A recent visit at FMH and John Dehlin’s Mormon Stories interview with fmhLisa (Butterworth) has made me realise something about myself that I am not very proud of. Therefore, in the spirit of a post I wrote for another blog, I want to confess something. I am sexist.
It is not intentional. In fact, I have, and would still call myself a feminist. What are my qualifications for such a preposterous claim? Well, first I wholeheartedly support equal rights and opportunities for women in all forms within a society. Second, I was raised by feminist (then-single) Mormon housewife/full-time teacher. Third, I have studied, support and work with feminist theory and research in my University education. Fourth, I try to support my wife in her decisions regarding being a working-mum or SAHM.
Yet, none of this did not help realise something. Lisa described this way, ‘When I got married I really thought that we would be equal partners, and we were. We really were. He did as much of the housework as I did, we both worked, we both made money… But as soon as I had a baby I was just shocked at how my world changed and how there was no equality anymore. I was shocked of how much of that burden fell on me.’
From a different perspective Reese Dixon both glories and laments being able to have only one ‘role’; that of being a mother.
I guess I have failed to see how our relationship is becoming more unequal. It started out great, I think. She worked while I was at School and I did the majority of the housework and the cooking. Shortly after I was married I was called to a position that meant I was out a few evenings of the week; and then things began to change. A short time later, my calling changed, and I was out more. We moved, but I kept the same calling, had a baby and I graduated. We managed that ok, I was home a lot and tried to make sure I would regularly share the different responsibilities. I was home most of the time during the day and I could do that. My wife returned to work and I looked after our baby and began my post-graduate study.
Just over a year ago, my calling changed again. Now I was out nearly every evening and my studies required more time. We got pregnant again and I began teaching. Finally another baby arrived.
Recently, there are some weeks that I never cook and rarely clean. Though I home, I work and so I see the kids but I don’t always get time with them and sometimes I rarely change nappies or help feed.
Now, some might be thinking that if this is how we balance the responsibilities then that is fine. The issue here is that I am unhappy with this and so is my wife. The issue is that it is easier for me to allow this pattern to continue and I don’t like that about myself.
It is apparent that the systemic sexism in both the Church and the UK has made it easy for me to live out a patriarchal (not in a good way) existence by drawing me into the public sphere while simultaneously requiring that my wife live her life in private sphere. That requirement is disseminated through the subtle, pernicious and quiet expectation that my wife will support me in my responsibilities.
I have need to repent for choosing to be acted upon rather than to act against the tide of these social influences.