Just a girl

I try to keep an open mind when it comes to differences between the sexes. Fanatical, blind feminism, to me, can be just as eye-roll-inducing and prejudiced as blatant misogyny. So I try to play fair.

I dislike “Women Only Comedy Shows,” because I find it patronizing to set us apart just so we can shine without being compared against the REAL comedians, like the Special Olympics or something. I refuse to use the term “comedienne” until ALL jobs get gender-signifiers, and I don’t think doctoresses or lawyerinas would take kindly to it.

On the flip side, I will admit that female comedians as a whole are generally less funny than the male comedic population, and whether that’s just due to the low number of women who attempt it, I can’t say. But it’s not like TV writers where bros only hire a writers’ room of their buddies. Women have every chance to get up at unpaid, unhired Open Mic Nights. There are just less of them, for whatever reason I don’t understand. Maybe guys paid too much attention to them when they were young, and they didn’t need to develop a personality. Who’s to say? (Me.)

In gaming, I recognize and accept the fact that I don’t like and am no good at First-Person Shooter games because women tend to have poorer spatial recognition skills, and I always get lost on maps that others can more easily navigate. Not all women are like this, but I sure am.

On the other hand, I flip out and boycott perfectly good video games with sexist commercials that imply girls don’t know the difference between a movie and a game.

I attend Book Clubs and Craft Night, which are largely female, although guys are certainly welcome. I like chatting with the girls over wine and cheese, but I like to think it’s because they’re my friends, not because we’re all talking about our Lady Times. On the non Grrl Power side, I don’t mind the occasional chivalrous gesture from a guy offering held-open doors or heavy boxes carried for me. But if the guy doesn’t offer, whatevs.

I say all that to say that the following two news stories really stuck in my craw.

Carol Bartz was recently in the news for her sudden removal from her position with Yahoo! as its CEO. I read the article, and my knee-jerk reaction was a) that she happened to use very colorful language, b) her demeanor was humorous (to me, because overly sassy people make me giggle), and c) she seemed a little, you know, nutty.

But it wasn’t until I read this article that I realized some people were shocked at her swearing and “ball-busting” demeanor because she’s a woman. Now, the article goes on to half-heartedly advocate the plight of women in the workplace — acting womanly is weak, while acting manly is aggressive, and it’s “unfair.” But I can’t help thinking that it wasn’t even her sex that crossed my mind when I read about her quirky demeanor and “salty language.”

I ask myself if there would even be an article if the boss were male. I mean, maybe. But it wouldn’t be, like, “Swearing sociopath terrifies company, which totally makes sense, because he’s a guy, am I right?” Nor would the headline read, “Swearing sociopath terrifies company, which is totally unlike men, gosh, I’ve never even heard of anything like that, who is this guy, is he an alien?”

That’s my point. This article and, more-subtly-so, the one before it read “Eccentric CEO swears, which is really weird/unique/atypical because she’s a woman,” when it should be “Eccentric CEO swears, which is really weird/unique/atypical because managers maybe shouldn’t do that in the workplace, so stop it, you’re making everyone uncomfortable regardless of if you’re a woman, man, transgendered, cat, or automaton built to manage corporations.”

The second article was what I thought would be an interesting read on The Atlantic: What People Don’t Get About My Job, from A to Z.

I read the first few with interest, but I couldn’t make it past D — “Being a stay-at-home Dad is like unemployment.” (First off, that starts with S!)

A bit of backstory. I don’t have to tell any of you that have a modicum of awareness that being a stay-at-home MOM is nothing to sniff at. You’re a personal shopper, finance manager, top chef, interior decorator, scheduler, tutor, motivational speaker — sure, sometime housekeeper, chauffer, and laundromat.

My college Feminism professor first introduced me to the concept of a stay-at-home dad — or in her case, a “house husband,” since they had no children. My initial reaction, I’m embarrassed to say, was the same as what some have. He’s lazy. Why not just work, too, and make double income? What does he DO all day? When the answer was obvious: everything in the above paragraph, just the same. Forgive me, though; I was a college freshman. I hope the editors at The Atlantic are a little more educated than I was at 18.

The lessons I learned in that class were invaluable, such as the fact that Affirmative Action exists only so someday it won’t have to exist — a definition that makes so much sense but isn’t often touched on. But, for instance, the requirement for Television Writers to have one woman on their writing staff is supposed to show them that women have just as much talent writing. When the negative aspects surface — a woman being hired who is not a creative equal to her male counterparts — it’s not Affirmative Action. It’s lazy hiring. It’s a boys’ club rolling their eyes at a rule forced upon them and hiring whatever they feel like hiring, as long as they can get back to their club.

To get back to the point, whoever was asked to be the “Stay-At-Home” Dad for this A-to-Z cross-section of American jobs is so offensive, I can’t believe it was even published.

Now, there are a couple things this could mean:
Being a stay-at-home dad is so rewarding, it doesn’t feel like a job.
I don’t buy it, if only for the job requirements I listed above. If he’s insinuating that all of those things are easy to accomplish every single day, then I just don’t believe him. If he’s a superdad, capable of being everything for everyone every day, why not say “Being a stay-at-home dad is like a dream come true”?

Being a stay-at-home dad is so difficult, I’m constantly hoping for an occupational escape to save me someday.
Mm, a little whiny, but okay. But I’m assuming if you’re a stay-at-home dad, there’s a non-stay-at-home mom, unless you guys are just homeless. And if there’s a working mom, who is gonna take care of the kids? Not that there is anything wrong with both parents having a career, but “stay-at-home” implies a choice. Otherwise, it would be called “Exiled-at-home” or something equally melodramatic.

Being a stay-at-home dad is so emasculating, it makes me feel worthless.
I have been unemployed. You only need to jump to the U’s in the article to read how awful it is to be unemployed for one girl, and it’s not an atypical sentiment. The number of jobs I applied for after returning from Japan was in the hundreds. The interviews I got were in the less-than-tens, and the follow-ups that I was actually not hired and should indeed keep looking were in the less-than-twos.

It sucks waking up every day knowing you have a big day of failure ahead. Buying food you can’t pay for. Watching a 30-minute TV show to break up the stress of an 8-hour day spent searching, only to feel guilty the whole time that you could be using THESE 30 minutes to search some more. Learning everything you possibly can about a company to ace an interview, changing your resume in a unique way to fit every job imaginable, only to fail, rinse, and repeat the very next day.

But that is not being a dad. That is not being a parent. And if you insinuate that, you’re insulting every other woman and man who CHOOSE this as an option and PREFER this method of child-raising, rather than being forced into it kicking and screaming.

Now, watch this video of the song “Just a Housewife” from the musical “Working,” and if the lyrics don’t make you think about all it means to choose that as a job, I hope someone kicks you in the crotch REALLY hard. (The evil “you” from above. Not you. You’re nice.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *