Recently this article showed up in my snail mailbox. I read it and then got fed up with it. The problems of privileged women are just not very compelling to me, perhaps because most women, as one commenter put it, “have to make do” with what we have. In an article that overflows with the dilemma of choice, it is important to remember that most of us do not have unlimited choice, because most of us are not wealthy enough to fund all those choices.
But there was one part that I thought was applicable to all woman. Even the ones who don’t date men:
Both genders need to be more forthright in discussing the obstacles that women face. All too often, women are scared of raising the topic of gender with men, thinking it will brand them as radicals or troublemakers, while men are terrified of saying or doing anything that might classify them as politically incorrect. The result is that no one says anything productive at all.
Pardon the self-congratulations, but this is exactly what I did with Paul when we started dating. We have an on-going conversation about what we want in life, as individuals and as a couple. I think the gender discussion has given us both permission to reach for a higher level of honesty. Rather than assume, we ask. I delight in our gender role non-conformity. Paul wants to be a stay-at-home dad some day. I’m okay with being the primary wage-earner because I enjoy my work so much. Paul is an emotionally expressive feminist man. I am a feminist in part because I want men to be free to show their feelings without fear of patriarchal judgment from anyone.
When we start to worry about saying something that’s not politically correct, I think we set that worry aside so that we can communicate an idea. Maybe it’s a half-baked idea, maybe it is offensive or politically incorrect. But within the context of an intimate relationship, I think it’s more important to keep the lines of communication open than to be perfectly articulate all the time. That strategy works for us. It works because we trust each other and because we don’t expect flawless behavior.
Which brings me back to the most important point: I am grateful that our discussions about feminism let me dispel any myths about my own superwoman status. Superwoman I am not, nor do I ever plan to be. I don’t want to do it all. I want to do enough to build a happy, fulfilling life. What exactly that means is something I am still figuring out.
We are figuring it out.