I grew up in a household where my Dad is about as feminist as a conservative Christian man can be.
On women’s ordination: “Your Mum would probably make a better pastor than a lot of men I know”.
On stay at home parents : “If someone needs to stay at home, whoever earns the least should stay at home, and if that’s the man, tough luck for him“.
On earning more than a man: ” Never be dependent on someone”.
This was, however, inevitably interrupted with the proclamation “I AM THE HEAD OF THIS HOUSEHOLD!” at various critical moments in my childhood.
Despite that, the overwhelming ideology I grew up with was the idea that although men and women were different and that my faith called for different roles within the family, outside of the home I was destined to be a super-duper CEO/Prime minister/consultant neurosurgeon, large and in charge and no one, certainly no man, could tell me anything.
I still passionately believe that having women at the top of their profession is not only positive, but necessary, and I get more than a little bit excited when I see women, especially black women, running companies, heading businesses and being exceptional in their field.
In a relationship though, I like the man to be in charge.
And it’s not a reluctant acquiescence or a part of my faith that I struggle with. People that suggest that every woman SHOULD stay at home and look after children and that their primary function in life is to incubate and birth offspring? Yes, I find that insulting (especially to women who will never get married) and frankly, silly..But the man being the ‘leader’ in the relationship? Nope, it actually comes as a massive relief.
Being the type of women who is relatively successful in most people’s eyes, and has had the privilege of a good education and hopefully a developing career, I actually welcome having someone make decisions on my behalf sometimes. Of course I want a partnership where there is mutual respect and admiration, but I choose to be in partnerships where the man takes on a leadership role. That’s just me. I simply cannot abide passive men who let me drag them through the whole relationship by the scruff of their skinny fit jeans. Simply put, I need Tyrone to get a spinal cord and some vertebrae to go with it. A spinal cord that I cannot easily crush with my manicured hands.
Now, I’m sure some feminists will see this as a level of Stockholm syndrome. Perhaps I’ve been so indoctrinated into viewing women’s role as being naturally in subjection to men, that I’ve not only accepted it, but begun to like it….and I don’t really care.
In fact, my brief internet browse on this topic didn’t yield much apart from a lot of articles where feminists were in a quandary about whether the fact that they liked men to dominate them in the bedroom made them somewhat un-feminist. Most of them (inevitably) concluded that as long as they had decided that they liked it, it was fine. Obviously I’m biased, but I’m inclined to think that part of the reason some women feel drawn to these sexual behaviours is because we’ve managed to erode so much of what I believe are natural roles within male-female relationships. Men and women are different – yes, biologically different. Their brains are structurally different. We’ve had a tendency to exaggerate these differences and use them to state that women are incapable of certain things, but the solution to this is not to deny that differences exist, the solution is to redress the imbalance.
We’re scared that if we adopt traditional gender roles at home, we won’t be able to switch it off at work, and we won’t be able to fight the continuing battle against unequal pay, sexual harassment in the workplace, and the massive glass ceiling that exists for women.
I’ve become very comfortable in my own gender ethics. I’m perfectly happy being a super-boss in the workplace and having a traditional home life. I don’t find it contradictory or confusing – the office is not my living room.
The problem is that the majority of women want to be romanced, have men open doors, buy them dinner on the first date and all the other things that 13 year old day dreams are made of. If we are striving towards a form of egalitarianism proposed by some branches of feminism that eradicates gender norms, then of all that has to go with it. At the very least those practices can’t be gender specific.
I don’t feel bad about demanding equal pay for equal work while wanting someone to pay for the first or second (Or all?) dates and eventually coming home to scrub his shirt collars. It’s my belief system, it’s my choice.
There’s no need for all this wrist-wringing – just relax and release. You can lean in at work and then come home and lean over the hob if you want to. With no apology.
Ladies, what’s the deal? do you like men being in charge? What do you believe? Men, do you like being the ‘leader’? Or do you think it’s unfair to burden you with that responsibility?