No matter what anyone says, I have noticed over time – especially with the increasing rate it seems I have to deal with it – that it’s true. I live in a male sexist world.
I am often astounded that people don’t notice. To be fair, however, I also didn’t when I was naive to what words actually mean and what motives actually are in people. Still it amazes me, and probably will until the day I die, how people can be so backwards in this year and time.
Today was one of those encounters where the man got to say his piece and have the upper hand, and I ended up smiling as I’ve been conditioned to do and even laughing a little bit at his barb. I’m not laughing about it right now. Things sink in slowly with me, so where I first notice something isn’t nice I later realize things just flat weren’t acceptable at all. And I know, despite the times a man has told me I’m being oversensitive, that I’m *not* being oversensitive. I’m being observant, and I don’t like what I am observing. Especially when it’s aimed at me. I have the right to not appreciate an insult the same as any man does. I also have the right to say something about it. Maybe men think they don’t have the right to do that. Newsflash: they do.
I am a very busy woman. I also am not infinite when it comes to physical energy. I long ago took to telling people I had limited spoons based on the spoon theory. If I tell the other half I’m running out of spoons and we’re not home, he knows we’d better get home because I’m about to be bedridden. This is my life. I have days where I get muddled, where it’s an effort to sit at the computer, and then there are days where I have bursts of energy.
The bursts of energy are spent in a variety of ways, and I burn like a flaming torch because deep down inside I know it’s short lived. I get commissions done. I plant, I garden (food as well as flowers), and I clean house. When I clean house, I usually end up on the phone to friends boasting that my house is clean as if I ran a marathon. But the trick is… I feel like I did when this happens. And I feel like I won.
Then the fatigue hits, and I’m down for the count all over again. Up and down, like a rollercoaster.
We don’t know why life is like this for me. It just is. It could be MS – runs in the family – but being as there’s no cure there’s no point in bleating about it to the doctor. It could be menopause. It could be my whopping case of asthma and the fur all around the house. Monthly migraines were definitely a large part of the problem until I discovered (recently) that potassium and magnesium supplements help. Maybe it’s the growing mold in the basement. And of course there’s the annual bout of bronchitis, which I am suffering with right now. That one’s always a doozy. It used to land me in the emergency room right on schedule, but these days I’m better at coping and know more of what to do.
So the house right now isn’t sparkling and clean because, as I just mentioned, I’m dealing with the bronchitis. Not enough oxygen means not enough energy. Not that the house is ever perfectly clean, but I’d like to see it better I admit. I’m in the stage of this that clients are emailing me to wonder where I am. One is so used to this with me that when I go silent she emails and asks how’s the migraine, I kid you not. It’s good to work with wonderful people. They care, and you can care for them.
The husband does try to help with the house, I do need to add. He vacuums for me when I fuss about it enough. (I can’t vacuum. The dust is too much for my weakened lungs to take.) He helps clean a room sometimes. Unfortunately the basement is so bad I can’t even go halfway down the stairs to handle anything down there, so right now he’s also doing laundry as a chore. (And is *supposed* to be spraying the basement regularly against the mold.) I really miss doing laundry. That was one of the few chores I enjoyed, and my laundry room is a nightmare to behold right now.
I’m giving my husband credit right now, so I will dance away from being very upset that he will open a package while standing next to the garbage can and unfailingly lay the garbage on a counter or even walk to another room to lay it down rather than throw it away. And other clutter causing activities that have made me want to leave him frequently, before I murder him. We’re just two people in a large house, and he’s so messy it’s a burden. But I’m not going to mention that. Nope.
The air conditioning unit broke, and this meant calling one of the local boys to get it fixed. Nice guy, I might add. This post is not against him. It’s against something he said that’s more a reflection on the local social element than him as a person. It brought up a point that I’ve been meaning to say for so many years now, and this is as good a time as any even though I’m not prone to making commentary about sexism here or anywhere that’s not a private conversation.
Apparently, according to our repair man, corrugated air conditioning filters are bad for the unit. They clog up fast and make the unit work harder. So I asked about allergen filters, because it occurred to me that if I could just get some better air around here I might be able to function better. Nope, he said. He told me that filters aren’t supposed to work “like a vacuum cleaner”. And that the allergen filters don’t do any good at all, they’re a gimmick.
I wasn’t thinking of having a filter work like a vacuum cleaner, just between you and me. If I wanted an automatic vacuum cleaner, I’d try to get a rumba. I was thinking it might help with the fur that’s flying everywhere – especially considering he was there to repair our air conditioner because it was just that clogged with fur. (Which I refuse to take 100% responsibility for. I’d been away for years and there was someone staying here for free that should have asked me about having the unit maintained, instead of telling me she was doing it and apparently NOT getting it done. I’ll allow myself 30% of the blame, as when we first came home we thought we’d cleaned it and apparently didn’t know what we were doing. Humph.)
So I asked, “Why do the filters even still get sold, then, if they don’t do anything except hurt the units?”
He said, “Because women like you keep buying them.”
We laughed. What a wonderful joke. Like I said, the person that has sparked my thoughts is a nice guy. He’s a complete innocent in this as far as I’m concerned.
