Ino longer spend much time on Facebook. Maybe that’s because when I do, I am almost guaranteed to land on something to spoil my day. This week it was a re-shared article from a young man that offered a list of reasons why men should not get into serious relationships with women who make a living as nurses, law enforcement officers, models and lawyers. Out of curiosity I clicked on the link. While the article offered the reasons why men should avoid marrying women in the listed professions, it told me more about the writer.
Imagine suggesting a particular category of woman should not be taken seriously, certainly when it comes to long-term relationships, because “they are tough, know their rights, are beautiful and constantly on duty”.
Instead of just letting yet another ignorant FB assault on women slide, I suggested to the latest attacker that perhaps he was himself the problem; that maybe he needed some lessons in what it is to be a real man in a modern world. His response: “There’s something about having to be constantly on duty . . . so a traditional marriage isn’t in order.”
Really? In 2017? Have we women not earned our places in the workplace after all these years of fighting oppression? In many places the deadly fight continues. Was this Facebook genius really trying to tell me a woman who daily puts her life on the line to protect others was not fit to be a traditional wife and mother because she was easily distracted? And there I was thinking how wonderful were women when it came to multi-tasking!
Seeking to better understand his jungle perspective, I asked what was his idea of a traditional marriage. He did not respond. I got my answer later that day, from a totally unexpected source. I was waiting to cross a busy Castries street when I overheard a somewhat overheated conversation: “I tell mate already, man should not get with woman just for corcot!” That caught my attention all right. I glanced to my left to see three young guys engaged in animated discourse, one of them evidently concerned that an absent friend was stuck in a relationship with a female who “does nothing for him”.
“Man getting with woman for how they can maintain,” he said. “How they can cook, how they can clean and wash.” His hands flying in all directions he went on: “A man cooking his own breakfast, doing his own clothes – that’s not right.” His tone suggested nothing could possibly be more demeaning; more emasculating!
Referencing his “abused” friend in particular, he said: “The man clothes soaking for four days, smelling up the damn place, and she just going off to work every morning like everything is okay. That not telling you that woman eh for you? Mate have to be an asshole!”
I recalled the presumed counsellor on FB with his proffered list of females to avoid. I wondered what the disappointed friend’s lady did for a living. Why couldn’t “mate” wash his own clothes? They both had jobs and, judging by what I’d heard, hectic schedules. What was all that about – leaving his soaking laundry unattended for four days then complaining to his friend that his woman seemed unconcerned about his smelly laundry? Our notions of what is men’s work and what’s women’s obviously have not changed much since I was a little girl. It would appear relationships still depend on whether the woman was stuck with a near Neanderthal or with a modern man willing to take turns at the kitchen sink, the stove or in the laundry room.
It occurs to me that for many men in simply beautiful Saint Lucia, feminism, gender equality and the empowerment of women remain little more than quaint ideas, fanciful fantasies not to be taken seriously in real life.
More men than we realize, young and not so young, continue to believe in such things as a woman knowing her place, which is to say, under the thumb of the man who claims to love her, wants to or has fathered her children. Too many men in this corner of paradise also believe a woman who steps out of line is asking for it: and I’m not just talking about the anti-rape campaign!