I will never forget the day that it all became clear to me how much easier men’s lives are than women’s. I was sitting in my dear friend’s apartment and he said “If life as a video game, men would play life on easy and women would start life on difficult.” He went on to explain how everything from societal standards to sheer anatomy make women’s lives inherently more difficult day to day. Men do not have to deal with menstrual cycles, growing, birthing and feeding babies, or the primary responsibility of birth control. Men get to spend much of their free time relaxing without guilt and are praised exorbitantly when they do the tiniest amount of housework. Maybe that view is archaic, but it is still largely true in the lives of many.
Women are expected to look made-up and men are expected to dress functionally.
Women are expected to go to work in make-up, with their hair coiffed just so, in slacks that are slimming (aka don’t have pockets that can hold more than a dime). Men get real pockets. They get comfortable shoes. The outfits they wear to work are equally acceptable for a date night out, a wedding, or a funeral. And you know what? Their clothes are comfortable. They’re practical. If they go to the store in basketball shorts and a t-shirt, well they are just enjoying their day. If a woman goes to the bank in yoga pants and a tank top, she’s really let herself go.
Even with the things out of our control, we expect more from women. The other day my husband and I noticed that our son has my husband’s prominent forehead wrinkles. They’re precious, but what did I say? “Let’s just hope if you have a sister she doesn’t get those. It’s distinguished on men, but not on women.” Then I wanted to vomit. How could I be indoctrinating my tiny son with the same ridiculous double standard that tears so many women down?
Women are expected to exceed and men are expected to suffice.
Just the other day I was talking a good friend about her 16 year old son. She was so grateful he finally pulled his grades up to his potential and couldn’t understand what would possess him to ever think “a D is fine.” I said “because he’s a boy.” Our male friend agreed with me. She said, “But I never thought like that. I always put in 100 percent effort.” I said, “Yeah, because a girl slacking isn’t cool.” Women are expected to be behaved, achieving dolls or they are looked down on as a shame to the gender. Men just meeting snuff is more than acceptable, it’s cool. No one assumes he is any less intelligent or cultured, he simply doesn’t put stock in societal expectations. He’s James Dean. He’s who you want to be friends with.
Women are expected to be busy and men are expected to enjoy.
I work outside of my home one day a week, run two businesses from my home, and take care of a 3 month old all day. My husband works very hard at a 40-45 hour a week job outside our home. Yet I feel immense guilt anytime I sit down to enjoy my sleeping son, have a glass of wine, or hell, even shower, because I should be cleaning. I should be doing the dishes, paying the bills, sweeping the floor, or organizing some menial little thing because I should be busy. If I’m not, then clearly I am being lazy.
Do I think my husband is being lazy when he comes home, sits down, and scrolls through Facebook? No, of course not. He’s enjoying himself. He worked all day, so why shouldn’t he enjoy himself and not let the pressures of life get to him? Women are conditioned to feel guilty if they aren’t doing something. Unless, of course, the house is perfectly clean, all your work is finished, no one would like your help with anything, and it’s midnight so no other errands can be run. But then you really should be sleeping because you’ve got a lot to do tomorrow.
Women are expected to be gracious and men are expected to be proud.
Now of course, even though women are doing — well, everything — they should never toot their own horn. No, don’t list all you’ve done that day when someone asks you what you’re up to. No, don’t tell anyone how proud you are of your latest article. When you are offered praise, you should shly turn it down with a “oh it wasn’t that hard” or, “it really wasn’t anything.” If they press, then the right course of action is to offer a “thank you” and change the subject to something wonderful they did. Heaven forbid you say “Right?! That was awesome. I worked so hard on that. I’m pretty brilliant.”
Men are delightful if they have high self esteem. They’re attractive, even if a little pompous. If a woman should know and recognize her worth, then she is full of herself. She is distasteful and rude. So the moral of the story? Women should be dressed to the nines (effortlessly) be constantly achieving and doing, but never recognizing it or being content with it. On the flip side, men should be relaxed in dress and demeanor, know their worth and proclaim it loudly. Is it any wonder women are so exhausted and men are so happy?
Men are taught and allowed to live in the moment and enjoy life (maybe sometimes even because women will pick up the rest of the slack) and women are conditioned to never be satisfied because they will never quite be enough. Well enough is enough! Sit your ass down, put your feet up, and drink your poison of choice while watching whatever terrible movie tickles your fancy. Enough of the guilt. When it creeps in your head, ask yourself “Would a man be shamed for this or praised for this?” Live life on easy and maybe women can be happy too.
Photo credit: Alexander Mils