Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Blame Disney

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.



Unknown said...

Don't give up. They really do exist. I felt like you after leaving a jerk, the type you've described. Now I'm married to a man who thinks of me as his equal. He cooks, cleans and cares for the kids when needed or just to help me out. I never dreamed of finding a man like him.
Never settle. You'll find someone nice too!

Molly Daniels said...

I've told my kids there is only one true 'women's work' out there, and I've done it 3 times: Childbirth.

My boys clean, cook, and do laundry:) another matter. Constantly gripes b/c I 'don't have a (paying) job'...ummm, yeah, I do; the checks only come every three months or so, or in cash during the summer. OH wait...he wants me to have a job that pays the bills? I'm trying. And constantly remind him of what happened the last time I held a full-time (paying) job: He griped the house wasn't clean. I yelled at him, "which do you want, a wife who works and earns $$ or a clean house? B/c I obviously cannot do it alone." He shut up:)

But now he sits, butt on couch, watching Syfy, History, or DIY channels....and gripes about my computer time. So we've compromised; I work on the computer for an hour; enlist his help in household chores for an hour. So far, it seems to be working:)

Kaily Hart said...

I grew up knowing I'd never settle. I'd find a partner or not one at all and I really lucked out. It went a bit further on the curve than I thought, but for many years I was the sole earner with my career and my hubby stayed home, cooked and took care of the kids. I was very ambitious and had better earning potential so it worked out for us. To this day he does all the cooking, grocery shopping and we share the kid duties. He's still a slob around the house of course and will veg out watching sports on TV over the weekend, but I would never describe him as beta. He's as alpha as they come, but I think the difference is that he has true respect for me and my capabilities. He does see me as an equal and that we're a team. People always tell me how lucky I am all the time. I guess I really am. It's way I read and write romance. It is possible to have those Happy Ever Afters!

Mia Watts said...

Amber, I have no designs on settling. :) I'm going to hold out for my personal hero. I'd just like to get a glimpse of the illusive beast.

Molly, Sounds like you're breaking the pattern with you kids. That's great to know.

Mia Watts said...

Hi Kaily, I love me an Alpha, but I'd like him to have a lot of Beta characteristics. Right now, I can't even imagine a man who helps out. It actually doesn't compute. It's like you're talking about fairy tale. LOL. I'm fine without a man in my life, but I do miss the sound of another person breathing, or someone moving in the house.

Allie Standifer said...

Too bad there's no open season on ex-s. Think of all the fun we could have. Seriously there are good men out there. I met mine when I was twelve through a pen-pal program for Space Camp. With everything I am I know if he hadn't died three years ago we'd have made it the long haul. Not that we didn't fight, but who doesn't. Life isn't a fairy tale, but everyone deserves their happily ever after.

Harlie Williams said...

Oh Allie, I'm so sorry about your loss. My hubby and I met through our sister in law. We were friends for about 4 years.

I knew he was perfect but like any "cougar" I was the one holding back until one day, he grabbed me and kissed me hard. From that one moment, I knew that I loved him and would be with him forever. He can be a caveman sometimes and I have to reel him in and settle him down. Ours isn't perfect and we don't claim to be.

Don't give up. I married him when I was 37 and I'm 44 now. I waited for my Prince Charming and yes, I blame it on Disney.

Z said...

Mia, I agree I'd love to share the burden of housework and running kids around after my husband got off work, after all I work all day just not at an office job; but right now I have to do it all as he's stationed over 500 miles away but once he's stationed back home I want to share the evening stuff equally. Common courteoussly would be a godsend. I recently read a writers post about how there are no true gentlemen and she gave her deffinition of a gentleman which some of the points being someone who cared for others without thought for gain, helping the downtrodden, stepping in when they see another being ill treated and a few other things including showing great respect for women.
Molly I agree that is women's work, a labor of love for me and girl I did it 9 times, and now my work is too teach those kids to be good upstanding citizens that can cook and clean and take care of themselves someday...and me when I'm old. We figured it out that when I am very old and my kids have to take care of me if they each take me for 4 months at a time they only have to have me once every 3 years.

Tess MacKall said...

I love Alphas, too, Mia, but I tell ya, those that act like Alphas only do it on the outside. They aren't Alpha through and through.

They are rare and I think all are taken. Which is why I gave up.

As for Disney. Blame them. They have plenty of money and should take the blame. lol

Mia Watts said...

Alli, wow. That sounds like a match made in heaven. I'm sorry he's no longer here to sweep you off your feet.

Harlie, I pray that I can be as lucky one day. I honestly didn't mean for this to be a poor me post, but more of a holy cow where are they post. LOL. Thank you for providing hope.

Mia Watts said...

Zina, your husband is a hero. :) Bless him for doing what he's doing and you for giving him up to follow that call. You are both applaudable and imitable. Thank you.

Also, a true gentleman would indeed be refreshing!

Mia Watts said...

OMG Tess, you and I totally need to go get drinks somewhere and set up shop for a chat. LOL!!

anny cook said...

Sigh... I typed a long response and blogger died. Obviously what I had to say really didn't need to be said. Hang in there!

wv= anaeys...heh.