Today I am linking up with the Faith Feminisms’ week-long sychroblog project. This piece is very tongue-in-cheek and not nearly as eloquent as many other pieces I’ve read in this series (like this beautiful piece from Karissa Knox Sorrell) but I think it still fits into the conversation. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #faithfeminisms.
Every night my husband washes the dishes. We don’t have a dishwasher, so he does it by hand, standing at the kitchen sink in his undershirt because our un-air-conditioned kitchen is so unbearably hot right now. I watch him as he scrubs the pots and pans, dries each piece and puts it away. And I think, I hate when he does MY job like that. I’m the woman here. Dishes are MY thing.
I’d love to say that the dishes are the only responsibility he rips from my delicate hands, but no, he also has the audacity to sweep the floor. To clean the bathroom. To run to the grocery store. At least he lets me cook dinner. At least I still have that to cling to.
On days when I pay the bills I am overwhelmed with anxiety. How can he trust me with our finances like that? Should I really be this involved in budgeting and bill-paying? Won’t I screw it up? But the insufferable man seems to think I’m just as good with the money as he is.
Sometimes, I wish, just for once, that my husband would be frustrated that our salaries are exactly the same. Shouldn’t it bother him that we do the same job and get paid the exact same amount? After all, he is a man. Doesn’t that make him worth more? Where’s his sense of self-respect?
I really hate the way my husband tells me that I am smart and talented and capable and strong, as well as beautiful. Like I really need to focus on ALL of those things! I mean, isn’t it enough for me to just be pretty and quiet? If he starts thinking I’m smart and creative and make valuable contributions, there’s going to be all this pressure for me to think deeply about things and influence the world around me. I don’t know if I can handle all of that. Doesn’t he know I’m a member of the “weaker sex.” I don’t think I have the constitution for it.
A year and a half ago I came up with this crazy idea – “Hey, honey. Let’s sell everything we own, move across the world and teach English in a foreign country!” But did he do the sensible thing and smile and pat my head and say, “No, honey. We’re not going to do that”? No! Of all the times I thought I could count on him to lay down the law and make the tough decision, this seemed like an obvious one. But instead he wanted to discuss it. He wanted to listen to my ideas and research it together. He said that if it was important to me, then we should consider it. Do you know how stressful that was for me? Having an equal voice in making that decision? It would have been so easy to just do whatever he felt was right. But he wouldn’t hear of it. He said we were a team. He said we needed to reach a decision together. So I had to research and discuss and decide with him. What a jerk, right?
On the weeks I lead our house church, my husband weighs my thoughts against the Scripture and he considers what I have to say the exact same way he does when he or another man is leading. It’s unnerving, really. I mean, doesn’t he know I am just a woman? Doesn’t he know I can’t be taken seriously? But he seems to think that God speaks to and through women just as much as men. He seems to have gotten it into his head that God could use me too. That he might even learn something from me.
Pity me, women of the world. I’m married to a feminist and it’s ruining my life.
I’d been told that my identity as a woman was dependent on fitting into a certain mold. I’d been told I would always be secondary to my husband, able to influence but never to lead. I’d been told that being paid fairly for my work or being the primary bread-winner would emasculate my husband. I’d been told that my roles in life and in marriage were clearly defined and unmovable. I I’d been told that my gender mattered more than my humanity. I’d been told that my thoughts and words were made less valuable because of the shape of the body they came out of.
And now I’m married to this man who says my identity goes beyond my gender. A man who sees me as being every bit as valuable as he is. A man who is not threatened by my successes – personal, professional, or financial. A man who values my opinions, listens to my advice, and refuses to make a decision without me. A man who sees intelligence, creativity and strength in me and encourages me to cultivate those things. A man who doesn’t believe in dividing our home into “his” and “hers” zones. A strong, responsible, smart, and hard-working man who is isn’t afraid to be tender and loving and kind.
So, yeah, not what I signed up for…