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Is it sexist to acknowledge families?

I was so frustrated yesterday afternoon when the news of the England Women’s Football Club tweet broke, ironically as I was too busy taking care of my children to write a post saying that relationships were more important than anything else.

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It seems everyone thinks this is “stunningly sexist,” and that it “reduces women down to their relationships,” and pats them on the head and tells them to get on with their real jobs as mothers. It’s true that you see what you want to see. I don’t see that at all. I see a tweet showing the victors of the day as real people with personal lives and relationships.

There’s a lot of talk about how we wouldn’t say this about men, but I disagree, I think we do. I’m sure I’ve read about soldiers returning home to families, sports players wives and children, the successes and failures of their marriages. There’s always an uproar when a sports player is failing at his relationships, by cheating, or beating a girlfriend (and so there should be). I think that we should all be able to discuss family relationships and that it should never be considered offensive to simply acknowledge them. We should celebrate success in relationships knowing how important they are, in light of a 75 year Harvard study that concluded love is all that matters to a person’s happiness. That and “finding a way to cope with life that doesn’t push love away.” We should look up to people who do it right, rather than people who make the most money.

So it’s offensive to discuss domesticity now? Is this where we’ve arrived in feminism? What does this mean for our future as human beings?

Of course everyone knows that in the past patriarchy meant that men went off to do “important jobs” while women dealt with the house and kids. Some feminists always thought that was bull shit and all duties were vastly important but today mainstream feminists propagate this view themselves by encouraging everyone to be ambitious as possible, playing down the importance of domesticity and now even mentioning personal relationships is “reducing” a woman “down” to her relationships. We’re sending the message that family is not important, spending time with family is not worth doing or talking about, and is even possibly something to be embarrassed about.

Look at it. This tweet is just saying they are going home now. How can you be offended at a sentence intended to humanise?

In a book by a pallative nurse, Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, she says working too hard is a top regret for breadwinners at the end of their lives. “All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.” Is this what we want for all citizens? As feminists we saw that patriarchy would not see us as equals unless we became a patriarch so we capitulated and did so. We’re not creating a new world of equality, we’re just encouraging our daughters to compete in the patriarchial game.

Women have come a long way in the past decades, but men not so much. There are a few more stay at home dads, they spend a little more time on housework, but they still feel like they need to be big macho men, especially when they feel their masculinity has been questioned. So why do we feel like to achieve equality we have to go further and further into being like men? Maybe bringing both genders closer to the centre would do the job better.

I have gone on and on about this before but maybe instead of women having to go and ‘lean in’ at some high flying career for 60+ hours per week, men should be working less and pitching in at home more? It certainly seems the research shows we’d all be happier that way. Maybe instead of women being embarrassed to admit they have relationships we should be talking about men’s relationships more?

Similarly, maybe instead of trying to masculinify language at work we should allow both styles equally. In a recent article in Business Insider, which I hated, women were told to stop using the word ‘just’ so much. Happily I’ve come across this incisive piece which argues the original one is pure mysogyny. It’s worth a read, but succinctly she says, “What this advice boils down to is ‘talk like a man’. The writer doesn’t even try to argue that there’s some inherent reason to prefer ‘less body language’ (whatever that means) to more. It’s preferable simply because it’s what men are said to do. Men are more successful in the workplace, so if women want to emulate their success, the trick is to mimic their behaviour.”

Kids today have already taken it onboard. Another Harvard study concluded that kids think their parents value achievements over caring for others. And who is surprised? It’s no wonder there’s so much depression is there? If we continue to construct this narrative that achievements matter the most, how will that change? Because what isn’t admitted is that by stripping women (and men) of their families there are huge numbers of people with nothing left to be happy about. Most people just have jobs. Even people with careers are just trying to make a living. Those of you who love your career and live for it need to “check your privilege” because it’s not common.

We’ve been doing this for decades now, and it’s not going to work. All we are left with is a vastly unequal capitalist system where 70% of people are unengaged with their jobs, depression and other mental illness is common, and all of us are fighting for scraps.

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