Happy Ever After… A Feminist Fairytale
You feed your boy sausage pie. He couldn’t be a chauvinist pig if you wrapped him in bacon. Housewife stereotype, or feminist fairytale with happy ending?
As of this evening, I have two new rules.
1) I need to start remembering to put oven gloves on BEFORE I touch something that might be hot.
2) Nothing is anti-feminist unless it is derogatory, harmful or against the rights of women of all kinds.
I am not a housewife. And if you’d put the suggestion anywhere near me six months ago, I’d have angrily denied it. I’m just not housewifey material. Some people, I guess, are. Some people, I know, are not. Being unable to cook to save my life, having only limited knowledge of the workings of the washing machine and being far too fond of sitting in bed with a cup of tea, plate of toast and my laptop, I really didn’t think I’d ever be the co-habiting type, never mind the housewifey one.
Then the fairytale guff. I met a man, I fell in love, and despite technically living in separate flats, we basically live together. His dishes have been gradually migrating into my cupboard as I broke mine, his food found shelter from his hungry flatmates in my fridge and I think we’ve reached the point where he might as well have his own shelf in my wardrobe so he doesn’t have to keep running back to his flat to change when he oversleeps.
The ‘traditional’ fairytale would then have you believe that what follows is a lifetime of glorified domestic servitude. I act as his skivvy, sometimes his whore, and in return, he exists as The Man in The Relationship.
The ‘politically correct’ ending to the story probably involves a washing-up rota, going halves on bills and everyone paradoxically getting what they want in bed without ever having to do something they don’t like that much.
I’ve seen plenty of articles about the lives of the latter. Articles about the lives of the former: the ones who are pretty much the sole Washing-Ironing-F*cking-Etc, tend to go down the road of trophy wives declaring that every woman should be liberated by her service to her man. And lots of people go NO! That is NOT how it ought to go!
Let me waffle a bit more here, ladies and gentleman of the jury. Step right up and view the freak. We caught her, red handed…* cooking for her man. Because right now, I feel pretty housewifey. And, for the most part, I like it. Yes, sometimes it’s a bit of a pain. He’s a fussy eater, I’m a lazy cook and at the end of the meal it’s a struggle to get someone to wash the dishes. It usually turns into “But I cooked!” or “I’ll do them tomorrow…”
The domestic balance in our relationship is, at best, precariously positioned on a gravity defying tilt. When ill recently, I was treated to burnt toast in bed. I’m not saying he doesn’t try, or that he expects this nonsense to be accepted without a word of complaint. But we’ve reached the point where I think both of us would rather he didn’t try taking responsibility for feeding us. At least, not until I can teach him how to change the settings on the toaster.
The weird thing is, if I’d somehow fallen into bed with an expert cook with a passion for food prep, it’d probably be a complete role reversal. I can’t chop an onion perfectly no matter how hard I try, but my god, does The Boy love sausage pie. I love seeing that smile on his face, the BIIIIIIG one that goes all the way into his eyes and even down to the tips of his fingers as he squeezes my hand and thanks me for cooking.
Alright, some of you are probably rolling your eyes and a resounding chorus of ‘oh good for you’ is starting to deafen me. Shall I cut to the chase a little? A friend of mine is more feminist than any woman alive. And he pointed out that I was being terribly anti-feminist in my man-serving ways. I ought to stop at once and demand equal laziness and equal work with The Boy. Because all sorts of evil things are happening when I carry on in this way. Buildings will fall down, quakes will hit the ground, the sun will swallow the sky, statues will cry… and that’s the sound of me ending the conversation and going to check on the tea (and picking up a baking tray left by one of my flatmates that was still VERY hot).
My train of thought was on the move. My Boy is a lovely one, and you couldn’t make a chauvinistic pig out of him if you put him in a strip club and covered him in bacon (you could however give his flatmates something to laugh at). I very much doubt that, should I ever decide that I’m never cooking again, he’ll walk out the door. If he does, he’ll only get as far as the chippy and he’ll have remembered that I like salt and vinegar on mine.
Of all the things to be construed as anti-feminist, when people are vocalising about the rights of trans-women vs. cis-women and how one person’s slut is another person’s student pressured into attending a Priests and Whores club night.
Me, in my little flat, chopping onions badly and making sausage pie.
I can tell you right now, I’m a woman and I’d be just as happy bunging ready meals into the microwave on my todd as I am right now. This is one of many happily ever afters… all as feminist-friendly as the one before. Why? Because the key word here is ‘happy’.
At the end of the day, isn’t feminism about all women being able to make all choices and being able to feel happy about the choices they’ve been free to make?
*Emmi would just like to point all those who didn’t get the reference in the direction of Voltaire’s ‘Dead Girls’ before you fetch the stakes and torches, scimitars and bayonets…