Living The Dream (With A Man)

Some men have perceived the feminist movement as a great injustice to their rights to be served dinner, have the house vacuumed more than once every two weeks and their feet rubbed frequently (among other things). 
It is no secret that women’s financial independence and access to financial power has redefined the American family and how it functions. The feminist movement is credited for opened doors for women to reach their fullest potentional. This process has been blamed for the “breakdown” of the traditional family. However, this popular complaint lacks a certain degree of perspective.
I liken the disruption to the traditional male/female roles in society and family to one big “growing pang”. Wars do far more damage with less benefits to society than the feminist movement. Countries that limit feminine influence to “inside the home only” tend to look a lot like North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc. (i.e. the worst countries in the world).
Feminism has produced an interesting male/female dynamic. While women take on life in a world with “equal opportunities”,we are struggling to ligitimize the myth that women and men “are equal”. 
That’s right, men and women will never “be equal”. 
The term “equal in rights, dignity and opportunities” has evolved into the presumption that if women and men do the same things, they will automatically carry the same emotions, characteristics, physical abilities, desires and sexual interests. 
The goal for “being equal” has created wide-ranging opportunities for all but failed to make social and economic accomodations for gender differences that will be with us for all time.
With so much focus on attaining the rights previously enjoyed by men, we seem to be convinced that we should leave our womanhood and motherhood at the door of our houses. The strengths of both the feminine and masculine — regardless of gender assignments — are rarely exploited in the society at large but are highly complimentary.

There is greatness within our differences. But we have to be willing to accept that we are different.
At the most basic level, nature seems to have designed men and women to serve important roles in the continuity of life. In the freest of societies, we do not limit one’s roles based on gender assignments. Women may choose not to become mothers, some may choose live as men. A man may adopt a baby, or enjoy the lifetime partnership of another male. As such, we all have a choice as to whether or not we will participate in that continuity of life. The ability to make these choices as an individual is an important part of the feminist movement.
The fact is, most women and men still choose to participate in that process.  
For all of feminism’s advancements, there lacks an important consideration about a woman’s life. Women are finding themselves financially and socially under-prepared for the transition from woman to mother. Pregnancy and early child-rearing are still decidedly “woman’s work”. After eons, motherhood still bears little commercial value and will never be on a man’s to-do list anytime soon.
It was the experience of having a child that taught me, no matter how closely my opportunities were equal to a man’s, a man could never be equal to me in this way, as a woman.
Allow me to explain my position further.
For a woman to be equal to a man, a man must want to be her equal. As many women with loving, caring husband’s can probably attest, men generally have little-to-no desire to “be” our equals, to bear our children, to nurse them, to clip their nails, to seriously sacrifice their hobby time, etc.
Even the best, most involved, eager man yields to his partner when there is a new baby on the scene. A mother stands with her new baby in the one place on earth moms hold limitless power. Personally, it felt nice. I found myself wishing that I could carry the same feeling out into the world with me.
Oh, who am I kidding?  Clearly I still do. I write this blog after all!  :)
It was after I had my child that I realized how mothers become dependent on others for assistance. They need a good partner/people, good food, shelter, safety. In spite of all that I had as an independent woman, as a mother I still needed the basics and I needed help. In this time, my long-time “latin lover” and husband-to-be (baby first these days, you know) proved to be, as always, reliable, supportive and full of integrity.
It was actually very sexy.
The best compliment I ever get from my husband, is not “your ass looks great” or “your hair looks pretty” — but I love when he says those things, too.
It’s: “Thank you for giving me my son”.
That makes me feel amazing! All of it — all wrapped up in male appreciation for the female me. I own it and I love it! 
I have the support of a great husband who believes very deeply in the importance of a woman’s financial independence and self-determination, especially when she has to care for a child.
But not every man sees this value in women, much less “just-a-moms” like me.
While we have the freedom to choose to be a partner, wife or mother we are still navigating a complicated world that is not of our design. While the greediest of men continue to plot the framework of war and famine, women and mothers take on the brunt of twarting the worst motives in human nature — most of which are masterminded by the male persuasion.
Until a majority of men prove to be protective of all women, women’s defensive postures, the uncomfortable gender tension and women’s disdain of living within strict traditional female roles will likely continue. 
Ever self-protective and wary of male intention, years went by before I learned to appreciate a man for his good qualities. I was in constant competition on the professional side and  insecure on the emotional side. I used to worry endlessly about a man’s sexual faithfulness.
Now with the full faith and confidence I know as I share my life with a good man, I could care less.
These days some women’s conversations delving into a man’s sexuality — even masterbation — border on the edge of threatening castration. Click here for an example of one woman’s disdain for the new Sports Illustrated 3-D version.
It took awhile but I have matured to the point that I realize men and women may want different things in that area. A man’s interest in the female form will never go away. It is how we women can influence our society’s views of sexuality, feminine appeal, smarts, beauty or health that will determine how women are viewed in the future.
In spite of women’s greatest efforts, I sometimes wonder how effective we are in controlling a man’s sexual urges and interest in fidelity. If the media is any mark of interest, men are still very drawn to beautiful women. I find myself wondering how we may be can make that fact work in a all women’s favor.
What are we to make now of the new American family in it’s various forms? Dare I say that families in America may be stronger and better than ever? Personally, I have started to see many of my peers choosing to get married or remain in long-term partnerships.  
Families are increasingly built by partners who choose to be together instead of forced to live along strict social and religious dictates. I foresee this as a positive thing in the long-term. Families that are bonded by empowered and caring partners, protectors and mutual advocates seems like a decent foundation on which to build an enlightened nation.
And when a man choses to nurture his wife’s desire for self-determination, she may in turn chose to admit a degree of satisfaction in nurturing her family and happiness in the home. She may even choose to serve dinner, vacuum more once every two weeks and rub her husband’s feet frequently (among other things).

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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