Following a comment on my column on Ownership by fellow blogger Rachel Cotterill, I have been thinking about taking things personally and was amused this week to find a compliment where an insult was intended. For a long time I have aspired to qualifying those that pass judgement on me as it seems daft to take to heart those I don’t respect the opinion of. As such, while my supervisor, my boss and my family can cut me down in an instant, I found myself delighted at someone who slated my column this week. You see, I’ve never had a critic before and it was good to read something in a dispassionate way. Unfortunately this individual limited his feedback to ‘truly awful’ so it wasn’t very constructive, although it did see my readership soar to this sites busiest Wednesday.

One area where you could perhaps be forgiven for taking things personally is in reading the Daily Mail. I am friends with two sisters on Facebook who post anti-feminist articles by the publication on each other’s walls and it generally amuses me when the recipient sister pulls out the most absurd statement. It is a given that the Daily Mail is a misogynistic engine seeking to salve the frustrations of life through blaming women.

This week’s article announced that Three-quarters of all important household decisions are made by women and what stood out to me was the notion that men are no longer the domineering head of the family as demonstrated by women making decisions such as what a couple ate and how they spent their money. My issue with this is that I wonder when this golden era was. Take my grandparents; Grandad went out to work and Nana stayed at home. She had a household allowance and with this purchased the food that she then cooked, dressed my mother and uncle and basically dictated their everyday lives. Compared with my own relationship, my Grandad had less influence over their day to day lives than the fiancé does over ours. The fiancé and I both work so he does more about the house; he orders our food online and as he cooks some of our meals, by default he gets to influence what we eat.

So what is at play here? I’m not arguing with the research, I just don’t think women running homes is anything new. While I am definitely one of the three-quarters who decides where we go on holiday I’d argue that is mostly due to conversations going as follows...

Me: I’d like a trip away.

The fiancé: Ok.

Me: Do you have any preferences?

The fiancé: Um...

Me: Let’s go to Barcelona.

The fiancé: Ooh that sounds good!

And then I look at dates and tell him when to request annual leave and book flights and accommodation because otherwise we’d never go. And he’s excited about going away but left to it he could go years without planning a holiday and did, when he was with his ex-wife who didn’t have much interest in holidays. I’ve said if he ever wants to do something or go somewhere to please let me know. After two years I got a suggestion last week that he’d like to go to Ireland. I’ll give him 2011 and then start looking at flights next year when he hasn’t booked anything.

I think it comes down to men being rather content to just go to work and I think a significant part of the appeal of being in a relationship for the fiancé is that I plan stuff for us. Left to his own devices he’d most likely rot in front of his Xbox in his pants surrounded by takeaway boxes and such activity is far more desirable as weekends when I go away than as a permanent state of things. I know he enjoys his weekends alone but he always seems thrilled when I return.

My more militant feminist friends see the description of the situation by the Daily Mail as one that women must fight; a situation that allows for assertiveness to be called nagging. I’m a bit reluctant to take that view as I don’t think it’s constructive. I think rising against those that are anti-women fuels the situation when those people are in a pretty clear minority.

Ultimately I don’t feel there’s much to defend; I see little that’s being restricted for me. In fact I’d go so far as to say that with articles such as this, the Daily Mail sounds as though it’s pleading a lost cause. I mean, women running households and men being ok with being looked after? It’s hardly the stuff of revolutions now is it?

The real issue I think is women not wanting true equality. The EU rulings on gender are a case in point. I was lean more towards statistics based policies but I think these need overhauling to ensure they are accurate. However, I’m happy to accept that this could make me worse off in areas of insurance beyond that of driving. It seems that a great many women don’t follow this logic unfortunately and I think there lies the real challenge of feminism.

There are plenty of women who want it all without repercussions or responsibility. They totally fail to see that everything requires a trade off, a compromise. They are so caught up in the notion of being wronged that they lose all grasp of what is fair or reasonable. There is plenty on the path to equality that is a zero sum game and not every gain can come at a cost to men, some must come at a cost to women. This seems to be a radical notion and that is where the challenge to feminism lies, not the Daily Mail.

The key thing about equality is that it isn’t personal. One of my favourite quotes comes from Fight Club; ‘You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else.’ Ultimately, I break a golden rule of the militant feminists, I ask men what they think is fair. A general consensus this week seems to suggest support for the EU ruling and as such I’m rethinking my position. Because it’s not personal; I’m pretty sure the men I’ve spoken to don’t hold their position out of a dislike of women and a desire to bring them down.

So embrace criticism. My critic has little to teach the world beyond the fact he’s quite a cross person but criticism of a desire for asymmetric equality by certain feminists saw my views attacked as being of that nature. They weren’t but I adjusted my views nonetheless on the basis of other aspects of the argument. It wasn’t personal you see.

3/6/2011 05:27:51 pm

We're exactly the same with holidays. We both love to travel, but it's much more likely to get booked if I do it ;)

4/1/2011 04:56:55 pm

I have thought a lot about this, and while I think that equality is important, it is important to realise that equality doesn't equal being the same... Which creates a bit of a conundrum...

Men and women are different,yet should be equal. I think the only way that this can really work is to acknowledge each others differences, and to have a healthy level of respect for everyone...

I could write a lot more about this... but I think I'll leave it at that...

4/11/2011 06:48:09 am

I agree, equal but different. I like to be the girl, to have him carry my bag at the airport and feel looked after. I like to be able to look up to him as my man and do things to nurture and support him.

Equating men opening doors and women appreciating this to inequality strikes me as a rather outdated concept.


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