I was eavesdropping on a conversation started by a married man on social media who was admonishing other men who feel that women should do everything, including cook, clean, and work for their boyfriends/husbands in the name of “equal rights” and feminism. He pointed out that oftentimes men who have this point of view can barely do anything for their girlfriends and wives in return, such as changing tires or fixing things around the house.
It was refreshing to see a man finally come out and hold men accountable for this, because when women say it we are labeled as angry feminists and man-haters.
Equality as a Human Being
There has been an ongoing conversation back and forth between men and women for many years about the effects of feminism on the way we handle relationships today. Some men believe that since we want equality as women, we should have to DO all of the things that men do (and more). I think that’s a distortion of what feminism is all about. My definition is "equal treatment as human beings regardless of gender," not simply "doing what men do." Let’s talk about what being treated equally as human beings means:
– Being paid the same wage for doing the same job just as well. Also, being promoted when you do a great job.
– Having your opinion acknowledged and respected the same as the next person.
– Having access to all opportunities in life (whether your goal is to be a pastor, community leader, political leader, or Fortune 500 CEO).
– Having the freedom to travel, explore, and conduct your business without the fear of being harmed or treated poorly.
– Having an equal say in the decisions that are made for you and your household.
– Not having to live with the fear of being popped in the mouth or shunned when you dare express your beliefs or opinions in public.
Balancing Roles in Relationships
It is true that women are equal to men as human beings. It is also true that women can be cared for and given special treatment as mothers who bring life into the world, sisters who are always there for their families in hard times, and wives or girlfriends who are constantly giving, nurturing, and supporting their partners.
Why wouldn’t a man want to look out for the special woman in his life and make her life a little easier whenever and however he can? She’s that one person who does everything for him and is always there for him. What is so unreasonable about changing a tire for a woman so that she doesn’t have to scrape her knees on the ground doing it? Why wouldn’t you want to feed and care for the woman in your life who cares for you in every other way?
But when you say these common-sense things, you are almost guaranteed to hear at least one guy say "well, hey, you wanted feminism." Yes, again, feminism says that men and women should be on equal footing. We should all be treated like human beings of worth. It also means that some traditional gender roles just may not apply — for instance, some men are amazing cooks and some women are handy with a hammer.
But feminism doesn’t necessarily mean that women must now take on ALL of the roles that have traditionally been played by men. Men and women have different traits and strengths that come together for the good of our families and communities. In some cases, our tendencies towards certain behaviors and activities in relationships are biological and natural.
All of that doesn’t go against the fact that no one should ever feel like they are less human or less deserving of respect just because of their gender.
So clearly, I believe in many of the concepts of modern feminism, but I also believe that sometimes traditional ideas can work in a relationship as well. I think it’s OK to see the value in both and find a healthy balance.
Lynn Gilliard is the author of a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU. Her latest book You Matter encourages women to know and understand their worth.