How Will You Find a Husband?

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had my mother, father, grandparents, and pretty much everyone in my life tell me that I need to learn how to cook. They told me to help them cook dinner, set the table in a proper manner, and clean up after the meal. Since I was young, I didn’t really have a choice but to do everything they said. However, I did everything with an eyeroll and a sigh of boredom. After a few family dinners of me stirring pots and placing plates strategically on the table, I noticed that my older brother Jordan didn’t have to help out at all. He was always just sitting with my dad and grandfather watching whatever was on TV while the women of the family worked away in the kitchen. Every now and then I would be sent to my dad to ask him to reach something from a high shelf, but other than that he didn’t do much to help make the dinner he was about to eat. I didn’t catch onto this for a few years, until I finally asked my mom why Jordan never had to help. Her response has stuck with me since I heard the words come out of her mouth: “Because he’s a boy, and you’re a girl. He does the boy things, and you do the girl things.”

That answer didn’t sit well with me. I remember being annoyed, and confused. I didn’t understand why cooking and cleaning were girl things, and what even qualified as boy things. From what I could tell, being a boy meant sitting on the couch until a female voice called out, “Dinner!” Then you moved over to the table. When I questioned her, my mom told me that Jordan would mow the lawn and shovel the snow when he was old enough, but right now I need to learn how to cook so I can feed my future husband and kids. Just writing this right now makes me want to call my mom and play her ***Flawless by Beyonce. Before, when I was told to help make dinner, I would blindly oblige and do whatever I was told to do. But now that I knew that I was being told to do so in order to feed the hypothetical future family I didn’t even want, there was no way I was partaking in that. Since then, the idea of being a mom-in-training irked me to my very core. Every time someone in my family suggested that I wouldn’t be able to find a husband without the ability of following a recipe, I shrugged and said that I would live a single life in a big home with a chef preparing my meals for me.

Now that I’m older, and understand how the world works better, I severely question the motive behind telling me that my role as a female is to clean the house, do the laundry, and make the meals. They never once told me that I need to learn to cook and clean so that I can be a functioning adult. No, they decided the best motivation would be telling me that if I don’t learn now, I will never find a man to marry me. The role of a woman in a household has changed drastically since my parents were kids. Back then, the mom made sure she had a drink ready for her husband when he finished work, and dinner was a mere 15 minutes away. I understand that this is how they were raised, and the ideas in their heads are ones that have been explicitly laid out to them for ever since they were young. But it shocks me that anyone would want to relay this message to young girls in today’s day and age. And it’s not just my family (I hope not, at least). Look at what toys are marketed to girls and what is marketed to boys: boys get monster trucks and remote control helicopters; girls get plastic kitchens and fake ovens.

 

From such a young age, girls are being told to get into the kitchen, learn how to cook, and get ready for a life of preparing meals for your husband and kids. But it’s time to show them that it’s okay to not like cooking, or not want a husband, or to be their own independent girl and woman instead of someone’s unpaid chef. We need our girls to realize that they are more than their gender, their race, their weight, and their ability to throw together a meal. They are a human being with an exponential amount of potential bursting at the seam. Raise the girls to know that they will find happiness, success, and love even if they can just barely make Kraft Dinner without burning it.

Hannah Schaffrath is a first year Public Relations student studying at Humber College in Toronto.

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“Feminist” is not a bad word

There’s a weird paradox in many people when it comes to believing in something. On one hand, we whole-heartedly reaffirm and reiterate the points and opinions of the people who agree with us. We excitedly nod and say “God, yes,” all the while brimming with anticipation to share our own views with those who see it our way.

On the other hand, when among a crowd that thinks differently, it’s not such a fun time. Depending on how they are, you might just want to avoid stupid conflict. You might care immensely about what they think of you. Or, the word you use to identify with your cause might have been tarnished by misguided zealots. Thanks a lot.

Here’s where that final scenario applies: feminism, the asinine, deplorable belief that two genders should be treated equally by all and have a mutual respect for one another. Ha! Crazy.

Negative portrayals of feminism have run rampant through society for a very long time. Change scares people, and those who are comfy in the seat they’re in don’t want to consider other ideals. The opposition works tirelessly to smear this reputation so they can continue to stagnate in their beliefs.

But of course, it’s not some good against evil battle. This is real life, and there are plenty of reasons why the word “feminism” can automatically rub someone the wrong way. Sometimes people are just plain intimidated by a cause. It becomes a delicate balance, and the way one should teach someone about a cause should mirror the way everything is taught: start off small. You don’t teach math by jumping straight into quadratics. Sell ideals by telling the audience how they benefit from this. However, becoming frustrated when someone doesn’t immediately see what you’re seeing is a dangerously easy ditch to fall into.

These things and others all add up to the widely-held belief that feminists are all man-hating bra-burning lesbians. That’s become the go-to image for the apathetic citizen, and that’s the image that people against feminism want them to see.

Because of this, some people look around the room really quick before informing you they believe in gender equality. Being firm in your belief, yet having to hastily explain yourself is no way to be. Worse still, people will publicly announce they support all items present on the feminist agenda, and then claim not to be a feminist. Yeah, okay buddy. You live on earth and require oxygen and all that, but you’re not like, a carbon based lifeform or anything.

I’ve been through this. I had a (shamefully lengthy) point in time where I believed we were treated completely equally, and that women who complained about it were just whiny uptight girls. See that? See how that stereotype was a reality to me? Don’t do societies, kids.

Yes, I thought catcalls were compliments and that there was absolutely nothing wrong and that gender issues magically based themselves on nothing, I guess. I know why people have these ideas. While it sure is easy for me to point at nothing and exclaim “SOCIETY’S FAULT!” we have to remember that we are society. It does not exist without us. There are people behind these negative statements and detrimental ideas, so many real living people who have to worry about family and who love their pets and really would just like some time to relax. They’re not evil, they just don’t know or don’t care. That’s what they were raised on. David Wong, executive editor of Cracked, writes that “Nobody involved in a conflict thinks they’re the villain,” and the things David Wong writes are the realest things I’ve ever read. This idea is no different.

So, y’know, we are the future, break this terrible cycle, etc. You’ve heard these motivational go-get ’em things before. While being the change is a very nice thing to aspire to, it’s ultimately just your goal. Thats like motivating someone to climb Everest with “Get to the top!” That’s the idea, but like, rationing and climbing equipment and stuff.

It has to start with acceptance. You’re not supporting your cause if you don’t say it audibly and confidently. Being okay with yourself and this thing together is step one, and there is no physical way to skip step one.

So have you taken that first step yet? Do you have glorious ideas about how to shape the world for the better? Still too nervous to admit it to others? That’s okay if you are, though. I was too.

Tabitha Summerhayes is a full-time PR student at Humber College.