Is it possible to be a feminist and still do the laundry?
I become a ‘wife’ next year and whilst this is something that is of huge excitement for me, it also bears some rather strange thoughts. My partner will make a wonderful husband; he is practically that already, but what makes a good wife?
Previous generations of strong-willed women in my family would have stipulated this as having a good meal on the table and clean clothes on his back. Yet, the strong-willed generation of women I am part of suggest the opposite of this. No successful, intelligent woman should spend her precious days tending to the needs of a man! We have our own lives, own jobs and our own needs that must come above all others. So, is it possible to combine the two? Would they even go hand in hand? Could it actually be possible to be a feminist housewife hybrid in today’s society?
The feminism debate surrounds us daily and quite rightly too as there are, even in today’s world, huge barriers to overcome to close the equality gap that currently stands. Being a feminist brings empowerment and pride amongst women but seemingly tarnishes you as a man-hating hooligan with no intelligent reasoning to back your argument. This in itself is another reason for its importance. If I’m strong willed in a business meeting, I’m a bossy bitch. If I’m tired or short tempered, I’m a hormonal cow. If my male peers show these characteristics; they are just having ‘one of those days’. And for these reasons, I consider myself to be a feminist. I am proud to be woman and proud to be hard working, have my own business, be entrepreneurial, creative and adventurous, but the fact that I don’t feel confident or comfortable enough to actively tell people I’m a feminist very often may be another example of the issues that surrounds equality.
I want to promote it. I want to inspire others. I want to engage others, male or female, in the importance of having equal opportunities for us all and I want to make a nice meal for my husband when he comes home. This is where I falter.
Is that possible? Is it achievable to strive for equality but also take pride in providing a delicious dinner for my family or having my husband’s favourite shirt ironed ready for our date night out? When telling female friends that I have often made my partner a packed lunch for his day at work, it is met with a laugh, a shake of the head and a chorus of “get him to make his own!”. What if I don’t want to?
What if I want to actually do the nice thing and help make his stressful, tiring day that bit easier by having his lunch ready? What if I want to surprise him with his favourite food when he gets home? What if I actually want to iron his shirt because I know he hates it? I know he doesn’t expect me to do any of these things and given the time, he would do the same for me, which is another reason I actually want to. Having the freedom to do the right thing, the best thing and whatever I like to make him smile is just another reason I love to. Just because these actions historically represent the chores of a tired old housewife, they don’t demolish my morals as a feminist. Do they?
However, if I pride myself on being a feminist, it is my choices and the fact that I am able to make choices that affirms my power as an independent female. The actions, specifically, are irrelevant, whether that’s making cupcakes for our Sunday picnic or checking the tyre pressures on the car. The choice itself is the key.
I have no idea if this will make me a good wife. I still don’t know if I’m a phony feminist by doing these things, but if I achieve a long, happy, healthy marriage whilst maintaining my strong, independent character, I shall treat it as success.