I'll admit, I appreciate the simplicity
Jessica, you've touched upon some compelling points here, highlighting the systemic issues at hand. It's frustrating how often we see the symptoms addressed rather than the root cause. However, when it comes to changing the narrative, it's not just about making strides in societal norms, but also embracing our own personal evolutions. On that note, I chanced upon an intriguing tool, LoveBoost-AI (http://dating.tiktak-studio.com). It might sound offbeat, but the whole concept of using AI to enhance our personal images... it's oddly empowering, isn't it? A subtle nudge to see ourselves from a fresh perspective, a possible aid in taking the first step towards the individual journey of change. Not a solution, but perhaps a starting point. A nugget for thought, maybe?
Whether divorce is an individual solution or not, it's a solution women should consider. I've been single most of my adult life, and I'm happier. I've realized I'm happier when not in a dating relationship too. I woke up a few years ago, after dating or being married steadily throughout my life, and stopped dating, stopped looking for my next relationship. After all, it's a time suck, and now I'm just living my life. I suspect others would be happier too. Friends have enriched my life more than romantic relationships, so I'm focusing on those. I don't have an interest in anyone who doesn't have empathy, and many guys tend not to. There are some amazing sex toys - some AI driven - available too; another person is not needed.
Women keep forgetting (or don’t realize) that men need sex and women don’t. It is that simple although men have done everything in there power to make us think we need it as much as they do.
Have you see Annie Murphy in "Kevin Can Go Fuck Himself"? I haven't seen it yet... but looks like it might be relevant here.
My ex's unwillingness to consider me an equal partner was a huge contributor to our divorce. He was shocked post-divorce that he needed to arrange transportation, playdates, appointments while he had custody of the kids. He literally didn't believe this was his responsibilty until our parenting consultant told him that if he wanted to keep custody, he needed to do this. Not surprisingly, he immediately remarried. His new wife now handles all of this stuff, and makes ridiculous excuses for why he can't handle it.
I read somewhere a snippet shared between moms; husbands who say 'how can I help?' it infers they are there just as help, as a support - not as equals. I'm not a mother, but I am a caregiver, and an excellent multi-tasker around the house. It's difficult to imagine my partner (a man) taking care of everything so that I might say 'whats for dinner' or, basking in the glow of comfortable tidy home, look up from my reading and ask 'how can I help?'
TLDR: daughter may have solved the issue by not knowing how to be a caretaker/ homemaker.
I was raised by a feminist mom in the '60s and my dad was pretty feminist also- female oldest favorite child and not supplanted when my brother came along. We were also slobs and raised with no housecleaning to speak of (my mom's mom never demanded she do nor taught her chores: childhood polio and spoon feeding amino acid broth and fearing for her life- while her aunts thought she was coddled and spoiled). Seeing my place freaked out my future husband "until I saw your mother's apartment". I have two daughters. One is partnered so far, and aside from raising her as I was raised (and in the US South so she is really different from her peers!), she has not LEARNED to do everything so many women do. It's almost a shame because when I had her do a task I hadn't taught her how, not knowing so well myself, and she is like me very slow at them. Sort of like me deciding to never learn typing back in the '70s- I sometimes regret it in the computer age (but never that I was never in 'the typing pool'). Her home is neat enough for me, she seems to direct her partner to do tasks so there may still be that she runs it but at least he does good part of the labor, unclear in my few visits if it seems fair/ shared TO ME. In fact my Baby boomer fear despite my feminism is that she might not be sweet enough (I have vowed to bite my tongue before telling her so though!!) and the partner might rebel.
Im about the same age as Jessica.....I honestly don't know one woman around my age who doesn't want to get married or isn't already married.
I like the intro to the book ‘Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker Phd. ‘Believe it or not the most important factor for girls growing up into confident well adjusted women is a strong father with conservative values. To have one is the best protection against eating disorders, failure in school, std’s, unwed pregnancy or drug and alcohol abuse. And the best predictor of academic achievement, successful marriage and a satisfying emotional life.’This is all backed by data and clinical experience by the way. I believe this is also true in the case of boys. While there is no doubt that men could do more at home, I have come to the conclusion through research, study and personal experience as a stay at home dad- who works from home, that my best use is as a father who is present for the main purpose of raising strong children. And while I’m happy to do my laundry and make meals etc it is by no means the best use of my time at home. Raising strong kids requires less time than house work, ie encouragement and the instilling of certain values etc (not to over simplify that role). Rather that demand for what you are calling ‘equal’, women should come to understand the best use men can have, help channel their energies in that direction and focus on having a happy, successful family rather than a ‘clean home’. Clean the house, let him take them out for icecream and be present with them. They’ll gain way more doing that than seeing him wipe the dinner table.
I remember sitting in the therapist's office with my ex, listening to him talk, and realizing that all of my rosy hopes for improvement were fantasies not based on the relationship I was in. I'd been hanging in hoping that working on communicating my needs would make my well being important, when he just wanted me to shut up and keep pretending what he did was enough. I don't know how common it is, but he felt like a black hole of need that could never be filled, and when I couldn't do any more (3 kids!) he cut back the very little effort he was putting in.
We can raise this change, but our kids need to see men do the dishes and laundry. Reproductive labor is everything it takes to maintain the household, and if anyone blows it off, they are putting on someone else.
100% and having an extensive back catalogue of songs about "you are so difficult" (very often with a you=she context and almost always a straight male singer) for guys to passive aggressively play when you ask for more help is not helping. Thanks Roger Waters.
Provocative piece; thanks for writing. I definitely know heterosexual couples where I think separation is the only viable strategy. And: my experience doing this work with other men is that they (we) are desperate to build the competencies we were deliberately socialized not to cultivate... Including by the well-intentioned women in our lives (this Indian #ShareTheLoad campaign makes the point beautifully: https://youtu.be/8QDlv8kfwIM)
I'm actually much more hopeful. I think increasing numbers of men are willing to do the work, and looking for tools. Increasingly those tools exist. My own sense of these trends here, if of interest:
I can't stop thinking about this piece! I have so many thoughts. Mostly that I would love a think piece where men would have to answer for themselves. I think changing how we tell this story is a pretty brilliant idea!
This has to start with our sons. I have a feminist 31 year old and a husband who doesn't get it. But both of us worked equally hard and had to share the work when my son was little. He learned how to do his laundry at 10.
Beautifully written with so many excellent points. (Makes me doubly glad to be marrying a woman next year 😄)