This year has seen me orchestrate major domestic changes in my household.
As women, we are taught to fulfil certain roles and expectations, it is almost inherent in our genes to be the carers and nurturers of our children.
This domestic inequality starts from the moment we are taught.
This so called domestic inequality and gender bias is passed on to us by the generations of mothers that have gone before us because they believed they too were doing the right thing.
I took on the mantle of motherhood because I wanted too but it didn’t mean that I should put up with domestic inequality in my household.
My gender predisposes me to fulfil the female role and all that that entails.
I am a challenged feminist, I like the door to be held open by a man because it is a polite courtesy, but I do the same if I’m leading a man .
I’ve come to realise that as a mother I’ve fallen into the trap of enabling our boys and doing too much for them without teaching them to do it for themselves this is turn has meant they’ve learnt to do chores that are typical of the male whilst living with the acceptance that mum does all the other stuff.
In a sense I’m responsible for domestic inequality in my own household.
Sheryl Sandberg in her book “Lean In” discusses the on-going inequalities that exist in the workplace, the differences in pay, women having to choose between being a wife, mother and having a career; but we’ve already heard this before and nothing has changed.
The realisation that I could be behind such misogyny and single handedly treat my children differently just because they are boys and not girls, not teaching or showing them how to do so called female tasks made me stop dead in my tracks.
All this was bought on eighteen months ago when Mr M pointed out that I do far too much for them and by doing so I am letting them get away with not doing stuff that we might associate as the women’s job, ‘mum does it all for them’.
Scratching my head I looked at my husband quizzically and said ‘but that’s my job isn’t it, to love, feed and nurture them just as a lioness tends to her cubs.
No he said, YOU just do far too much they won’t be independent or respect and appreciate women unless we teach them that they are just as capable and able to do everything a woman does around the home and more.
We had an interesting if, somewhat animated discussion, I of course disagreed with him entirely but later I thought about what he said, I didn’t like it but I had to agree that maybe he had a point.
I genuinely believe that I am doing the right thing and that I am following a long line of women before me who have done exactly the same thing raising their children in the same way they were bought up without thinking if it could or should be done differently.
Is it time to change things?
I believe that women are as much to blame for the gender inequality gap as men are.
We don the domestic goddess hat, from making beds, tidying up the mess left behind, cooking and provide taxi services on the pretext that they are too busy, they have too much homework to do, it’s too dangerous to let them travel on their own and so forth.
I recall the demarcation between my chores and my brothers being distinctly male and female.
My parents were differentiating between what chores were suitable for me and my brother and I never questioned why I got the cleaning type chores and he got to mow the lawn as an example.
Gender inequality existed, it may of been done unwittingly and without malice but the fact remains it existed in our house.
We were definitely bought up according to gender, my brother two years younger than me on turning sixteen was allowed to stay out longer than I had been allowed to do at the same age.
Inequality absolutely the assumption being that as a girl it was unsafe for me to stay out later than my brother?
I assumed that it was my job to learn how to prepare the dinner, strip and remake the family beds and tidy up whilst my brother would learn to mend a puncture, clean shoes and do the manly duties as part of his learning.
None of this is wrong in principle other than we should have both been taught to do each other’s tasks and not differentiate between what is a male and female task.
Whilst Sheryl Sandberg addresses the male/female inequalities, she still doesn’t offer any concrete evidence as to how we can change this imbalance, no anecdotes or magic words and whilst this has all been said before I honestly believe that it starts with women, daughters, wives and mothers.
We need to take responsibility for how we raise children and make sure they are taught the importance of equality, for me that means raising them equally and teaching boys the same things a girl would learn and vice versa.
Male dominance, which is what it feels like, will only change if we teach boys that women are just as capable as fulfilling the same tasks and roles as boys/men and that gender shouldn’t have a bearing.
What is the point I’m trying to make?
Over the last year things have changed significantly.
Both my boys can cook to a reasonable standard, they prepare dinner for us all when they have time and they also help around the kitchen and see no need to differentiate between our various household chores.
The proviso is that school work always comes first.
They strip and change their beds, hoover, yes you read it hoover and dust their rooms.
They iron their shirts if they need it in a hurry and don’t want to wait for me to iron it for them and they no longer assume “it’s a mum job”.
My eldest said to me it’s good you are teaching us this stuff mum, after all if I get married who is to say that I won’t be the one staying at home raising kids whilst my wife makes mega bucks and why should I expect her to do women’s stuff when I’m just as capable of doing it too.
If a woman works hard and does well why shouldn’t she be rewarded with a higher salary than that of a man and why should men feel threatened if a woman clearly does the job better.
Wise words from a young man!
Progress, maybe? I want both my boys to understand that as women we are at least as good if not better than men and should be treated equally whether it’s in the boardroom or the dining room there should be no lines drawn.
What do you think?