The other day, I had my arms wrapped around my husband, my head resting on his solid chest, feeling his hands in my hair, and I was struck suddenly by this incredible thought: I wish I were a man. I am not one to compete or compare myself with other women; I believe that we are all on divergent roads, and we land where we need to, when we need to. Competing is a waste of time. But I do compete with my husband. Who makes more money…he does, even though I have two degrees above him and have spent 25 years in school after HS. Who has the hardest day or faces the most challenges each day …I do because I have to deal with children and their sensitive and unique personalities, temper tantrums, etc. Who works harder…I do because I write books and try to get published, take care of the kids and school stuff, and I work part-time as a College Instructor. He goes to work without screaming, fighting kids in the car; he can travel without having to listen to whining or tend to the needs of his children; he has lunch breaks and dinners with co-workers; he can leave work in the middle of the day and go to movies, drive aimlessly in a quiet car until he gets his thoughts together, or go to the mall and walk around without small, screaming, and clingy appendages strapped to his hips, his heart, his waist, his body, his ears. He thinks I have it better, easier, because I am at home with the kids, and this perspective drives me crazy, makes me want to hurl sharp and metallic objects at his head. I love my husband — he’s a wonderful father to our kids, and he is supportive of me and my goals. But he is a man, he is privileged, he knows it, and he enjoys the benefits of possessing the almighty genitalia that renders him king of home and public spaces.
I have blogged about penis envy before, but in this one, I am listing reasons why I wish I were a man — a penis possessor — a privileged member of the opposite sex who is born into an established set of advantages not awarded to women. And I do so begrudgingly, satirically, my fingers pounding onto my keyboard with excess frustrations only women know and feel.
1. The Cleanup Cant: A penis and a full-time job in a patriarchal world endows men with the freedom to decline cleaning up after themselves, after others, or the house. Research shows that most couples fight over three things: money, kids, and cleaning the house. Even women with full-time jobs and PhD’s are expected to do the house-cleaning as if it is a natural inclination for us to fall upon our hands and knees scrubbing, mopping, dusting, and even doing the laundry. The penis is so high and mighty that it makes cleaning impossible for the man; after all, it is a woman’s job, falling upon her innumerable responsibilities because she just loves subjugating herself for others — willingly enslaved by the demands made upon her by her husband and kids. She wants nothing more than to take care of, nurture, and clean up after the waste and mess of those she loves. If she can’t sacrifice for them, she is not worthy of their love. So men leave their plates atop the kitchen table after they eat; they leave their urine stains all over the toilet seat for the nurturing women-folk to clean; they toss their shoes and clothing beside their beds for the wives to pick up and wash; they walk past the kitchen sink countless times in a day, not once considering cleaning them, or emptying the dishwasher and refilling it. Why? Because she will do it. After all, she enjoys it. It makes her feel useful.
2. Potty Posits: Ever wonder what they’re doing in the potty for forty minutes? With magazines and iPhones and the door locked? Have you ever tried going to the bathroom and locking the door behind you? Men go to the bathroom and disappear for thirty to forty minutes. Women go in, do their business, and get out. Men luxuriate in the business of bowel movements. I wish I could go to the bathroom and disappear for that long a period of time, reveling in the quiet and isolating haven of a small room without kids wanting, demanding, opening the door to watch, to talk, to whine, to fight, to demand food and drink, and my time. I haven’t been able to close the bathroom door in seven years, since my son was born. But men…they know this solitude several times a day. The privilege is theirs, and their time in a stall is just another moment of escape that evades us.
3. Guts and Glory: My personal pet peeve, men walk around shirtless, unabashedly exposing the voluminous and beer-swelled gut in all its glory. They drink as much as they want, they eat as much as they want, they gain a pound a week, and there is no shame, no guilt. Women still like them, still want to have sex with them, and still find them attractive. Women cannot get away with being fat, an extra five pounds forcibly dragging her back to the gym to sweat out the excess flesh her body is made to hold. We hide ourselves, turning off the lights when making love to our men lest they see the rolls of extra flesh limply lolling and bopping against them. And of course, it matters not that we gained the weight because we carried children — their children. What matters is that we are not perfect, no longer the thin embodiments of femininity we were when they first met us.
4. Ball Busters: Men love sports. They watch football on Sundays. And when football season is over, it ‘s baseball, or soccer, or basketball. It’s Golf on Fridays and Sundays, and weekend getaways. Golf, which is an acronym for Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden, is a successful man’s sport. All sports exclude women…they are played by men and for men. And please don’t spew the “well, I’m a woman and I love football/basketball/golf/baseball,” because you are few. The truth is that if you weren’t into the sports, your men would be into them anyway, and you would have to serve the food on football Sunday to his clansmen while they hooted and burped their way to climax over scores and steals and other stupid ballgame privileges endowed to men. The fact that a very small number of women appreciate these sports does not take away from the fact that they were created for men, by men, with the understanding that women were not part of the male-bonding/drinking/burping dance of balls and balls.
5. Hairy Harry: Men have hair on their backs, their legs, their private areas, their under arms, and on their faces. They’re men — manly, masculine men, and hair all over their bodies makes them acceptable to society. Women cannot have a solitary chin hair protruding from the smooth and lasered contours of her face. Her pits, her private spaces, her legs, and her mustache have to be waxed, shaved, or lasered off. She is masculine, a butch, if she has hair upon her. Her body-length skin has to be soft and smooth and hair-free, or else she is an aberration, an unwanted, a disgusting example of femininity. Of course, it wasn’t until 1915 that a campaign led by marketers and Harpers Bazaar told women that their hair was “objectionable.”It doesn’t matter that when you go to other countries, like in Italy, for example, women let the hair grow long and unhindered because it is acceptable. And why shouldn’t it? We are supposed to have hair covering our bodies to provide us with warmth. It is in our nature to be hairy, some more so than others, but it is now only acceptable for men. Men’s bodies are not under the control of society; their bodies belong to them, and they can be as natural as the air we breathe. Women’s bodies are constantly under constant definitions, restrictions, controls, and augmentations — and we are not worthy unless we subscribe to these notions of femininity — prescribed by the privileged sex, of course.
6. Passion vs. Rage: Ever get passionate about something? So passionate that you raise your voice, clench your fists, turn red in the face with the want of getting your point across? If you’re a woman and you have, it’s more than likely that you’ve been called a bitch, a psycho, a PMSing nut, instructed to take a Midol to calm you down. Because you are a woman, you are not supposed to express disdain, rancor, aggression, or rage — especially towards other men. Harriet Lerner’s ‘The Dance of Anger‘ exposes how women’s anger is discouraged, but masculine anger is rewarded. Men get angry; they yell, scream, rage, and even throw punches, but they are allowed to behave this way: they are men – privileged, passionate. We are bitches, out of control, and need psychotherapy or a chill pill. Our passions, when expressed with the privileged responses alloted to men — with anger, with vehemence, with revolt — are punished. We are punished — we are sued for divorce, broken up with, ignored, called names, and sometimes, we even have our kids taken away from us.
Of course, there are more examples I can think of, but I cannot fit the myriad of gender inequalities and discrepancies in this one post. To say that we live in an unfair world in which men are born with advantages that evade women because of their gender is obvious and unfair. But I keep hoping that one day, perhaps in time for my daughter’s rise to womanhood, some of these will change — embracing her with acceptance instead of excluding her because she lacks the things men take for granted — the penis, yes, but more so what the penis represents: freedom, privilege, and advantage.
What can you think of that I have been remiss to consider? Let me know!
Copyright© 2010 by Marina DelVecchio. All Rights Reserved.