Wednesday, November 30, 2011

'Cause I'm a WOMAN

I can wash out forty-four pairs of socks and have 'em on the line. I can starch and iron two dozen shirts ‘fore you can count from one to nine. I can slip up a great big dip up of lard from a drippings can. Throw it in the skillet, do my shopping be back before it melts in the pan. 'Cause I'm a woman W O M A N.
I'll say it again. – Peggy Lee


Do we remember this song? Or better yet the 1980’s Enjoli commercial, based on the Peggy Lee song? She does it all. She brings home the bacon, fries it up in the pan. And never, ever let’s you forget you’re a man. I feel like this image of women has made it hard to be a woman. I know it’s dated. But how dated is it really? I think that there are a lot of men who want a woman like this, and I think there are just as many women to strive to be that woman, and are very hard on themselves when they fall short. Jesus. I am no feminist. But I don’t think I was put on earth to be a man’s “helpmate” either.

Last week, after a 4-week break, I ventured back to group it felt good, but weird. (The weirdness is in my head)

The girlfriend of one of the men in my group is moving in with him. She is moving from her city to his and they are co-habitating. He seems pleased about this turn that their relationship is taking, and I’m glad for him. I think he’s a good dude and he has had his share of relationship woes. He said something that was interesting; he said that while he appreciated many things about her, one of the things he realized meant a lot to him was her prowess as a homemaker. He appreciated her desire to make things “just so.” Since I was the only woman in the room, they all looked at me. “Is that sexist”? I thought about it and said that I guessed not, but I asked the question, is that what men want? A good housekeeper? His response to me was that he didn’t know that’s what he wanted in a woman until he met her and saw that was how she was built. And since she was that way, it worked for him. He does not strike me as sexist in the least. It seems that he was pleasantly surprised to find a woman who was smart, sexy and had mastered the art of making things “just so”. Fair enough. However, on my way home I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

What do men want in women? This is old question, and there are as many answers to it as there are men. I’m just wondering. I have always gone on the premise that I should just be myself. Entre nous, that hasn’t worked out very well. I don’t know what kind of homemaker I would be. I’m lived alone and have managed to take care of myself just fine, but I mean what would I be like as a wife and mother. Would I cook? Yes I would. I love to feed people. I cook and bake from scratch. I am a sender of the Christmas baked goods. I also really like knowing what you like so that it can be here for you if you want it. Would I clean? Meh. While I like a clean house, I hate keeping house. I am, however, particular about a few things. My closets for one, I only use the felt, Joy Mangano hangers. Clothing is arranged by category; pants, shirts, skirts, dress, which are then sub organized by work/ casual. All items are hung going in the same direction. My shoes are in clear plastic boxes with a photo and label on the box. My crafting stuff is SUPER organized. I have very defined categories and everything is labeled. I have a binder marked important documents, with plastic sleeves with a label identifying each item. Eh heh. Clearly there are some things that need to have be “just so”. It looks crazy when I have it all outlined in this way.

The thing is, the hyper organization is beneath the mess. I usually have so much stuff on the floor of the bedroom that I have to sort of make a path for myself to get around. The other side of the bed usually has a pile of laundry that never gets put away. It’s not dirty, but it IS a mess. I hate a messy kitchen or bathroom, so I make the effort in those areas. But other than that not so much. Does this make me somehow less desirable as a partner? Would I be less or more desirable if didn’t cook? Like is it ok if I cook, but don’t clean? Do the two things go together? If I didn’t cook or clean but wanted to have sex all the time and watch football, would that cancel every thing else out? I don’t know. Again, I am just wondering. Let’s say you could spread out all the parts of a woman’s personality on a table and you could build a woman. What would be the standard parts? What would be options? Women could do the same thing of course. If I could build my dream man, what would have to come standard? What would be bells and whistles? This is silly of course, as we can’t build our dream partner. But sometimes I think if I knew what was desired I could figure out where I fell on the list of must haves and can’t stands.

Few years ago I read, Act Like A Lady Think Like A Man, by Steve Harvey. Have I ever said how much I can’t stand him? He and Dr. Phil are both full of all this folksy wisdom, but never seem to capture anything significant. Steve says that it’s important to make a man feel like a man. I don’t know exactly what that means. Could it mean that I should leave him to the wood chopping while I churn the butter? Does it mean that I should thank him for watching his (our) children? He says this explicitly and even provides a charming example of how is own wife did just that. Excuse me while a rant for a moment---FUCK THAT. We are a family, we should all do our share. If you think for just one second that I am going to thank you for taking care of our children you have another thing coming. However, I am not married and have no children. Hmmm. Still it bugs me. That, that might be what is asked of me. So be grateful that my husband and father of our children need to be thanked for doing his share.

There is something…miraculous about a woman who can do it all. How remarkable, what a find, what a wonder she can do it all! She can be mommy, be sexy, be smart, be accomplished and be his. I would like to believe that most men don’t want wives from Stepford. I would like to believe that the roles of men and women have changed with the times. I would like to believe that as a woman, I am not regulated to the role of nanny and maid. I’d like to believe all those things. However, here is what I do know. While we have changed, we haven’t changed THAT much.

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