Let’s plan to keep this fox out of our love.
We love and appreciate you. Having you in our lives as fathers, companions, sons, friends and partners adds so much to our lives. It’s hard to explain all that you mean to us. We know you love us too and see how hard you work to make us happy. However, there are things that break us apart which have nothing to do with us as individuals.
Our Struggle Together
We were both born into the midst of a complex power structure that throws a thousand year punch. Patriarchy. This monster is particularly difficult for us heterosexual couples to navigate because well, we are the oppressor and the oppressed living the same household. You and I may not think of it like that, but according to treatment beyond our doorstep, that is truth. This backwards socialization stomps in and takes a seat on the living room couch before we even set foot in our relationship.
While the whole global population is affected in some way, heterosexual men and women are in a tricky position together. We are often equal parents or partners on the surface while unconsciously battling for power just below the shoreline.
We both work hard to keep politics out of the home and to stay united, supportive and loving of one another, but the system is a sly fox. It is quite adept at finding new tricks, being that its shaky life depends on it. This foxy system is so pervasive that it has found a way to regulate our behaviors within our most private and personal spheres and the scary thing is that we can ‘t even see it!
Since we ultimately want to connect and love each other more, I thought we could investigate this together. Here are a couple of things we are used to saying which don’t benefit us, but clearly benefit the current system’s interests.
I’ll start with our shortcomings. Has your wife, girlfriend, mother, sister ever “joked” that men can’t multitask? Did it hurt? Did you agree, laugh and act like it was no big deal? Either of the above responses can occur or many more variations depending on the amount of times you heard it, how numb or awake you are and how much education you’ve had in the areas of psychology or micro-aggressions.
While I can’t speak for you, I can say that it hurts me to watch the many ways some women “joke” about men, making you, the men in our lives, out to be stupid or less evolved. We say things like “ha, ha, he’s not listening cause he can only focus on one thing.” or “you know MEN” said in that very special role-your-eyes way. We can be nasty. I am so sorry for this. It’s not ok and we shouldn’t do that to you.
Deep down we are really hurt and angry that society continuously exalts your intelligence and well-being above ours, so we passive aggressively lash out and scan for proof that “you are not that smart or great.”
Make no mistake, those jokes are meant to cut, not to provoke laughter. It’s sending a clear the signal that some see this masquerade game and are not having it. It’s our way of fighting back because often we don’t have the space or words to address the very real pain we experience as women in this world.
The problem with this is, the system is now interjecting itself into our love, breaking bonds, creating strife. This behavior serves neither of us in the home and only severs the ties between us, therefore strengthening the outside system’s paradigm of gender wars. Once one knows this game, it becomes almost unbearable to watch or play it.
So now that you’ve got our systemic dirty laundry on the table, would you like some guidance on what your’s sounds like?
Telling us we are difficult, dramatic or crazy. It stabs like a dagger in our stomach. Even when you are not taping those labels on us and are rather attaching them to other women, we get a clear message that we best be cool and accept of all sorts of disrespectful behavior quietly or else those dismissals of validation will be handed to us next. Saying that about any woman essentially keeps us from being ourselves as we scramble to keep from being tagged and tossed.
Many fathers also speak so casually about their beloved daughters in this derogatory way, with a sly wink and chuckle. It usually goes like this “you know, girls can be difficult” tossed out within earshot of their loving children, simultaneously sending daggers of lies towards kids of both genders.
Some men then grow up to place the “crazy” and “difficult” tags on women in their lives, or if you are my former law professor, joke that “women love to complain” when referencing a UN legal complaint mechanism. Hahahaha…not funny at all. Then there are the pervasive comments that often slip by the most liberal of ears, when a father comments on “how easy it is to hang out with his son”, countering his experience with his daughter.
I am not going to define your reality, detailing why these words might slip so easily out of your mouths and into our abdomens. I will say however that those “jokes” are damaging. For those of you who think your wife is down with these things, she’s probably not. She may be unaware of the effects internalized oppression has on her, be numb or well-trained, but cool is not a word I would use to describe her being ok with these put downs. She probably just resolves to attack back or creates an elaborate set of defenses that ends up hurting both of you.
We women really believe you want to show us kindness and warmth, to be true friends and confidants. We also understand how influential cultural conditioning is. That fox is smart and tricky so we need to keep the lines of learning communication open. Let’s try to break these cycles together and start conversations about the small slights that lead to bigger disasters in our homes. Start by asking the women in your life what affect these things have on her. Let’s work together to lock patriarchal patterns outside of our home permanently.
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