Tuesday, March 08, 2011

International Women's Day

Last year, I posted about International Women's Day here. I wanted to post again today, but I haven't been feeling well and this post got delayed. (I didn't sleep much last night and am very out of breath lately from these twin fetuses squishing my lungs.) Then, I saw the Yarn Harlot's outstanding post and it spurred me on. I didn't have to cover that ground--cause Stephanie Pearl-McPhee did that part already. Well done...but I didn't want to miss my chance. So, I hauled myself back up to the third floor to post this.

I was reflecting on something important with the professor yesterday, and it fits here. The thing is, I was raised by a working mother who embodied a lot of the ideas of how feminism works. She was raised by a mom who worked, and a grandmother who worked...all strong women -- but there were two true feminists in my parents' household. My dad is a feminist, too. He took over a lot of childcare, cleaning, and other things when my mother couldn't do it all, and in the middle of the night, well, they were both there, taking turns, when one of us got sick.

I'm reading a lot of "this is how you give birth/care for a baby/care for twins" guides right now. I feel so lucky that I don't have to live in the households described in of some of these books. The world described there is one where mothers might have to "convince" fathers to help. That isn't how my parents did it, and it's not how we do it either. How do I know? Well, first, I worked hard to choose a person who would try to be an equal participant in my household. I was lucky to find one.

As my belly gets bigger and bigger, I have a hard time doing basic stuff in the house that I used to do or chores we used to share. That's ok, because the professor is doing it. Things like ALL the laundry, changing the bedding, walking the dogs, cooking a lot of the meals, all the grocery shopping...all of that and more. He also goes with me to all the doctor's appointments, and that is a huge support.

This past weekend, besides all the grocery shopping and laundry, he put in bannisters. A lot of bannisters. We have an old house, and matching up the bannisters or trying to make them fit properly was sort of difficult. Some of the details aren't perfect because the house is quirky, but the professor put up bannisters for 3 separate staircases this past weekend. Basement to first floor, first floor to second, and second to third floor. He knows I want to keep climbing these darn steps (dang it!) and now I can use my hands to haul myself up if necessary.

Many things in our society are still unequal. For instance, this week, I've been dealing with roofing estimates. (Fixing the roof will ultimately solve our ice dam/"raining inside" problems.) The amount it will cost to fix our roof? It's a lot. The cheapest estimate was $20,000. The most expensive ballpark figures are ridiculous--2 to 3 times that amount. Why is it ridiculous? Well, if I've never earned it in a year ($40,000?) in a "traditionally female" full-time profession like teaching? It seems ridiculous for me to even consider those figures, especially if only men quote them to me. One of them, I might add, had a bombastic macho confidence that leaves me somewhat speechless...won't be hiring him! Women's status in terms of income/health/well-being are so far behind men's status in most countries that it is still hard to imagine what it will look like when we're equal.

I keep hoping for change, and on a daily basis, the professor and I work on it together. My parents work on it, as do my brothers and their wives. I am often inspired by the men (and the women who raised them) who seek change and who make change in their daily lives. They work hard to break down stereotypes, and I want to support that. It goes without saying that I am incredibly inspired by the women who often fight on the front lines for equality on this front.

I know, too, that all these assumptions about nurturing being a "female" thing are just that. Assumptions. Harry (posing in a favorite position here) is a born nurturer...and he's not even a human male. He follows me around, kissing me, sleeping near me, and being absolutely sure I am safe while pregnant. He walks with me up and down every staircase. Sally helps too, of course, but lately, Harry is taking more of the on duty shifts.

I guess what I'm trying to say today is this:
I don't think being pregnant or giving birth or nurturing defines me as a woman. Not at all. That said, now that I am pregnant, it is even more clear to me how imperative it is that not just women are feminists. Men need to nurture women (and each other) as we all demand, support, and work towards creating equality. It's hard to do this stuff alone--and women don't have to. There are men out there who also can help make this world a better place. Sadly, not all men are working on this, but they could be.

In the meanwhile, we just have to start getting everyone else to step up to the plate and do their share. That's the kind of environment I dream of for my future offspring.

(I'm also thinking of how yarn might be used as insulation and roofing...cause I do have a lot of that, and it certainly doesn't cost $40,000. I'm also thinking babies, whether they are female or male, need a roof and a way to avoid getting rained on inside...can one spin/knit or weave a roof?!)
Here's to hoping that in a few years, this kind of post will seem hopelessly old-fashioned..like when women couldn't legally vote or drive. I can't wait.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Jame said...

Well said. Thank you for saying it.

March 8, 2011 at 8:17 PM  
Blogger adriene said...

I have a husband who does all the laundry and vaccuums and helps to clean the house. And, not only that, he also expects me to help him, too. I say that's true equality: not just wanting the guys to help you, but to help them out, too.

I remember seeing an article about how wool was being used in someone's house as insulation, made mothproof by lavender... so, it's possible! But maybe it's nicer to keep it for spinning...

March 8, 2011 at 9:16 PM  
Blogger Freyalyn said...

Thoughtful and lovely article. Thank you for sharing.

March 9, 2011 at 4:11 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

My hat is off to your good Professor and brothers and the parents who raised you all. Your children are going to be very fortunate.

By the way, in my experience, when a contractor doesn't want a job--well, I had a furnace that needed to be replaced and some ductwork needing doing. One guy quoted me 65 screaming thousand dollars. Another contractor, when I told him that, burst out laughing on the spot--and I hired him.

--AlisonH at spindyeknit.com

March 10, 2011 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Nice.

Not only was I raised by working parents and raised my son the same way but my son and his wife both work and both share the chores and joys of the home and child.

Now I'm having a health prob and M is right there doing the necessary stuff. Without being reminded or asked.

And Alison's comment is right on the money (as a former construction worker). Sometimes the high bid is to avoid the job.

March 14, 2011 at 9:15 AM  

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