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Women, wives, significant others, non-binary gender partners, and spouses at-large: we men (and/or partners and personalities who might not hear you) hear you.
What Harper Bazaar’s Gemma Hartley misses in her ultra-viral article “Women Aren’t Nags, We’re Just Fed Up” is that not just men—but any S.O. who has a certain atypical personality and assumes a gender role from their parents that may not be traditionally the “dumb man not get household chores”—are guilty for not sharing in the “emotional labor” part of “household management.”
Plenty of stay-at-home-dads, Danny Tanners, regular guys, feminist-ally dads, LGBTQ partners who assume the “typical” cisgender role of “dad” or “male/masculine figure” in the household not only have their own share of emotional labor from full time work but also—just like the author—emotional weight and labor from parent and partnerhood.
That is, after a long day of emotional labor at work, many partners are deaf and blind to that goddamn sock or box on the floor—whether that partner is a man or woman. If your house is your workplace, then you’ve won the terrible lottery of slipping into a role that has held women down for centuries, but that doesn’t mean that wives are nags.
It just means that they nag differently—and feel like nags differently—than the worker who is coming home to home and also nags at his or her own pace.
Yes, women (and femme partners) are expected—more than men or non-femme/masculine partners—to fulfill typical roles that expect the woman or femme to carry the weight of household managers as well as be full-time out-of-the-house workers, parents, and partners.
Yes, bearing the brunt of emotional labor is frustrating for women/femmes as well as anyone else, but mainly females, traditionally, and in most cultures historically.
Yes, men (and any partners) need to listen and do exactly what their partners are requesting—and vice versa.
But it’s not always easy and clean cut like that, and sometimes a partner just needs to pick up the damn box and put it away for the 50th time.
“That’s the point,” I said, now in tears, “I don’t want to have to ask.”
As a teacher, parent, and coach, I often wonder why I have to repeat myself, since I have such a loud voice and I’m usually clear about what I desire of my children, athletes, and students.
One time, while coaching from the sidelines, I asked why the athletes were ignoring my repeated “yelling” of instructions.
Their response? That they had gotten good at drowning out my voice, and that they weren’t always listening, well, just because. They’re busy running, kicking, passing, reading, writing, etc., and don’t always hear me or want to hear me.
That’s how it goes with authoritarian figures and managers. People just don’t listen.
But when it comes to S.O.s and co-parents, I don’t want to drown out my wife’s voice or have her drown out mine because she’s not an authoritarian figure to me, nor am I to her. She’s my wife, friend, partner, lover, mother to my children, and when we’re not working at work, we home at home. And “home-ing” is work. But it’s not a workplace.
So we have to revise the narrative, because the children are building their ideas about how to be adults and how to treat their future partners just by listening and being in close proximity to our loud conversations.
And we need to get out of the damn house more.
And maybe hire a cleaner.
But not just for Mother’s Day.
The #StopSexism Social Interest Group aims to address the issues of everyday sexism, identify contributing factors, and discuss the implications and effects of sexism. We hold weekly calls by phone, and together will explore ideas to combat inequality, gender bias, and society’s expectations.
The weekly conference calls will be avenue for deeper conversation and for coming up with innovative plans to counter sexism on the ground at the grassroots level. Weekly conference calls are every Monday at 7:30 EST.
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