Women everywhere are looking around them and saying “I’ve had enough. I’m done with this. I will no longer allow your patriarchy to subdue my voice and force me into second class citizenship.”
While these sentiments are sound and necessary, they can cause strife in otherwise easy-going marriages.
“Who made you lord king god of all driving?”
Randy and I agree politically. We are liberal, progressive democrats. There is no dissent between us when it comes to who we will vote for in this presidential election. We’d vote twice if we could, but apparently, that isn’t a thing.
Even though we agree who is best to lead our country, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been more than a normal share of eye rolling and spats that have revolved around this election.
I have said the word “patriarchy” more in the last six months than I have in my entire life. I have become aware of ways I acquiesce to male privilege. The fact male privilege exists is not the fault of my husband. He was born into this privilege and, while he questions his privilege, there are some areas in which he never thought to question.
For instance, who automatically drives? I will give you a hint. It’s not me.
This dawned on me a few weeks ago. Randy doesn’t ask me if he can drive. There isn’t a time when he looks at me and says “I feel like driving today, do you mind?”
If I want to drive, then I ask his permission to relinquish his rightful place in the driver’s seat. At least half the time, he will respond with “Nah, I’ll drive.”
This situation prompted the “lord king god of all driving” question.
I am not the only one asking these questions. I have been part of numerous online conversations where women ask similar questions. Here are a sampling of comments:
“How can he be dismissive of the ‘locker room’ talk? I couldn’t even look at him for two days after he dismissed the so called “locker room” talk.”
“Why is my time not as important as his time?” “I work full time, too.” “Why am I doing the lion’s share of the housework and carpooling?”
“Is my value completely tied up in being a wife and a mother?”
“For all that is holy, how can I get him to stop mansplaining me?”
“I thought he valued me more.”
These conversations are taking place in households where the adults are in complete agreement over whom they are voting. I can’t even fathom being on opposite sides; not in this election. These questions are being asked in households where the adults agree that misogyny is wrong and feminism is a good idea.
The 2016 presidential election has forced us to face, every single day, the prevalence of male privilege.
This election has shined a harsh spotlight on male privilege.
We need to look at this as a silver lining. It might be difficult to look at the ugliness under the harsh light, but we need this spotlight.
We have watched in horror as a presidential candidate openly bragged about sexual assaulting women just because he can. We have watched in horror as his words are cast aside as “locker room talk”.
We watched as a rapist, who was caught in the actual act of raping, walked away from jail after serving an unjust sentence. A sentence that was an insult to the woman he raped.
We watch women being judged by the sound of their voice, the clothes they wear, and how often they contort their faces into a smile. Men aren’t judged this way. Not to the same degree, anyway. Not even close.
I think acknowledging and processing male privilege may be easier for my husband and I than it is for younger couples. Randy and I have only adult children now. We’re tired, but we’re not “taking care of kids all day and night” tired. The kid part of life, that part where your brain always buzzes with exhaustion, makes it harder to process social change.
I don’t think I’m alone in viewing life through a different pair of eyes since having the spotlight so firmly on women’s issues. This is not a bad thing. If we don’t examine the details of our own lives and decide about necessary change, then nothing can change.
We must remember, relationships don’t need to be a constant push and pull. We women and men filter our thoughts, conversations and observations through different experiences, but these differences don’t have to be a call to battle. If we assume a marriage is loving and sound, then we must continue to draw from that well. Women are hypersensitive from being bombarded with stories and images and feel frustration that has been building for decades. This hypersensitivity is not a weakness or something for us to combat. This sensitivity is a logical outgrowth from living our entire lives being viewed as “less” than men.
Then, our husbands repeat some soundbite dismissive of women’s needs or cut us off and get their mansplain all over us. It can be difficult to quell the urge to hit them with a shovel.
Is there mutual respect in the marriage? Do we love each other? Then, we need to find a calm and reasonable way to work through these moments without committing violence with our garden tools.
Conversely, men need to grasp that some of this understanding may be new and raw for us. They need to empathize while we’re working through our feelings regarding male privilege. Men need to understand that we might display anger, frustration, or mistrust as we are inundated with example after example of their privilege.
It would be helpful if men eased off the defensiveness they display when being told of male privilege. They must remember, this is not a criticism, but instead, a statement of fact. Men are privileged over women. There is no need to be defensive over a fact. Instead, they need to reflect and do what they can to understand a point of view they had previously not considered.
Both sides need to find all the patience they can scrounge.
Recognize your love for each other and remember that you are each other’s safe place. Remember that before going out to the garage to pick up a shovel.
Only good can come from equality. Change doesn’t happen without pain. We need these changes, but we also need each other.
If you are a woman and feel more frustrated than usual with your husband, you are not alone. Many of us are working through similar issues. If you are a man and feel unloved or attacked, please remember that some of us are going through changes that are difficult to process. Also, if you are male and you are not examining your privilege with resolve to change, then you might want to start watching for that shovel.