There I was thinking that today’s women had come a long way! But between the allegations against, what now seem to be countless men in all spheres of life, I wonder if we have been fooling ourselves.
From Hollywood to the British Houses of Parliament right through to an Irish Theater company, sexual harassment seems to have been an integral part in all these spheres. And that’s before mentioning all the cultures around the world where women are still treated as second-class citizens. And the Catholic church, don’t forget. And unequal pay across the board.
So, did we just think we were liberated, at least in Western societies? It seems that some men still feel a sense of entitlement and regard women as sexual objects they can take advantage of. But that’s not all, even in the home, gender inequality prevails. Let me tell you Mary’s story.
Mary is in her late fifties, has grown up children who’ve flown the nest. She now lives alone with her husband and works in administration, part-time. When I spoke to Mary recently, she told me how she likes her home to be spotless, so much so that she often gets up at 6 am to clean, put on a wash, and do the odd bit of ironing.
That’s what’s she’s been doing all her life, without ever getting any help around the house from her husband. “I don’t mind doing it”, she assured me, “but that day, I got really cross.” She went on to tell me how her husband, who never puts anything away, was once again looking for something and pulling everything out in the process, even though she had just finished tidying.
This time, it was the sellotape and eventually, unable to find it, he rather abruptly made her find and give it to her. “I had told him where I keep the sellotape lots of times”, she explained.
But what got her really annoyed that day was that, after giving him the tape, he demanded, she’d located the start of the tape. (You have to picture a roll of tape without a holder here). She blew her top and refused. A bitter row ensued, with him calling her unreasonable and her welling up with age-old frustration and disbelief at the lack of support. In the end, she walked away.
It’s unlikely that things will ever change. Mary will continue to work hard keeping the house clean, and her husband will go on with a sense of entitlement that tells him it’s OK to let your wife to all the crap jobs around the house.
Educate Boys, Not Girls
I’ve heard countless people demand that girls be educated and brought up to be confident and self-reliant, and true enough, that’s important and valuable. But how about educating boys away from that what seems to be an inherent sense of entitlement, not just sexual but also when it comes to looking after the home and kids? Shouldn’t we teach our boys to shoulder some of the responsibility and truly treat girls as equals?