But Girls Aren’t Supposed to be Smart

Not only is today thI <3 Feminisme first of February, but today marks a return to Feminism Friday–a great opportunity to write about all of those little feminist issues that come up far too often…
Rock’n.

I love the women at my work–I do. Right now my job isn’t the best or most glamorous, it’s an “I NEED MONEY, STAT” kinda job. The kind of job that you take on before you’ve figured out the rest of your life and your dream career. So having good coworkers is a must–it makes bad days good (there’s nothing quite like sharing a moment of mutual complaint) and good days better.

So like I was saying. These women are pretty much great. Half the time we’re complaining about work (I swear, the supervisors at this place would eliminate breaks and lunch altogther if they could. One of the upper level guys said he’d love to take away extra days if he could–which sucks for those of us who sign up for extra days because, well, we need the money.) and the other half these world-wise women are jokingly threatening to set me up with someone.

Today at lunch, the topic of finding me–the twenty-something, single grrrl–a guy. This of course was mixed in with me expressing my woes about not being able to attend the Women, Action & the Media conference due to financial issues (if only I wasn’t on the other side of the US–$500-$600 for a plane ticket? that hurts) and my laughing about how seriously I wanted a dictionary for Christmas–I mean, come on…mine’s from the early ’90s.

Mix this ‘smart talk’ with ‘potential relationship’ talk and what do you get?

Idea’s like “You’re too smart for a guy” and “Play dumb.” Needless to say, these are ideas I’m not terribly fond of, and told ’em so. (Happily they accepted that and began saying, ‘ok! we’ll start looking in libraries and Barnes and Noble for you…”)

So, seriously…what is up with the idea that guys get to have the brains in the relationship?

“Who invented the Typical Girl?” (The Slits)

It’s safe to assume that it draws on the archaic assumption that the men are the breadwinners while women are supposed to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen (never has “moral”–as in moral values–been so twisted). Men get to be the CEOs of big companies and important political figures. Women get to be the trophy wives while their boyz are off doing the important work. Case in point-count how many times you’ve heard Dennis Kucinich’s wife, Elizabeth mentioned. Now take that number and figure out how many of those times her appearance was central to the comment.

I can’t guess what you’ll say, but I’ll bet most of the times you’ve heard her mentioned it’s been in an “Oh wow, how’d Kucinich end up with such a hot woman?” type of mention. While I’m sure Kucinich didn’t marry her just because she’s gorgeous, that’s the type of thing the media likes to pick up.

The double standard featured in 50s television shows still remain 50+ years later. Sure, women are making extreme strides. It’s not the 50s, as can be evidenced by the sheer number of women enrolled in colleges (often we’re outnumbering our male counterparts!) and the number of women branching out to different careers and *gasp* remaining unmarried ’till their late 20s/30s…the many forms of domestic goddesses

Yet-traditional gender roles do exist, as proved by my coworkers today. Sure they’re quite a bit older than I am and the times they grew up in were different from 2008, so it’s hard to imagine some of what they were raised on isn’t still in them. But they’re not the only ones with this view.

A group on LiveJournal and several groups on feminism can attest to that. A community on LiveJournal is bringing back the domestic goddess idea with fervor: The goal of Future Domestic Goddesses of America? “…prepare for an excellent life being great at what we love to do. We will be cooking, cleaning and sex experts, all in addition to maintaining our hotness til we’re pretty old. These things will become a full time job, and just like doctors go to med school, and pilots go to flight school, women who want this job need to prepare for it.”

Well, at least the young women in this group have goals. But I wonder if they realize the complete ramifications of their choice? One poster on the site decried an article on feminism: “Get over yourself and realize that living for someone other than yourself is ok. If you choose to make homemaking your career thats ok too. There is nothing more rewarding and honorable than to take care of your husband and your home.”

Nice thoughts. If you end up in a dream marriage that will never end in divorce leaving you money-less, job-less and potentially home-less. And also, homemaking really isn’t a career in the monetary sense. Yes, homemaking is a vital (oh-so-vital) aspect of our lives. Laundry doesn’t do itself and kids do need a little guidance to make sense of the world. But leaving your life outside of the home on hold can be dangerous to your future. Yes, we need to take care of each other and that is honorable, but make sure you don’t take care of someone/something so much that you forget about yourself and your dreams.

savvy?

Another interesting thing about the FDGoA goal is that you can add “for someone” to each one. A revised goal would look something like this: We will be cooking (for someone), cleaning (for someone), and sex experts (for someone), in addition to maintaining our hottness till we’re pretty old (for someone).”

When you read something that can easily be interpreted like that–how is it a surprise that gender roles remain in existence? Women can too often play to these stereotypes–knowingly or unknowingly. Young women like these are only too happy to play to the expectations of their gendered role (though I’m sure many of them feel that they are, in fact, doing these things for themselves and not *just* their significant other). Then there are women who, in order to meet a guy, will ‘play dumb’ at first, just to make sure the waters of a relationship start off smoothly. She’ll try to be everything this potential partner wants from her–smart but not so smart she’ll overshadow him, grateful that he’s there, wanting of protection, etc, etc the list goes on.

I for one will never play into that role. That role in particular needs to go away. In any relationship I will be forthright and honest as to who I am and expect a partner to do the same. As a woman I can say to men everywhere: We are your equal in relationships.

-don’t idolize us and put us on pedestals.

-don’t assign us to do your laundry unless your taking equal share in housework

-don’t patronize us

-don’t expect us to get your damn beer–if you have feet then you can get up off that sofa and get it yourself.

Don’t misconstrue these, either. One could easily go away from this post thinking that feminists put way too much logic into their relationships so how could they truly love someone? Take care of someone/be taken care of? To all you doubters–it’s possible. And don’t blame me for having standards in a partner.

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One thought on “But Girls Aren’t Supposed to be Smart

  1. Mae October 21, 2008 / 10:45 am

    I’m a feminist who’s been married to the same man for 28 years, and has raised a feminist daughter. I met my husband in Mensa, so there was no question about us both being smart. In my opinion, truly smart people want smart, capable partners, not needy “girls” or “boys”.

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