Tuesday, 2 August 2011

You're just WHAT??

I had a chance encounter today that made me stop and question everything I thought was true in life....

I spoke to a beautiful woman whose first words were "I can't answer anything, I'm just the wife". It took me a minute to recover enough to finish what I needed to do and drive away.

I almost stopped and took issue with what she said, but that's not my place. And she would probably find me extremely rude, if not completely bonkers.

How on earth could she believe she was "just a wife" ??

How can a beautiful, intelligent woman who has an important role to play in our society believe that she was worth so little?

And believe me, that's what she meant. She followed it up by implying she was nothing, less than the farm dog.

She was seriously underestimating herself and her place in the world and when I drove away I didn't know whether to shout or cry.

I am a label hater - as WonderMan found out one night when I left him my ring and threatened to walk away after he introduced me to a friend by saying "And this is the wife". I can laugh at someone who calls me the "c word" but call me "the wife" or "woman" and I start to consider ancient and illegal forms of torture.

I don't believe a wife is a nobody. Marriage is a partnership. Both people have an important role to play and it is up to each of them to work out what that role is. Being a mother is the biggest sacrifice and challenge you could ever be faced with. So why are these terms STILL being used in such a chauvanistic way? And by the women themselves, not the husband or family?

Let me tell you something, I have not done the daily dishes in my household for over a year. I might do the odd sinkfull when I've been baking or when we have had people over during the day. But I don't wash the daily dinner dishes ever. That's WonderMan's job and he does it better than me. I cook beautiful food, I bake so my family have lunches for school and work, I wash clothes, I iron, I change stinky nappies, I scrub the shower. But show me a dish towel and I'll look at you blankly. It's part of how we share the load, because we realise bringing up a family and running a partnership is a big task, that can't easily be shouldered by one person.

WonderMan has always seen me as a person, not a wife or mother. He respects my body, my mind, my place in our family, my opinions (even when they are stupid). And I do the same for him. He supports me without question, he takes on my responsibilities when I am overcommited and can't manage it all. I do the same for him. We are a partnership, we are equal.

We recently were reminded how strange our situation is after catching up with an old friend and his girlfriend the other day.

I gasped aloud when his friend took us on a tour of the house, and as he opened the door to the kitchen said "That's the woman's area".

Even WonderMan was offended. He spent the next few hours dropping hints about being a WonderMan, as opposed to a bastard husband.

It was so degrading a comment that I almost packed up the family and walked away, and even though it was said with a grin and a joking tone, it made me cranky as hell. And do you know what? She laughed. She agreed with him, and as far as I could see was not bothered by this comment at all. I was horrified!

How can we say one person is less than another?

What I see around me are women killing their own fight for equality. Now, I'm not going to rush out and burn my bra because that's stupid and besides, these babies are so small no one would even notice.

Maybe I am different to the world around me. My grandmother insisted that all of her girls have a qualification. She made it quite clear that she did not expect them to be married off and out of her hands asap. She knew the value her daughters could contribute to this world, she herself has contributed so much.

My mother always taught me that I had value, that I had much to give and should not bow to anyone's idea of a girl's place in society. She taught me to walk with my head held high and be proud of who I am and what I have achieved. I teach my girls the same.

Am I the only one?

Tonight I want to send a message to every woman in the world...

You are beautiful, you are special, you contribute in so many ways to the lives of everyone around you. Your opinion matters, your voice deserves to be heard.

Please, PLEASE, don't sell yourself short.

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