I’m still disgruntled at the 1970’s notion that I should “bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan” and never let “my man” forget he’s a man.
I didn’t remember quite how disgruntled until I read Jennifer Petriglieri’s article “What I Learned About Equal Partnership By Studying Dual-Income Couples” in The Atlantic (October 13, 2019) which stirred up the ole’ memory banks.
Let me start by reflecting on what was missing from that 1970’s advertising jingle and the picture it painted (along with so many other societal messages) for us GenX girls. Missing activities like setting the table, serving the bacon, scrubbing the frying pan, helping the kiddos with homework, making the cupcakes for the school party, getting them to Little League games and music lessons, bathed and to bed on time. All so hubby could have his cuddle with wifey-poo, who — rather than being exhausted by all these activities — was titillated by them and eager to please.
Balance was clearly a foreign concept at the time.
The message was clear. We could have it all as long as we were willing to do it all. This is not just subtext. I well remember a placard hanging on my grandmother’s kitchen wall about the importance of a woman being a servant to family, a saint in the community, and a whore in bed. I paraphrase — but not by much.
My child’s sense of justice was puzzled by the notion that to be good and worthy, a woman must also be bad. In my rebellious late teens and young twenties, I reveled in the supposed freedom of it. When it came time to raise a family, I resented it. At least as much as women before me seemed to resent my pointing out that the boat was somehow missed in creating equal opportunity for both women and men.
But, it’s good to have a dream, something to fight for, right? What I hope for upcoming generations is that they can find the support and encouragement to really take the bull by the horms and live into the 50/50 marriage described by Ms. Petriglieri.
In her words, such a marriage is about more than splitting the housework equally. It is a “social revolution that starts at home, with both partners making commitments—and a plan—to challenge society’s endless pulls.”
And if that’s not worth fighing for, I don’t know what is . . .