by Jodi Kasten
There are many, many ways I can think of that women are not yet equal to men. We still only make a fraction of what men do on a per-dollar basis. (76 cents I believe?) We are not allowed into full combat in the military. We are judged on our ability to be mothers and housekeepers before our ability to do our jobs. All of that is real and I am the last person to say there aren’t a million other reasons that women have not yet attained equal status with men.
However, I have a bone to pick with my female counterparts. Feminism is all about each woman having the right to choose her own path. We should be allowed to do whatever we want in this life and not be judged by society’s arbitrary sex roles, right? Absolutely.
What about men? Do they enjoy this right?
Bob and Jane are a middle class couple. They have two children. They get an amicable divorce. There is a custody hearing. Both of them are good parents. Both of them want to be the primary custody holder. Who gets the children? Seriously, every single time, unless Jane lights up a crack pipe in the courtroom she will get physical custody. Bob is expected by society to be happy with every other weekend and two weeks in the summer. Don’t believe me? What would you think if you heard that a woman only saw her children every other weekend and a few holidays? I PROMISE you would think, “What did she do to lose her kids?” But, with men, that’s just the way it goes, right?
What message does it send to men about what sort of fathers they should be when it's made clear by the courts and their ex-wives that their most important contribution as fathers is a timely child support payment?
Even in less weightier arenas men lose out. If you drive by a house with a dying lawn, is your first thought about what a crappy homeowner the WOMAN is who lives there? Doubt it.
How about at work? Women can openly talk in the break room about the hot new guy in Receiving. What kind of pigs are the men who talk about the hot new manager who happens to be a woman? If a woman asks a male co-worker out on a date, the worst that can happen is rejection. For a man, the worst that can happen is the loss of his job and a sexual harassment suit. Is that gender equality?
Women can wander the world and hug every child they see without suspicion. If a woman gathers the neighborhood children together to organize a community garden, she’s a saint. If a man does it, people wonder if he’s a pedophile. Don’t believe me? Imagine you’re in a toy store and a woman shopping alone comments on what a beautiful little girl you have. You are pleased and flattered. You fill in the woman’s story in your head. She’s probably an overworked mother out to buy toys for a birthday or holiday. What about the middle-aged man wandering that same store alone? Wouldn’t it at least cross your mind that he could be a pervert? Of course it would.
It’s completely okay, even applauded, when female writers, comediennes, singers, song writers and talk show hosts make sweeping generalizations about ALL men being stupid, sex driven, lazy assholes. How do we feel about men who say that women are all crazy, hormonal, irrational, ditzy, frigid bitches?
Thousands of men in America today are routinely physically abused by women. What shelter do they show up at with their children and the clothes on their backs? What would it take to get you to believe that a six-foot-tall, 200 pound man is abused by his tiny little wife? But, every single one of us has seen a woman who could easily beat her husband’s ass being smacked around by a wiry little Napoleon-like man. What would you think of a man you heard say, “I am afraid of my wife?”
What a wussy, right?
I must say, I don’t know a single man, NOT ONE, who thinks I am a lesser person because I have a vagina. The men I know see women as mysterious, alluring and even holy. Men are now often the stay-at-home parent. Women have the option of being the sole breadwinner in a way they have never been allowed before in human history. I know my husband would do that for me in a second.
People want what they can’t have. Women are sent the message that any man will sleep with them because sex is all they think about. Sex makes them stupid, right? Men are told that women will “hold out on them.” We all want the unattainable, what we can’t have.
What would you think of a man who told a woman he would give her diamond jewelry if she had sex with him? How is that different than “holding out” on a man because he doesn’t give you jewelry? Or take out the garbage? Or mow the lawn? There should be no "price" on intimacy.
We will only have equal rights as women when we FULLY recognize that each person is a human being, regardless of sex, with the same wants, needs and feelings as everyone else. Sure, we’re hooked up differently. But, how can we expect to be treated equally as women when every man is characterized as Homer Simpson?
One final thought - I was clothes shopping with my almost-12-year-old daughter the other day. We saw t-shirts that said, “Girl Power!” – “Girls Rock!” – “Boys Suck!” – and my personal favorite “Boys Are Great, Every Girl Should Own One!”
I also have an almost-11-year-old boy. If he went to school with a shirt that said “Boy Power!” or “Girls Are Great, Every Boy Should Own One,” how long would he last? I guess it just goes without saying that boys can do anything, including staying silent while girls are brought up in a culture that has swung from female empowerment to male bashing.
I suppose all I really want to say here is that it is wrong to judge any sex as a whole. Men and women are individuals. We all begin as children and children do what is expected of them. If we expect men to be stupid, sex-crazed frat boys, many will comply. If we expect girls to think “Boys Suck,” they will comply.
We do NOT have to stand on the backs of men to get ahead.
We can go forward together.