I’m no feminist by any stretch of the imagination—mostly because I consider it a diminishment of what I stand for as a woman. But having said as much, I would like to know what makes men think they have the right to go around half clothed. Every time I see some guy walking around bare-chested I feel as if they are saying “Yes, women look upon my manly lack of breast. Gaze upon the evidence that I will never have to endure child birth or breastfeeding-induced chaffing.” (I don’t come at this issue from a modesty standpoint, though being raised by two former Pentecostals hasn’t given me the broadest of views on the subjects.) It isn’t as though the chest you are staring at is that of the latest Calvin Klein model (we should be so lucky). More often than not it’s Fred, your fifty-something neighbor mowing his yard, who would make a great spokesman for the need to ban all trans-fats.
When I see such a display of male prerogative, I’m tempted to utter the childish phrase “It’s just not fair!” It puts me in mind to go out in high heels (or to go out and purchase a pair of high heels) and prance around the neighborhood shouting “Yes, men look upon my feminine fragility. Gaze upon the evidence that I will never be drafted into the military or be asked to unclog the garbage disposal.” Let’s face it, we may be of the same species but there is a considerable distance between Venus and Mars. So why fight it? What is it in me that rises up in defiance when my sons drop their drawers and go the bathroom outside while my daughter and I huddle in the port-a-potty trying to convince ourselves that the blue water really does kill all the germs?
There must come a point when we learn to appreciate each of our contributions to society as a whole and to the well being of one another as husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. I think this moment came for Jim and me several years ago when he was sitting on the couch reading and I was putting away laundry. I was mindlessly doing my “woman’s work” when it suddenly dawned on me that I would be doing this menial task for him for the rest of my life. Never again would someone wash my clothes, fold my socks, etc. I walked into the living room, a little perturbed. In a rather self-righteous tone I said “It must be nice to open your drawer and, like magic, there are clean clothes to wear.” Without skipping a beat, he looked up and said “And it must be nice to go to the bank, insert your ATM card and, like magic, there is money.” He went back to reading. I went back to putting away clothes but I think that moment is the one of the defining moments of our life together for I truly believe we both walked away thinking “sucker.”