In the fifties, television ads and shows promoted moms in dresses, neatly cinched belts, perfectly arranged hair, heels, and pearls. We raced to the front door when our men came home, and dropping a chaste kiss on their cheek, we cocked our legs up at the knee like a check-mark, "Yes, my duty as a wife if perfectly done."
We handed our problems over to their sturdy shoulders while we wept over the saltiness of our gravy. We vacuumed with a hum on our lips, and never smeared our make up.We were expected to keep the house, and our men kept us.
Fortunately, not all women accepted this kind of lifestyle. Women's lib was already brewing and with the aid of television, the message that women aren't completely brainless except for the brand of starch on ironed shirts, became more widely accepted.
Now there are a lot of historical details I'm leaving out, because first, I'm no historian, and second, this is my personal take on the situation. You are welcome to disagree. But here's how I see things, and I definitely have a skewed perspective.
My ex, and a lot of other men I've met (some married to friends over the years) and some just guy pals I know, retain that archaic principle that women are the home keepers. But they've adapted that view point. I'm not sure if it's clever or just lazy, but I'm finding more and more men who expect women to do it all. They saw the women's movement as a means to allow women to work. Great. Yes, some of us like work. But what they didn't alter, is the perception that anyone else but womanhood should still maintain the house and family.
For this, I blame Disney. Cartoon movie after cartoon movie show dainty female things that clean and bustle about, waiting for their dashing prince charming. Once they marry him, all their woes are over. It's what we all grew up with, what Disney is still putting out (the Frog Prince, which I didn't like, may be the only deviation I can think of to this).
I've talked to dozens of women about the men they've dated and the men they've married. There are always exceptions, yes. But there seems to be a common thread for my generation of men. They either don't have jobs, aren't looking for jobs, or they have them and come home to flop on the couch with the television. Meanwhile women are still expected to clean, cook, launder, wash, put away, vacuum, manage the children, all the daycare, AND still hold a job. Why is that?
I blame Disney.
And lax parenting. I sincerely worry about the growing generation of children. I worry about the young girls growing up and expecting nothing from their spouses, no sense of responsibility from the men in their lives. Is this what's ahead? We went from one kind of slavery to another one? We expanded our freedoms, to have them used against us?
Granted, I'm a bit preoccupied with the subject of men right now. Hey, divorce does that to you. But I left a bad situation that is (not surprisingly) similar to what my friends experienced. The sad thing is, I don't see a change on the horizon. I'm not someone who classifies herself as a women's libber in the strictest sense of the word, but I do believe in basic rights and common courtesy. I believe that when people come together, they share the load, however that load gets divided.
I'd love to know that I'm just talking to the wrong people. Yet even in the good marriages I've seen, there's a lot of leaning going on, and they choose to ignore it because that's just life. Am I the only one who refuses to settle? I don't want perfection, just common courtesy. It's too bad that we find our Beta men in books. I'd like to believe that they really exist out there.
Until then, I'll keep blaming Disney.