A man’s day off is his day off. A woman’s day off is time to catch up with the housework.
That quote flew past me the other day on Facebook. I can always tell what material I’m getting from Facebook and what’s from Twitter – Twitter gives me good solid reality-based journalism to work from, Facebook gives me shirt snappy stupid quotes. I thought that Twitter was for short and snappy, but people there know the joys of the link. Anyway. I digress.
This kind of junk gets fancy titles like hetero-normative gender essentialism. It has a basis in historic reality, it is true, but it reinforces gender roles in a way that should just not be happening. It should be held up as the bullshit it is, emblematic of outdated thinking and only brought up to laugh at or learn from. Instead, it’s paraded out with a knowing ‘right, ladies’ and a wink. It’s embarrassing.
I like to live in my little progressive Twitter bubble, where stuff like this is frowned upon and looked down on. But stepping out into a more real-world Facebook, with a more diverse group of people, it reminds me that we still live in the era of cave-men in some ways.
This has been a rambling way of saying that men do not exist to do man-things, and women do not exist to do chores. People of all genders relax and do chores in varying measures, and those measures should not be expected to be defined by old-fashioned gender constructs.
I see them quite often, images saying things like ‘Post if your dad is hardworking and has helped and supported you no matter what’ or ‘Share this if your mom is your best friend, and your biggest supporter’. They’re kinda sweet really, posted by people who are inordinately proud of their parents.
What about the rest of us? Whose parents aren’t superheroes, who have very human flaws, ones that can’t be papered over with a smile? The reminder of what we lack can be painful.
My mum is pretty awesome, she’s always in my corner. We get along well, and she’s always there for me. She’s cool.
My dad is another matter. He’s a good man, hardworking and caring and lovely. But he’s not a strong man, and he’s in a relationship with a very strong woman (and I don’t mean that in a good way). The result of that is that my father is not here for me. He hasn’t been allowed to be since he married my stepmother. His pliant personality is submerged below her hard and cruel one. He’s not in my corner, not on my side, and very nearly not in my life. I hate that. I want him to have time with his grandkids, to sit with him and chat and catch up on life. That’s taken away from me, partly by my stepmother, but also by his inability to assert himself. It makes me sad.
My father is precious to me. I love him so much. But I can’t have his company. It breaks my heart. He’s not everything I want him to be – not even close.
What would be ‘everything I want him to be’? I’m not demanding. I just want him to be there for me. Is that too much? Maybe it is.
So every time I see one of these images float past, I have a catch in my throat. I want my father to be all that.