When I woke up today, I felt good. I woke up knowing that I can do what I want in life. There just might be consequences.
One thing I can do is disregard some of the roles that are placed upon me. As a woman reaching the age of redundancy (i.e. the age where I “absolutely” have to have children) I feel more and more pressure from others to stop dilly dallying and assume my proper roles.
What roles are these?
- Be conventionally attractive.
- Arguably the most important for women, according to society, men and women alike. You can be whatever you want, it’s strongly implied, as long as you’re attractive first. If you don’t assume role 1, your competency in all other areas is immediately challenged, moreso than just by being a woman in the first place.
- Total domestic responsibility.
- I’d like to say that today’s younger men understand they can’t foist all household chores and cooking on women. Perhaps in their conscious mind they think this, but action (or inaction, rather) speaks louder than words. Many young men grow up seeing their mothers do all the chores and cooking, or see their stressed out mothers “nagging” their fathers to help out. So while they casually say,”Yeah, household duties should be shared”, many show their true inclinations by happily living in filth, and eating junk because they haven’t learned how to cook and don’t feel inclined to. They unconsciously transfer these burdens to others who live with them, who won’t live in filth. Of course, #notallmen. #manymen is more accurate.
- Being a good wife/girlfriend/SO.
- Maintaining a relationship isn’t easy. You cannot neglect your partner’s needs.
- Being a good mother/family member.
- Children are a full time job by themselves. I don’t envy parents. The addition of spending time with and supporting other family members (parents, uncles, aunts, etc) is also included in role 4.
- Full time worker.
- Unless you’re already loaded, either by luck of affluent parents or by living with them, people have to work. If they’re lucky, they get a full time job that may or may not pay the bills. If they’re even luckier, they get benefits and health care. Couples with a working husband that makes a great living can often see the woman staying home. Or vice versa. Which is great, I support homemakers. I envy them at times, because the grass is always greener on the other side. But nowadays, most have to work. Including women. In addition to working, they must assume and properly perform roles 1, 2, 3, and 4.
- (Optional) Themselves.
- Arguably the hardest role to attain, given the time restrictions caused by roles 1-5.
So, I’m expected to fulfill all of these roles, with perhaps the exception of role 6. The one I want most to perform. That one seems optional, and simply gets swept by the wayside early on in life. Women are sometimes accused of not being interesting, of not having personalities, and more and more I come to believe it is because they have thrown themselves full-heartedly into the whole set of roles 1-5, which I dub the Golden Cage. Because there are largely not enough hours in the day to cultivate the self if you perform these roles correctly. They’re between a rock and a hard place – either you are a “bad” selfish woman, or you’re a “good”, self-sacrificing woman.
I think I’m learning more and more I don’t have to be a “good” woman. I don’t have to sacrifice myself on the pyre of social pressure. It’s difficult, though, because maybe more than most I feel a need for approval. I simply have to choose – sanity or approval. Maybe some women don’t have to make that choice. Some women choose these roles and find happiness in performing all of them. It must be nice for them. Because I don’t. I don’t feel happy in the Golden Cage. Never have. Never will.
And I won’t stay there.
(To Be Continued)