I was privy to a conversation the other day at work. However, I ended up being more surprised by the reaction of the comment than the actual topic itself.
First, you must know that our office allows casual dress and many employees represent their favorite college teams on Fridays. A gentleman in the office, who is in his 60s, relayed the fact that his wife had apologized to him for not ironing his Georgia T-shirts in time for him to wear them one particular Friday.
We can stop there and discuss the fact that there are still women ironing their husband’s shirts, and even apologizing when the job is not completed. I should note: My colleague wasn’t complaining; he was honestly just surprised by her apology and obviously didn’t realize until that moment that she cared so much about his Friday attire.
Once he mentioned his wife’s efforts, there were several colleagues — both men and women who were in their 30s — who commended what she did and that he had ‘found a good one.’ Yes, Millennials who were raving how lucky he was to have found a ‘woman like that.’
If the #MeToo campaign is to truly thrive, we have to first determine as women where we want to be. Is it safe? Ambitious? Equal? Honored? Yes, sexual assault needs to end and straight men need to adhere to two rules I was given by guy friends long ago for Mr. Carter when he was born: If you have to force it or pay for it, you’re doing it wrong. Men need to put the time and effort into obtaining a woman’s affection, and women need to see themselves worth the effort.
I always felt that, as a lesbian, I had an opportunity for more freedoms in my relationships. As two women, we can create our own dynamic and don’t have to adhere to the social constructs that sometimes strangle straight couples and keep them from being truly happy. However, some habits are hard to break and I see gay couples who take on certain gender roles where there are none. I think subtle comments like the ones I heard at work still permeate into people’s subconscious, that to be a good wife means to serve the other ahead of yourself. To be a good husband means to work and allow your partner to know that your effort in doing so allows you from having to deal with certain responsibilities that are now theirs.
On my podcast, “She Persisted,” I constantly remind listeners that learning who you are and truly realizing your likes and dislikes regardless of others’ opinions of them is key to finding your own happiness. As able adults, we each need to learn how to be self-sufficient — both financially and emotionally — and stop relying on others to fill the gaps in our lives. To do that would get us to the place that famous movie line advised: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”