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Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Recently I had a conversation with my stepdaughter, who is enlisted military.  Something she told me I just can’t get out of my head:  that she has been told she was “selfish” to join the armed forces.  SELFISH to enlist.  The main rationale for this criticism, as far as I can tell, is that she is a MOTHER.  And enlisted military are sometimes required to LEAVE TOWN.  Did you know that?  That our soldiers can’t just sit around hometown USA and collect a paycheck?  This gave me a big old brain hole where I am trying to comprehend the reasoning.  She is divorced, with a 50/50 custody arrangement.  Which according to some people is also SELFISH.  So let’s try to figure out why a woman who wants to serve her country and doesn’t provide 24/7, 365 childcare is somehow “selfish”, shall we???

I don’t want to jump to conclusions here, but are our Y chromosome military facing the same kind of pushback she is?  Do fathers who are “out of town” serving the country face the same kind of criticism?  Are soldiers who choose to be parents SELFISH?  Or have we decided, as a society, that a mother’s care is so far superior to a father’s that his at home “service” is negligible, while her abdication of at home service is “neglect”?  The double standard applied here is like the regular double standard on steroids because how many times have you heard tell of a man who thinks “stay-at-home” moms need to get a “real job”?  But if that “real job” is defending our country?  Or somehow “interferes” with providing childcare?  Then she is being “selfish”.  Can a woman win? 
I think just being a plain old wife includes many jobs.  Decorating, food shopping, meal prep, holiday prep, gift buying, schedule and budget maintenance, gardening, cleaning, laundry…I won’t go on, but many of these “jobs” are individual, well paid professions.  Now add childcare into the picture and this explodes exponentially.  Yet “stay-at-home” moms are often admonished to get “real jobs” while career women who are also mothers are branded “selfish”.  We all know there are double standards when it comes to pay—women earn 77 cents to a man’s dollar—and there are major double standards when it comes to female versus male sexuality.  But what I am starting to sense is that a dynamic I and so many women I know experience in our marriages and relationships is just a microcosm of our societal dynamic:  no matter what the circumstances, somehow, as Jimmy Buffet famously sang, “there is a woman to blame”.

You know the term “gaslighting”?  It is defined as a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented in order to make the victim doubt their own perceptions, memories, SANITY.  I have experienced this personally in nearly all of my relationships with men—being told that I am “crazy” to feel the way I feel, that I am misremembering what happened, that I am OVER REACTING to what happened.  I have conversely experienced this about zero times in my relationships with women.  Have you ever noticed the percentage of men who blame their divorce on their ex-wife being “crazy”?  I would guess anecdotally that it hovers around 95%.  Whenever I hear a man say this, I always think to myself, “Well, pal, either you are a piss-poor judge of character or a liar”.  Because at what point did you realize she was “mentally ill”?  Before or after you fathered offspring with her? 
You know what is really offensive?  A woman who has “wants” and “needs” of her own, especially if she is a MOTHER.  Once you have birthed a child you are expected to serve your offspring first, your husband second (unless he leaves you for his secretary, you boring old twat) and in your spare time, you can maybe exercise a little (you fat sow).  A good mother should be attractive, but not too attractive because, what?  Is she on the prowl???  She should be thin, but not too thin (don’t want to raise a kid with an eating disorder!); well-kept but not well-groomed (what good mother has the time and resources to GROOM?) and well-read, in a book-club-meets-once-a-month kind of way (a good mother doesn’t have much time to read).  A good mother does not drink, except on special occasions and if she can hold her liquor than she is obviously a lush and an unfit parent.  A good mother can cook meals from scratch and keep up with the laundry and keep a tidy house but NOT a pristine house because what kid wants to live in a museum?  A good mother only goes out with her husband (once a week max) and her book club (again—once a month is the limit), otherwise she is leaving those kids to raise themselves in the wild, she is just so all about her own pleasure.  The only thing worse than this?  A woman who has the SELFISH AUDACITY to NOT WANT CHILDREN.

A woman needs to keep her husband cared for, interested and happy, but not be a financial burden so should find a job only during school hours so the kids are always the priority.  Women need to remember birthdays, entertain guests, celebrate holidays, volunteer at the school or the church, stay on a budget and not complain because if you do not have a full-time job you are obviously living on easy street and don’t know the meaning of a hard day’s work.  Women better not enlist or become police officers or do any kind of dangerous job once they have given birth because that is SELFISH.  And how many women do you know that are actually meeting all of this criteria, lazy slobs?  Women really are SELFISH, CRAZY  b*tches, don’t you think?  Now re-read this and reverse all genders and see if it makes any sense.  Society has been gaslighting women for centuries, telling us that how we feel and what we want is just not right, NO MATTER WHAT IT IS.  So let’s go ahead and be just a little selfish.  What have we got to lose?

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