dismiss. For me, I was the primary breadwinner 50-60 hours a week as well as a grad student by night, with homework on top of all that. As I learned, however, adopting the persona of a tortured artist means you can rely on others to take care of you, have zero self-crit about it, and then gaslight your partner for taking you to task for it. The crux of why many of the relationships described in the group crumbled was this: Just because your spouse is Wonderwoman doesn’t mean she wants to be or that she is enjoying it. Ask yourselves if you’re purposefully pushing her into that role.
This really rang true for me. And the big picture is that it affected so much else–it wasn’t just the lack of chores…. the narcissism and lack of accountability behind that behavior bled into every other aspect of our lives together. For example, my ex-partner complained that I didn’t pursue my interests as aggressively as he did his own. Being separated for a few years now & actively enjoying hobbies I never had time for, I know now that this isn’t the case for me as person. If given the wiggle room and financial safety net of a reliable partner (or even a partner who didn’t hem and haw at the idea of going out unless it was 100% related to his interests), I might have delved into more hobbies of my own. We’ll never know; I wasn’t afforded that chance because my partner put his own hobbies above my interests and left me to be the safety net for both of us. I could never fail. It wasn’t an option, or we would both drown. It was a unidirectional siphon of a relationship; his needs and wants were always first, with never a thought for all the money and time I’d waste and the resentment that would build up because of it. And because I leaned into my character flaw of people-pleaser/giver, I let it happen. Another example, I’d buy our tickets to a convention, festival, or other event–and he would purposefully not go to bed early enough for us to arrive on time. We’d miss half the event because he “must get 9 hours of sleep” and yet would take no special steps to ensure he got it without us being late. One time I purchased a table for our joint venture at a comic con…. he wouldn’t go to bed early the night before despite my begging, and we missed half of the prime sales day because he also refused to get up before 10. And he could not figure out why I was irritable all afternoon and moving quickly. I never made that investment back.
Occasionally I’d get brave and stand up for myself, but every fight about equity and consideration turned into a gaslighting trip down “You don’t love me”/”you’re crazy”/”you don’t respect my emotional problems” Lane. Even at the end, it was my fault somehow because we had “grown apart”. Golly, I wonder how that happened. Typically, women are not pedophiles, so it’s a wonder why women don’t want to have sex with children. What a great segue into another common theme from the group today that resonated with me:
A third observation in the group today (and one I’ve been making for years) is that a woman does household duties every day and thinks or says nothing of it, but a man might perform one such duty and proudly proclaims it –even in so far as being equivalent to the woman’s contributions. This grinds my gears because it’s such a textbook overcompensation move, so clearly the guy knows deep down his contributions are unequal, or else he’d just silently do them and move on. And yet, here we are as a society where a man needs a reward for contributing.
So, how can this culture even begin to unpack and combat a widespread disparity of perspective? The issue can’t be solved by devising lists and demanding a man complete it on some kind of schedule; the issue is the overwhelmingly cis-het male perspective of not needing to complete the tasks in the first place and that lists are required at all. It’s so easy to see where the nagging wife stereotype comes from when the dynamics are so skewed–when asking a man to literally co-maintain his living space with you is seen as a condescending “chore” instead of a requirement of existing in a partnership.
Culturally entrenched misogyny takes many generations to fix, and this generation is obviously not the one at the finish line (although men will swear up and down that it is….). With that in mind, I refuse to date seriously again until I meet my match. I’m too fucking okay to be impressed by men who live in cesspools, take the trash out once a month as “a favor” to their housemates, and cook ramen noodles because they’re too busy “being real” and “pursuing their dream”. You were on facebook for three hours today, I know you could have done ten minutes’ of dishes.