I was sitting in a language class in a discussion about miscommunication last term when a female student commented, “I’m such a girl: I never say what I mean.”
There are so many problems with this far-reaching sexist assumption that it’s hard to know where to begin.
First of all, the only thing I can think of that can possibly be more counter-productive in day-to-day life than never saying what you mean is the fact that half the population assumes that women don’t — even when they say exactly what they mean. Why the ridiculous assumption? I fail to see the point, unless people are blatantly attempting to cause upheaval. Secondly, the current trend is, apparently, to teach our youth that being silly or just plain deceptive is part of being female. After all, never saying what you mean implies that you’re either an imbecile or hiding something and have a secret agenda. I’ve been told that I, being a woman, must mean something other than what I’m saying because “women always have something going on that they’re trying to get away with.” Why aren’t more women disgusted by this attitude?
Perhaps this is due to society’s tendency to conflate value with earning potential. If you haven’t been paying attention, women still earn 73 cents for every dollar a man makes — for the same work. Translation: Women aren’t worth as much as men, and women’s work, presumably, doesn’t match the quality of men’s simply because it’s a woman working. Worse, women make less money over time because many of them take time off to raise their children — a task for which there is no fiscal reward. In fact, it’s a fiscal vacuum. Meaning, of course, that “women’s work” is pretty much worthless. I know that’s not the way people think of it in general terms. Most everyone loves their mom and appreciates everything she did for them. But if we want to figure out why there’s such a high rate of postpartum depression in mothers, maybe we need to take a look at how we treat new mothers.
Which is like they’re not worth any money — that they’re parasites unless they have men to provide for them. Which means, for having “his” baby, she owes him her life — and at his whim, she can be dismissed and in a world of hurt. No wonder she’s depressed. Even if he’s a good man, she’s still his subject.
We’ve all heard the divorce stories about how the woman supposedly gets everything, including child support. But if you look at the statistics, divorced men are not only much better off financially, but physically and emotionally as well. You don’t really need to see the statistics, though. You probably know a divorced mom and know how financially strapped she is. Her ex might not be in Tahiti with a plastic trophy wife in one hand and a Corona in the other, but there’s a pretty good chance he isn’t scraping nickels together for diapers, either.
There’s also the other matter: “His” baby. If a single woman is ever pregnant, people don’t ask who the father is. They ask, “Whose is it?” Meaning, of course, “Who is financially responsible for this child/this mess/your actions?” See, men having sex outside wedlock isn’t as bad a thing as a woman doing the same thing, in most cultures — if he can provide financially for his offspring and pay to get her or himself out of sight, quickly. But a woman? She’s tainted goods now. Extra baggage. Worthless. Deflowered. No longer wife material. And if she’s not wife material, what is she? Welfare material. It all comes back to what a person is worth in dollars.
I’ve been a mother for a long time. My kids are awesome, and even show promise. I’m currently married, but I was a single mom for ten years. I suffered through postpartum depression alone. Amazingly, I’m still here — and it isn’t because anyone “saved” me. I had to save myself. This involved not only changing the way I thought about myself, but also ignoring other people’s opinions and dirty looks and calling DCFS on me. They would say that I was a stripper and I beat my kids and all manner of other lies. When I heard the “pole dancer” one, I nearly fell over laughing. I couldn’t dance on a pole to save my life, for starters.
Who do you think was calling them with this BS? Not men. Women.
I think there are more sexist women than there are men, and they are sexist against women. Don’t believe me? Try being a single mom sometime. Motherhood is supposedly this sacred art, which potentially can propel the most meager woman almost to the status of a goddess — provided there’s a man around. If there’s not — well, obviously “single mom” is synonymous with “slut.” And though men do tend to support this theory, it is by and large a female-created assumption. If daddy doesn’t stick around, it’s not because there’s anything the matter with him. It’s always something that must be the matter with her. Did she not cook a good enough casserole? Did she not darn his socks readily? Did she speak her mind too much, instead of saying the opposite of what she thought? Is it possible that she didn’t get her figure back fast enough, and it drove him to infidelity? Well, of course it is. After all, he’s the breadwinner. She owes everything to him. As he’s almost literally “the money,” his actions are all but excusable compared to a woman’s, as her actions may cost money that she, being female, isn’t worth. Without a man, she’s nothing but a welfare whore.
Women have somehow bought into the idea that being nasty to each other, gossiping, and having secret agendas is fun and feminine. Television romanticizes it. (Ever watch “I Love Lucy?” Always scheming. Cute for Lucy, but not so much in reality.) Frankly, I’d rather shoot myself, and I mean that. Obviously these ideas don’t just come from TV. I can tell you that my own mother (who always means well) once told me to act like he’s smarter and let him take credit for my ideas because it makes him feel good about himself. Wait a minute here; I’m supposed to act like a feather-headed moron to make him happy? I can’t be happy if I’m selling myself short in order to make some jerk feel good at my expense. You’ll never catch me being intentionally dependent on someone because I’m, oh, such a silly girl. Nothing makes me sicker than that thought. But this is what is expected of women: Do anything and everything you can to catch a man, regardless of how stupid it makes you look. You want to be somebody, right? Well, you can’t be — not without a male counterpart. You can’t climb the social ladder without money, and men equal money in this world.
No pressure there, right, guys? Women look at you and think, “What’s he worth? What does he do? Can he support a family? What can I tell my friends about his career/car/father?” The first thing anyone asks me about my husband is, “What does he do?” I tell them, “Well, he plays a lot of video games, climbs rocks, cooks a mean omelet, turns wood bowls and stuff.”
“No, what does he do for a living?”
You’re just dying to know, aren’t you?
Apparently, the objectification of women doesn’t stop at women. Men are objects themselves — albeit more along the lines of machinery — whereas women and children are treated as status symbols.
I wanted someone to actually love me for who I am, not for what I can do for him or how I can make him look. I finally got my wish, now that two-thirds of my kids are teenagers. My husband is secure enough with his own brains that he doesn’t need me to act stupid in order to boost his ego. And I have to have a guy with brains around, or I get bored. I don’t need to scheme for his attention. I have it whenever I want it. And guess who I owe?
His loving, strong-willed, no-nonsense mother.