Our Material Mom Elisa Woodward says although many men don’t say it, their behavior indicates that they’d really rather women just stick to playing wives and mothers. Her piece, below.
My husband and I got into a mini-debate a couple of weeks ago – while watching Troy on TV – about whether women should just stick to looking pretty and playing supportive wives and mothers to men. Before you think I’m married to an MCP (male chauvinist pig), let me explain that my husband is anything but one. This is a man who has utmost respect for women in the workforce.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about it: Do men still think the best place for a woman is at home, playing wife and mother? Even in this age where many women are offered the same opportunity at school and at work, do our men subconsciously believe the world would be a less complicated place if women didn’t go out to work?
So I started asking the men I knew – friends, colleagues, family – if they thought women are best only as mothers and wives. And you know what? So many of them tried to get out of giving me a straight answer! Many of them simply did not want to answer my question at all.
There’s Always Something Else
I’ve also noticed something many men do. Even if they begrudgingly admit that you are good at your job, that you are talented, they always have to add a caveat like, ” … but women and their PMS” or ” … women should still not be allowed on the road”. No matter how good or how successful we may be, men always think our “womenly” qualities work against us.
A Woman = ???
Of all the identities we women struggle to assert, those of “mother” and “wife” are the ones men are least likely to contest. If we said, “I’m a good driver”, a man would definitely go, “Yeah right! You don’t check your blind spots.” But if we said, “I’m a good mother”, more often than not, men are happy to let us take that honor. No man would go, “Yeah right! Your fridge is empty!”
Bear with me here, but I’m going to make this assumption: Is it because men feel that women have the monopoly in the roles “Mother” and “Wife”?
Women are Emotional Creatures?
Another argument that has been used to death by men to disprove our capabilities is that we are “emotional”. Recently, the Japanese forerunner was criticized by women voters for saying, in an interview with a men’s magazine, that women should not be allowed to lead the country because our menstrual cycles make us irrational. “Women are not normal when they are having their period … you can’t possibly let them make critical decisions about the country [during their period],” he said.
It goes back to the tired, oft-used misconception that when we women flip out, we are being “crazy bitches”, but when a man loses his temper, he’s showing his aggression and showing who’s the boss.
Such gender stereotypes held by the men I have spoken to disappointed me because in Singapore, boys and girls are offered the same opportunity from very early on in their lives.
It’s No Point We Keep Insisting That We Are Not Inferior To Men
I think it’s time we pay more than just lip service to the issue of gender roles in today’s society. It’s no use if women keep saying we are as good, if not better, than men. It’s no use if men just silently, begrudgingly accept that they are going to have to deal with women as their bosses. People have got to want to see it happen. First, women can be good bosses, good with money, good at driving etc. Second, men can be mothers, men can be wives, men can play the role of a nurturer when it comes to bringing up the kids.
We should continue to blur the lines between what a man should do and what a woman should do. There are no fixed roles anymore. A woman can be the breadwinner while the man, a househusband. And if we want to bring up well-balanced children, it is time we accept these as the norm and not go, “Wow! That’s unheard of!” when things like this come to our attention.
Just as we women refuse to let men tell us where our business should be at, we as mothers should also try our best to not set down the boundaries of what is a “girl thing” and what is a “boy thing” on our children. If your daughter wants to be a construction worker when she grows up, don’t say, “It’s a job for the men!” If your son wants to be a ballet dancer, don’t say things like, “Real men don’t wear tights.”
And maybe, just maybe, our kids will grow up to be more enlightened than their parents are now.
About The Author: Elisa Woodward, a career-focused wife and a mom of two active boys, is a Jack of all trades, who enjoys flummoxing people. She likes getting her hands dirty (figuratively and literally), yet enjoys dressing up just enough to “look acceptable”. She embraces wholeheartedly the concept of getting older. In this post, Elisa candidly shares the fears she faces as a mother.
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