The late great master Leonard Cohen from Democracy.. “from the homicidal bitchin’ that goes down in every kitchen to determine who will serve and who will eat.”
One of my daughters brought a male friend home for dinner a couple of years back. Right after dinner he began clearing the table and setting up the dish pan to wash the supper dishes.
I LOVED him from that moment on and began plotting for him to marry one of my daughters.
Why does that moment affect me so much? Why is that such a huge event in my mind?
I absolutely notice that when I have guests some of the women will put food away, do up dishes, tidy up and ask what they can do to help, but not all women. I would say 8 out of 10 of women guests will automatically assist with domestic tasks and I appreciate them, but not as much as I appreciated that young man! I know that is not fair of me.
I think it’s because I can distinctly recall and identify every man who has been a guest here and helped with dishes or service without being specifically asked to do something.
That number is 2 in 23 years of cooking for people in my home. Two men I can recall simply stepping in and helping out in the way most women automatically do. No wonder I was pleased with this gem of a guy!
This does not count Dave who lives here and did do dishes on rare occasions when he was feeling better and I know that there are men who do the lions share of domestic work in their households but we can all agree this is not the average, not even close.
I also notice that men who do domestic work in their own homes have not matched this when they are guests in mine! They assume the role of being served when they arrive as guests and this does not just happen at my house! I have asked around.
There is a huge discrepancy in gender jobs that go on in every household but we don’t talk about it as a society. We generally accept it as normal and feel uncomfortable pointing it out, even though many women resent the feeling of being a servant and are exhausted after every family holiday.
How many Christmas, feast events or Hanukkah dinners this year ended with the men going from the table to the living room and sitting down while the girls and the women do all the clean up? How many family dinners are cooked by the women world-wide when all are working all day or both genders are home for the holidays?
In so many cultures we raise our sons to believe they are entitled to be served and pampered. We do not expect them to do domestic work, the unpaid work of living. We do not teach them how to look after themselves, but instead we teach them, by repetitive example validated in their friends and neighbours homes and through the media, to expect to be served.
We train our daughters to serve, to cook, clean and cater to men and we train our boys to accept this as their right. We need to stop doing this.
We speak of our sons as more important and worthy than daughters in almost every culture in the corrupt world. In some places we even kill girl children to make room for more boy children!
This is a disservice to both genders as we observe so many young men who do not know how to feed themselves or look after basic household and personal hygiene out in the world without their Mamma’s, just waiting to find a woman who will look after them. They are helpless to meet their daily needs and it is their parents fault! How many elderly men do not know how to look after the basic necessities of life? No wonder they most often die before their spouses!
I have met many women of all ages do not want to be in relationships with men because they see it as having to look after someone and they don’t want the job of an unpaid personal servant! They tell me it is too much work to be in a ‘live-together’ relationship. I also know men who are looking for a woman to look after them as their partners have quit!
We have to address this in our homes for it ever to change. Men have to stop believing they are entitled to service and women have to stop believing they have to accept being a servant.
We can all work together and share what needs to be done in the everyday looking after of life’s needs and the division of household tasks, including bringing in the funds. All this needs to be talked about and defined in each individual household and relationship.
This is something that we can change that will help future generations share life more equality. If we start expecting men to take on the same amount of work and respect as we ask from women the ‘normal’ will change.
Perhaps assign people tasks or pass out dish towels, help people notice that there is work to be done and many hands make it easier! It can be accomplished in playful and creative ways and does not have to carry the charge of resentment if we recognize this is a co-created expectation that we are all responsible for establishing.
As women, we can start taking responsibility for our role in creating this scenario and begin to change our own expectations and responses. We can notice what we expect of our women friends and start expecting that of our male friends too!
Equal work and equal respect is all that is being asked here. We can do this. We can make this shift.