I proudly display “Feminism” as my Political Views on Facebook both because I am a staunch feminist and because feminism gets a bad rap. I assume that people who look at my Facebook usually have positive regard for me, and I display my political affiliation hoping that once they realize they know and like a feminist, they might eventually come around to realizing they like feminism, as well.
Anyway, this weekend is the perfect illustration of why feminism is absolutely necessary.
I love my boyfriend; really, I do. We have lived together for over a year, and it’s generally a pleasant experience. Politically speaking, he happens to have been raised by two fairly liberal professors, his mother self-identifies as feminist, and I assume his father probably does, as well.
Despite the fact that said boyfriend probably has good intentions, there are gaping gender work disparities in our partnership.
Yesterday, I woke up; made both of us eggs benedict (sans hollandaise, thank God, although I suppose that’s technically not eggs benedict); went to work for three hours; drove home to pick up his laundry (I’d done mine on Friday); drove to visit my mom at the hospital and stayed there for a little over an hour; drove to her house to do his laundry; took my dog on a two-mile walk; attempted, and failed, to finish said laundry; picked up the boyfriend at BART; went out to dinner; dragged him to the hospital to visit my mom. Yesterday, he walked to Temescal to watch football, walked back home and checked his email, walked to his friend’s house (halfway between here and BART); then took BART to meet me in Lafayette.
Today, I woke up; did not eat breakfast — it’s for losers; went to work; went to the hospital; dealt with getting her released; drove her around to pharmacies, grocery stores, etc., and then home; continued my laundry; drove home; did the dishes I didn’t finish on Friday, due to a lack of drying space; found more stinky Brooks Brothers shirts; gathered the clean clothes he’d dumped all over the floor, and hung them up in the closet; and eventually will go pick him up from BART. Today, he went to the City to watch football, and is still there.
I describe my weekend not to claim your pity — save it for your mom, or your sister, or your girlfriend, or yourself. Instead, I want to illustrate that, despite the facts that:
a) my boyfriend is fairly feminist, and I don’t think he even balks at the label;
b) my salary is twice my boyfriend’s;
c) my “official,” career work week is three times the size of my boyfriend’s; and
d) I am recently 23 years old,
there is still a ridiculous work disparity at play here.
Now, strict economists would argue that I have a deliberate choice in all of this: I could CHOOSE to live in a sty, and put up with stinky clothes, and an unsanitary kitchen, and a disgusting carpet; I could choose to find a better-paying job; I could choose to work fewer hours; I could choose a different boyfriend.
However, this argument ignores the situation’s realities: all of that is highly undesirable, to both my partner and me. Again, you could argue that all this is my choice — and, of course, literally, it is; that said, life just doesn’t work that way.
Feminism is necessary because my boyfriend, no matter how accidentally, does not feel compelled to take care of our home, and because I am compelled. Feminism is necessary because we don’t value domestic, private, unseen work as we do paid, public work, despite the fact that both types are absolutely expected in our society. Feminism is necessary.