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Stay-at-Home Panda

Stay-at-Home Panda

An adventure of triumphs and troubles as a mother, wife, and woman

Male Privilege in My Home

The other night my husband was graciously holding our fussy baby while I cooked dinner, and things were going great until he told me he had to use the bathroom. I shrugged my shoulders and assured him the baby always accompanies me. He looked at me like I was crazy, and that’s when I realized: males really do get the privilege in this world.

In the workforce, they’re more likely to get promoted, earn higher pay, and less likely to be sexually harassed. I’m not in the workforce anymore, but a form of male privilege is alive and strong in my own home.

You see, when I use the bathroom, I usually have company. If my little ones aren’t actually in the loo with me, they’re calling for me from beyond the door. But my husband expects (and usually gets) privacy. Isn’t that crazy?

When I grew up, we didn’t have bathroom boundaries, so it’s kind of hard for me to respect them. The other day, when Josh had the bathroom door shut, I barged in anyway. I startled him as he was getting out of the shower, and he snapped, “How about some privacy?” I balked, exhausted from a morning of clinging kids, “That’s a luxury around here!” Besides my interruptions, Daddy showers and shits in peace, which are things I only do at Nana’s and Papa’s house.

In that same day I got another taste of this phenomenon. My husband told me he wanted to make a phone call, to catch up with a med school buddy. He then proceeded to walk outside, and pace around the front yard while giving his friend undivided attention. He didn’t yell at the kids (but also in his friend’s ear). He didn’t have to pretend to pay attention to the conversation, while really trying to figure our if the baby is chewing something edible or not. He didn’t get off the phone because the children were asking him a million questions and pulling on his limbs. Nope, he just had a pleasant, normal conversation. When he came inside, the kids were in bed. Daddy for the win!

On the weekends he likes to watch football. I love it too- not so much the actual games, but the sitting around as a family, enjoying our home and each other, and not hassling over getting kids into and out of car seats and strollers. However, my husband is actually able to plant himself in the recliner. I tried to do what he does a few weeks ago. I thought, “Alright, let me do this Daddy-style.” I spread my legs out on the couch and ignored every household chore that sought my attention. In no time, our three-year-old was pouncing on me. When I told him I didn’t want to be jumped on, he started asking for something to drink. I told him to wait, and he took my arm and tried to pull me into the kitchen. I always feel pulled to the kitchen, except not always so literally. The sight of me relaxing is like an invitation for demands. But Daddy? Nah, leave him alone. He’s watching football.

My football-watching man isn’t afraid to get his ass in the kitchen. He’s damn good at whipping up some eggs, and one time, even made an Indian-inspired dish. Whatever he makes is always tasty, due to the deliciousness of bacon grease and his efforts. But, his kitchen experience is very different from mine. I can be found stirring sauces or flipping burgers with my left hand, while keeping the baby perched on my right hip. When the kids aren’t actually on me, they’re making messes by my feet and most likely, a few requests. When Daddy is cooking, that shit doesn’t fly- he expects space, and of course he gets it, because the kids are busy pestering me.

It’s so unfair that I sometimes want to flip my man the bird as hard as I can, but I know getting upset at him is pointless. How can I blame him for seeking a little balance and sanity? Being attentive to the needs of others is a beautiful thing, but I can’t let it come at the cost of my own. The difficulty is balancing the two, and instead of getting mad at my husband for somehow finding time to pick his face in the bathroom mirror, I’m going to follow his lead. Privacy and solo time aren’t male needs, but human ones, and it’s up to me to draw boundaries, ask for help, honor myself, and show others how to honor me, too. After all, that’s exactly what my husband does, and it makes him privileged indeed.

Copyright Amanda Elder, 2015, Originally Published at BonBon Break

About Amanda Elder

Amanda has a background in education, but now spends most of her time snuggling her kids, wiping their butts, and doing house chores in her underwear.

2 Comments

  • Rika says:

    I was really thrown by this statement: ‘Part of the beauty of a woman is her attentiveness to the needs of others.’ As opposed to a man?

    I would restate this as: ‘Part of the beauty of [a person with a servant-heart] is [his/her] attentiveness to the needs of others.’

    I’m not sure if you intended to, but it seems like you imply women have a greater capacity to sense the needs of others. I would think anyone staying home and raising kids 24/7 would have the same experience as you with their spouse, whether as a stay-at-home mom or dad. Perhaps girls are conditioned to give more of this kind of attention as they grow up surrounded by traditional gender roles and stereotypes. Maybe a ‘maternal instinct’ is in play? What is your perspective?

    Thank you for your thought-provoking article!

    • Amanda Elder says:

      Hey Rika! Thank you for reading and commenting. You bring up something very interesting. I grew up with a mother who was the caretaker of all, always putting everyone’s needs ahead of her own. As a stay-at-home mom I also find myself doing this too, but I definitely don’t think it’s necessarily a gender thing. I write from my own experiences, so although I do see many women who seem wired (or trained, or a combo) to tend to the needs of others, I don’t think a man’s capacity to sense the needs of others is necessarily less. I think we express caring and giving in a multitude of ways, many of which our shaped by the roles we take on. I’d say this piece was mostly a reflection on the traditional gender roles alive in my home, and of course there are exceptions. You’re absolutely correct that restating it as “a person with a servant heart” would be more appropriate as this isn’t limited to females. Thank you for the perspective and provoking more thought.

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