This Page

has been moved to new address

Equal Rights

Sorry for inconvenience...

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
Reel Mama: Equal Rights

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Equal Rights

Maybe you recall the study that came out a couple of years ago revealing that women rule the roost in marriage. Women yield considerably more influence, it would seem, than in the real world, where the norms of society would suggest that it’s a man’s world, though that seems to be changing.

In a CBS news article discussing the findings, researcher David Vogel, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Iowa State, is quoted as saying, “This study at least suggests that the marriage is a place where women can exert some power. Whether or not it's because of changing societal roles, we don't know. But they are, at least, taking responsibility and power in these relationships.”

The results seemed to surprise the researcher, but they don’t surprise me at all. 

Think of the classic I Love Lucy episodes from the fifties.  Even during this time, when America was full of housewives who met and exceeded incredibly high standards for maintaining a household and raising children, women ruling the roost was shown as a fact of life on I Love Lucy.  In the show, Lucy always finds a way to exert her influence over husband Ricky and ultimately get him to do what she wants.

Of course there were many other shows in the fifties like Father Knows Best, where the kind but firm father figure laid down the law and maintained the order of the family unit, but I think that “I Love Lucy” was so popular from its inception and has endured the test of time because people truly can relate to it, even today.  With a wink and a nod it portrayed married life as it truly is, with the wives somehow always getting their way, and the husbands going along with it because…well, there may be many reasons. One is love.  Many men probably want to maintain a happy marriage and please their wives.  And depending on the relationship there are other reasons I’m sure, some of which could command a Facebook-style “It’s complicated” label.  Even Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s marriage was incredibly complicated in real life, and far less than ideal. 

But in successful marriages, perhaps men are okay with women wearing the pants in marriage because marriage is a refuge for men, a kind of safe haven, the one place where they feel like they don’t have to be in control necessarily.  They feel okay with letting go a little and letting the wife take the wheel (figuratively speaking of course, because in real cars, let’s face it, men hate sitting in the passenger seat).

And so for marriage, it seems it’s best when women wear the pants.  But we also want to wear dresses.  And we also want to believe that chivalry is not dead.

Herein lies feminism’s greatest conundrum, as portrayed in the Lucy episode “Equal Rights.”  We as women want equal rights.  Indeed surveys are now indicating that in the workplace currently there are more women than men (see New York Times article As Layoffs Surge, Women May Pass Men in Job Force).  I want every workplace right imaginable (especially when it comes to maternity).  I want passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.  I want the fact that women make 77 cents for every dollar men earn to be a thing of the past.  And I also get mad when a man lets a door slam in my face.  I was so mad I couldn’t see straight at the men (especially the young ones listening to their iPods) who didn’t give up their seat on the commuter bus when I was almost nine months pregnant holding onto a leather strap as we careened toward downtown LA. 

Maybe I shouldn’t focus so much on the men in these situations.  Maybe it’s a problem of general rudeness: a woman could have just as easily given up her seat, and I would have been just as grateful.

Nevertheless, I think Blanche Devereux of the Golden Girls got it right, when trying to explain to the new feminism to her confused date:  “I don't want to be treated as your equal...I want to be treated much better than you!”

I can live with that.  Now how do we get that into an amendment?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home