This past Sunday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day and that makes it a great day to honor.
International Women’s Day is a global day of celebration for the achievements of women in all areas of life, including social, economic, cultural, and political. And a big hell yeah to celebrating the achievements of women, in art, in the workplace. In the trenches keeping our country safe. In politics, in medicine. And of course in the home as leaders and co-leaders of our families.
But this is more than a celebration day – it’s a call to action for accelerating gender equality.
And that’s the theme of 2020’s International Women’s Day – Each for Equal. Through this initiative, we’re working on building a gender-equal world by celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias, and taking action for equality.
And I was thinking about this and what it means to build a gender-equal world and how the Each for Equal theme applies to my own life as a woman and a mother and a partner.
And I realized that if we want to be equal out in the world, outside of the home, then we must strive for the same on the INSIDE of the home.
And that got me thinking about equality and what that means to me, especially in my most important partnership, my most important relationship (besides my relationship with myself), and that’s my relationship with my husband and best friend, Charlie.
And I wondered, are we, Charlie and I, are we modeling gender equality in our home and for our kids?
In most ways, our partnership feels equal. Emotionally, we support one another. We’ve learned that we express our emotions and handle our challenges in different ways, but we’ve come to understand that and make space for each other to be able to do so.
We support each other intellectually. We’re life partners, both in parenting and in business. And that challenge requires that we equally respect each other’s ideas and opinions. We don’t always agree, but we ALWAYS strive to listen and consider each other’s thoughts so that we each feel respected.
Our son doesn’t see Charlie mansplaining to me and our daughter hasn’t had to witness a belittling of thoughts or opinions because they come from a woman.
We also support equality sexually. There is no orgasm gap in our relationship (the orgasm gap refers to the fact that in heterosexual encounters, men have more orgasms than women, which severely pains me!).
I can say without a doubt that we make each other’s pleasure an equal priority.
And that this sense of pleasure, of knowing that one’s partner feels that your pleasure is just as important as their own, well, this works to spread joy, calm, and connection across all of the areas of our relationship.
And I understand that not every woman is in my shoes. And that my experience is not like every woman’s. And I know there are so many ways in which we need to continue the fight for equality.
Women are underrepresented in our government. We make less money than our male counterparts. We still shoulder more of the household burden. We are more likely to live below the poverty line than men. We need more maternal leave in this country and more support for mothers returning to the workforce, whether it’s when the baby turns six weeks old, six years old, or 16.
And there are many ways we, as women, can affect change. We can vote. We can support companies that defend our values. We can speak up and demand that our voices be heard.
But we must also affect change in our OWN HOMES. We set the stage and demonstrate what gender equality looks like for our children.
And that, my friends, is how we really make a real difference and maybe even change the world.
So how do you do that? How do you model gender equality at home? Here are just a few ways.
Focus Less on a Division of Labor and More on Being Fulfilled
Let’s be real for a moment. Is my husband going to load and empty the dishwasher exactly 50% of the time? No way. Am I going to take on the home insurance and get the roof fixed and negotiating the car lease? Nope, I’d rather leave that up to him.
Instead, we work TOGETHER, each doing our own part to keep our family life running smoothly so that BOTH OF US feel successful, fulfilled, and not burdened by the routine chores of life.
It’s recognizing that we have a JOINT RESPONSIBILITY to do these things and there are some things I may do more of and some things that he does more of, but in the end, we’re both doing our fair share and neither of us feels neglected, overworked, overburdened, or resentful.
And I know that for some of you, this isn’t the situation. Perhaps your partner grew up in a house when mom did everything and when you ask for help, it turns into an argument. And now the resentment’s building, and just… UGH!!
Breathe, mama, and know that your partner wants you to be happy and probably doesn’t even know that you’re frustrated about these things and that they’re NOT pitching in enough. So you need to communicate this to them in a way that they understand. Check out my post, How to Get Your Needs Met: Clarify Your Roles and learn to ask your partner for what you need.
Find What You Do Best and Value the Other’s Contributions
So there are things that I’m good at and there are things that Charlie is good at.
The fact is, I load the dishes better than Charlie (omg, he’s absolutely horrible at this!!) and Charlie is way better at negotiating than me. So most of the time, I’m okay with me doing a little more dishes and him doing a little more negotiating. (And I know this is a very cliche example, but it’s also a very real one when it comes to the inner workings of our household operation!).
But that doesn’t mean you make yourself a martyr. Your partner will get better at household chores and child care, if you continue to ask for the help you need. And with that, you need to learn to let go and accept the way he does things… which means being okay with the fact that the towels may not be folded to your standard. It’s okay. The towels are folded. And YOU didn’t have to do it. That’s what counts.
In addition to you both embracing your personal strengths, make sure you actively appreciate each other’s contributions.
Now, that’s not about being grateful simply for their help, but it’s recognizing a job well done.
Imagine what it would look like if more male CEOs publicly praised their female counterparts?
How would that change the face of corporate America?
Or if more male athletes spoke out against the wage gap in the sports world? Do you think it would last as long?
We need to support each other that same way. So it’s not belittling one another for not doing something the right way, but thanking each other and talking about how we appreciate one another and what we each bring to the relationship.
Because it doesn’t matter what you tell your kids, it’s what you show them.
They learn from watching you and your partner interact and if you’re not building each other up, supporting each other, working together, and speaking kind words, then that’s what they learn.
But if they see you having conversations with respect and dignity, if they see you treating each other as equals and giving praise where praise is due, then they learn that it’s not the gender that defines a person, but their actions.
Make Decisions, Especially Financial Ones, Together
Another way to demonstrate equality in the home is through decision making. For instance, although Charlie takes care of the nitty-gritty day-to-day finances for our family, we make all big financial decisions together.
Now, I’m not going to lie, there have been times when I wanted nothing to do with the finances, primarily after we had kids and my mommy mind was at max-capacity. So I passed off that responsibility. You handle it. You know more about money than I do. You’re smarter at “those things.” I don’t want to know about the hard stuff.
But then, as the years went by, I realized I disempowered myself by taking this approach.
I subscribed to outdated patterns that the husband handles the money while the wife handles the kids. And I really didn’t like how it made me feel, because eventually, I began to feel an imbalance of power. I took on this sense of “having to ask” to spend money that I was helping to earn through our business, Booty Parlor.
I hated how this made me feel.
Unequal and outdated. I had to take a hard look at the fact that I CHOSE to give up my power in this particular area of our relationship.
It took some hard conversations and a willingness to pull up my big girl panties and start looking at the numbers again to recalibrate the sense of equality in our relationship. But I did it. And it was a great lesson in remembering that I can do things I’d convinced myself were hard since I’d had kids, thus balancing out our relationship.
So here’s the thing, mama. Building an equal world is a great plan. But, at it’s core, it doesn’t start on the streets or in the boardroom or even in a court of law.
It starts at home. In what we’re teaching our children. Not in what we say, but in what we do. And how we interact with one another. How we love and how we manifest equality in our own relationships.
Whew. Some deep stuff today.
I’d love to know what you think about this idea of equality in the relationship and how you’re bringing it into your own partnership, so tell me in the comments!
PS: You see what I’m doing in the photo above?
It’s the #EachforEqual pose.
So put your arms out front and strike the #EachforEqual pose to motivate others and to make International Women's Day meaningful for you. Share it on social with the hashtags #IWD2020 and #EachforEqual.
Do what you can to truly make a positive difference for women everywhere.