Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Spitting mad. Again.

It's usually the Daily Fail, or something from America that gets me really worked up, but nope, this time it's The Telegraph. Specifically this article.

Essentially, it's explaining how being assertive at work and in the home, and expecting your SO to do his share of the housework, and let you have your say in how the house is run is turning him into an emasculated man-child who can't do anything because he's scared of doing it wrong.

Here's the anti-feminist buzzword bingo for you:
"Ballbreakers" - check
"traditionally masculine/feminine traits" - check
Any reference to "hunter-gatherers" or cave men - check
"male instinct to protect/ provide" - check, on both counts
"unfashionable truth" about "biological/ innate gender difference" - yup - (please, dear God go read Natasha Walter's "Living Dolls" before you go spounting that old chestnut...)
"Biologically programed/ hardwired" - check
"emasculation" - check
"feminism" - Nope.

Women today,"demand total equality at home." And why the hell not? but according to Ms Woods (the article's author) "It's by no means an unreasonable expectation – but it is an unwise one." Unwise? Unwise?? Why?
Because apprently men will be unable to do the chores up to the female standard; and then when women have to clean up after their SO, "By taking over every household task, women are effectively colluding in their partner's lack of involvement. Women are better multi-tuskers and so when our partners don't come up to scratch we complain bitterly as a parent would, and end up doing the job ourselves, infantilising them in the process," she says. (The "she" being Francine Kaye, aka "The Divorce Doctor") "We end up labelling our men lazy, because they have to be told what to do and nagged into doing it, but the truth is, we have pushed them to the point where they are afraid to take the initiative, because they feel they can never get anything right"

Her solution then? Massage your partner's ego, and he will become a Real Man again. Apparently, "To get our relationships back on track, we women must try to rein in our control-freakery and rediscover our femininity, which will (theoretically) reawaken our partner's dormant masculinity. We must praise our partners, thank them for taking us out to dinner (even if we split the bill) and generally massage their tattered egos." Instead of telling our men-folk to stop being such whiny children, suck it up, and get on with it the way women have been doing for centuries?

At least Woods aknowledges at the end of her piece that "It's a bitter pill to swallow for those of us who have spent our working lives striving for parity," and "If you find yourself slack-jawed in horror at the prospect of letting your partner off the hook so easily, then welcome to the club," but she still seems to be coming down on the side of Kaye's poison... why? because apparently it works. Yes, like decapitation solves your dandruff problems.

The thing is, if it was just about appreciating one's partner for being supportive and helping out, (never mind that this should be normal - do you ever thank your SO for not being a murderer? no! because not-being-a-murderer, like being-a-supportive-partner-and-doing-your-bit should damn well be the default state...) I might just be able to contemplate it. On the proviso that we women got appreciated just as much for doing our 50% (which we don't, and yet we still manage to get on with it...) but this is more than that. What is being advocated here is a massive step backwards. I'll leave you with the closing remarks, just to illustrate:

"My female clients are invariably amazed at how much impact an appreciative approach can have on their partner, and how quickly he responds when they show their more feminine side," she says. "It's not a case of being all helpless and girlie, but of being more feminine. If you behave more like a woman, your partner will act more like a man."

So yeah. The best solution would be for us all to toddle back to the 1950s, like good little girls, and just act more feminine. Who's betting we still get saddled with the washing up?

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