I wasn’t taught to feel this way. The concept of sexism wasn’t even really an issue in my household back in the 1960’s and ’70’s when I grew up. Mom worked outside the home part-time. Dad could cook. There generally wasn’t a lot of stress over household chores because my beautiful saintly little Italian grandma came over every day while mom worked and gladly did most of the day-to-day chores and got dinner started. She spoiled us with popsicles and nickles for penny candy.
The sense of unfairness started to build about the time that my younger brother got out of weekend dish duties once he was old enough to cut our small lawn with the push mower. Dad said that was only fair. But it wasn’t. I would gladly have pushed that lawn mower out in the warm sunshine instead of spending all day Saturday cleaning up dishes after the never-done-eating brother and dad. (Mom happily worked at the downtown department store on Saturdays). I hate housework today for the same reason I hated it then. It’s tedious, thankless, and endless. At least if I had to cut the grass, it would be noticeable and it wouldn’t need done again for a few days. I remember being so riled up about the unfairness of it all that one day I just grabbed the kitchen faucet and yanked it from side to side in anger. My dad thought it was quite amusing.
As I got older, the women’s movement for equal rights affected me deeply. I subscribed to Ms. magazine. I fumed over the way women were marginalized and treated unfairly. I know for a fact that I’m every bit as good and smart and important as anyone else in this world. My gender certainly doesn’t make me less so. Yet, women are still treated differently. We’re very often paid less than men for the same work, passed over for promotions we deserve, and still end up doing most of the crappy thankless housework. Just because we’re female!
In many circles, women are brainwashed to believe that their gender makes them subservient and relegated to a preordained role in life, whether or not that’s how they personally want to live their life. They are taught to hide their talents and defer their dreams and submit to their man, whether he is right or clearly wrong. Then, lest their true sense of fairness and justice allows them to question this, they are quoted excerpts written eons ago in various religious texts by men who lived when only the strong (or subservient) survived.
These books often talk about how all men are created equal, and to be kind to your brother. They mention how to treat your slaves and your women. Today, in the civilized world, we abhor slavery. We don’t treat our slaves with kindness because we understand that slavery is wrong. And we don’t have them. But women are still supposed to submit to their husbands, just like they were instructed to thousands of years ago.
Thankfully, in most civilized cultures, we recognize that discrimination is evil and insidious. A person’s worth is not determined by the color of his or her skin or the religion they grew up with. How crazy is it that it’s still acceptable to treat our very own mothers, sisters, daughters and wives as something slightly less important than the men in our world? How can anything rationalize this discrimination?