The thoughts are another matter. Jokes like his (and sometimes flat out serious statements) are something I’ve heard repeatedly from people who have absolutely no idea how I spend my days, what I do with my time, or even how much time I have. I’ve lived in situations where I’d spend all day cleaning, and the ex would come home and literally make such a mess while I slept that it looked like I had never cleaned at all. (No, seriously. This really happened.) I’ve been in situations where the very same person who praised how wonderful my house looked all the *other* times she came to inspect the rental turned on me because things weren’t as clean as she thought they should be. (While we were packing to move.) I’ve had so-called friends call child welfare on me because my house wasn’t as clean as hers and (she admitted) tell lies just to get the case workers to come to the house and check on me. (Yes, by the way, this did indeed ruin my life.) Beloved people complained I was always sick and broke ties… Gods the things I have seen by people who feel I’m being oversensitive when I take note that something’s not quite right. I’ve learned to listen to myself and take care NOT to calm down.
Because of women like me. That statement taken at face value in this very particular situation means the following: It means I’m lazy. It means I’m a terrible housewife. It means I stupidly look for the easy way out when I should just vacuum. That I’m not as sick as I say I am. My husband shouldn’t be the one cleaning because he’s been working overtime lately. It’s all on me. Because that’s my role in this house. I clean, and it’s women like me that allow for stupid gimmicks and make it so he has to clean six years of fur out of an air conditioner’s panel that we didn’t even know existed. A woman like me.
There are some other very important things about this household that probably wouldn’t happen without a woman like me. I feel the world needs an explanation on this because that sort of ignorance makes for unhappy homes and unhappy clients. Let me educate you.
First of all, a woman like me is rarely a housewife in this day and age. I most certainly am not a housewife.
I am not a housewife because I am an entrepreneur. A woman like me likes to engage her mind in activities that require we step out of the kitchen. There’s only so much time in the day, and we have to choose. So we choose. In my case, I choose to earn money by using my skills. I choose to work on the publishing company, to fight for my place in a man’s world, and to tell stories. I, essentially, choose to be creative. Lucratively.
If it weren’t for a woman like me we probably wouldn’t have much of anything. There was a long period of time – some of you might remember – when we weren’t making enough money to pay the bills and I had to pick up all sorts of jobs. The husband worked 9 to 5. I worked from dusk to dawn. Sometimes dawn to dawn. My health took a lot of heavy blows for it, but I kept plugging on because a woman like me doesn’t necessarily like to give up.
The husband is a good worker. He’s the main breadwinner these days… but he’s terrible with the finances, although I have tried to help him learn. Without a woman like me in the house, the bills would definitely not get paid on time. In fact, the husband has said frequently that if it weren’t for me he’d just let everything get repossessed and go somewhere to live on his pension and never shave.
Without a woman like me in his life, my husband would never shave. Beard lovers, you need to stop and consider what I’m saying there very carefully before jumping to conclusions.
It’s a woman like me that writes novels, draws comics, works the equivalent of two and three jobs at times, and even puts together music videos and short movies.
It’s a woman like me that’s there for her friends, that does random things to raise awareness to modern day slavery, and plants things to help the bees and save the pawpaw trees. It’s a woman like me that’s trying to learn shapenote singing so she can return the skill to her people; the same goes for the Mohegan language.
It’s a woman like me that knows when the car needs servicing, and just what needs done. It’s a woman like me that is currently mapping all the wild blackberry bushes she can find for self sufficiency. In fact, to lower all pretense of humility, there have been times I’ve been told that a woman like me saved the life of her friends by simply providing guidance and being there. Otherwise they would literally have killed themselves.
It was a woman like me who demanded her husband stop the car to save a woman who was being brutally beat by her husband on the side of the road. It was a woman like me who took that woman to the police station and told the police she was pregnant – ensuring that abuser was going to be locked up for a long long time. A woman like me isn’t necessarily a hero, mind you; just someone who happened to listen and be in the right place at the right time for all she’s a big fat coward.
It was a woman like me that fought for her stepdaughter’s safety in every legal way she knew how, and to hell with anyone who would take the credit for my efforts.
That’s right. A woman like me.
Without a woman like me, the carpenter bees we are currently combating would just take the house and probably fly away with it. It’s me that reminds the hubby to take care of that and a host of other things I can’t. It’s me that goes around the entire property and keeps a mental inventory of what needs doing, when, and how. There have been times I have gotten too sick to do this and when I finally got up again, the dogs were skin and bones and everything was a disaster.
Without a woman like me, our dream home and the things we are building wouldn’t exist. I am the brains. The husband is a backup set of brains and the brawn. This is traditional, and for us it’s right. It works. No other way could, and I’m not keen on picking up the mess of it after the failure.
Even weak as I am, I am the power house of industrious activity and single-minded action. Imagine if I could breathe straight. If I had sets of days of energy without end. An entire drawer full of spoons. Imagine what I could do.
The house would probably still be messy. But, this is important, not AS messy.
So what if a woman like me hopes an allergen filter on their central air unit will help with the mess around the house! If it weren’t for a woman like me, there’d be no damn house! There’s be less books to read, less comics to enjoy, less movies to watch!
Viva women like me!
Imagine a world without women like me. If you’re having trouble picturing it, there are a few places in the Middle East you might want to take a long hard look at. Over there, you’re not allowed to be a woman like me. Imagine yourself sitting in the dust of a colorless world, a place devoid of the fruits of our labor.
I’m okay with being a woman like me. I’m not okay when other people do not understand what it takes to BE a woman like me. So I hope this lesson sticks, at least a little bit, the next time you feel moved to judge someone you barely know because they have dishes in the sink. Or don’t clock in at someone else’s set hours to work for someone else’s dream.
My name is Spearcarrier, and I earned that name by being a woman like me. It’s a lot of work being a woman like me. But it’s worth it.