Being a feminist seems like a no brainer these days but it’s actually really fucking hard. If we’re going to achieve true equality, we need to lead by example and I screw it up every single day.
I wear makeup. I lie to myself and say it’s to make me feel good but if that was true (that makeup made people feel good) most men would wear it too and they don’t. I wear it because it makes me look fresh and pretty and people say nice things to me and THAT makes me feel good. I’m also starting to get congratulated on ‘ageing well’. Which I obviously love hearing but no one says it to my male partner, because his youth isn’t praised and coveted like my female youth is. I’ve been raised to believe that that my looks are my most precious commodity and I’m yet to be proven wrong. It’s a very scary thought for someone who’s not getting any younger.
I cook most of our household meals because I watch my weight. My partner would be more than happy to halve our cooking responsibilities but it’s just easier for me to do it because my eating habits are varied and complicated. He eats whatever I eat and it doesn’t matter because he has a lightning fast dude metabolism that keeps him super svelte no matter what he eats. I spend at least an hour a day at the gym and he goes for two runs a week to ‘clear his head’. I do most of the shopping because I do most of the cooking and that’s more of my time I’m using to maintain a societal expectation of what my body should look like. I like being healthy and I like feeling fit but sometimes I wonder if I would care as much if I lived on a deserted island where no one ever saw me. I suspect I wouldn’t. I just sometimes look at my life compared to my partner’s and I spend about 10 times what he does on body maintenance (in time and money) and it just seems so deeply unfair.
The double standards are exhausting enough without me adding to them. There’s no such thing as perfect feminist (you’ll never take my hairspray!) but it’s really important to constantly monitor and question our own behaviour.
Here are a few things I’m trying to do more of to fight casual sexism in my own house….
1. Care less about removing my body hair
I’m not a particularly hairy lass but I’ve spent a good portion of my life/disposable income removing my body hair. I want to not care but unfortunately, I do. However I have become far more relaxed about it and after a few years of laser treatments I have soft, peachy fuzz under my arms that I remove every few months when I could be bothered. If someone cops a look at my hairy underarms in between these times, I don’t a give a shit. I don’t owe anyone smooth arm pits. This is also completely anecdotal but I spend at least a few thousand dollars per year more on my appearance than Mr Smaggle does. Not only do I (sometimes) earn less because of the pesky pay gap, but I’m expected to use my 79 cents to his dollar on face paint, body tint, fillers, highlights, creams, lotions and treatments. No wonder women end up with far less money than men do in retirement.
2. Sell cars
I recently sold my car and when I say that I mean Mr Smaggle sold it. He fixed it up, put the ad on Gumtree, arranged for people to come and look at it and shook hands on the final deal. It wasn’t until the car was sold that I realised I really should have done that myself but the reason why I didn’t was that I’ve never actually seen a woman sell a car before, so my brain just defaulted to that being a man job. My dad sold all our family cars. My partner’s dad sold their family cars. I’ve been raised in a world where women don’t know enough to sell cars which is absolutely bollocks. I drove the damn thing for 10 years. I’m the most qualified person in the world to sell it. Next time, I’m selling my own bloody car.
3. Make the men organise the food
To be fair, my partner is a feminist and so are most of our mates so my household and the ones I spend most of my time in have pretty even splits of chores. There’s one thing that constantly bothers me though and it’s that the women take charge of the food and social organisation, almost exclusively. Men will often cook and prepare food but usually at the request of a leading female. Every picnic or dinner party I’ve been to has been meticulously organised by women, down to the last detail. Just once I’d like to go out for dinner where a woman didn’t pick the restaurant, make the booking, cook the food or text message the other female attendee for an entire afternoon to make sure we don’t end up with two desserts and no salad.
4. Fix stuff on my own
Honestly, I’m not too shabby at this. I’m handy with a drill, I can change all the lightbulbs and I’m a master at spider removal but I have to keep working on it and adding more things to my repertoire. Like changing tires on a car. I CAN do this and I have done this but I have mental issues with it because I don’t think just anyone should be able to change a tire. I feel like I need a qualification or something. Must get over that. It’s not a thought that men have.
5. Not praise men for doing really basic shit
Most of my friends have kids now and their husbands are all ace but it shits me that I even notice this. Men should never be praised for doing something women do all the time. Like change nappies, cook dinner, take kids to the supermarket or look after kids on the weekend while the other parent is away, yet I watch my male mates do this in their homes and I notice it. I will never say anything to them but I’m trying to be less impressed by this.
This week, Kelly and I are talking about the hidden load at home… it’s a doozy of an episode and brings up some stuff we should all be thinking about.
Also I’d love to hear from any same sex couples how the split of chores works. I try really hard to not be heterosexual-normative on Smaggle, when I write about relationships, I never assume I’m writing for opposite-sex couples but this was much harder to write about in an inclusive way.