A man sits with five working woman- And gets them to talk!
Some may think that I may a bit bias since I am a man, writing about woman outside in the work place.Over the past 20 years I have watched as woman have finally moved up the corporate ladder, moved up the social ladder and moved out of the house. My wife is one of those women. My mother was a stay at home mom until I was a teenager, at which she went to work part time for extra money.
I found myself (the only man) on a covered porch with five very close female friends several months back during a rain storm and nowhere to go. They were all venting about their jobs and having no time for much more. I came to realize that many of the women in this country are not happy with this new landscape. They argued that it was not the masses that wanted this, only a few speaking promoting and committing woman as a whole to their ideal. So I took advantage of their conversation to ask some questions I needed answers too.
I started by asking why they worked? Was it for the money, the power or to get out of the house?
Surprisingly none of them said to get out of the house (a man would have) only one of them needed the additional household income and the others liked the power but it was not the reason either.
“I think my mother was stronger and in more control over all in her day then I am today,” one of my friends explained. Another explained that since her husband was laid off and was unable to secure another job probably because he is a Caucasian male manager, she went out into the market place and had three job offers in the first day, noting that she had not worked since her first child was born 10 years ago, admitting that if it were not for the fact that she had breasts, she probably wouldn’t have had the offers.( I disagreed with her on that point, knowing that she is a very strong willed and creative person.) She added, that she now leaves as the kids go to school and doesn’t return till near their bed time which leaves very little parenting or bonding time with them. Even though her husband has been on several interviews and has enrolled in additional training classes during the day he unfortunately is unable to find work. All but one of the woman are married and besides her they all agreed that they were not the ones that wanted to be working 8-10 hours a day followed my travel time and social networking. They all agreed that it was certainly not how they had planned for their future after they had children. “I was looking forward to being a mom, learning to cook and watching my kids play soccer and dance, ok I don’t miss the housework, even if he doesn’t clean as thoroughly as me,” one of them informed me the others agreed. This lead me into my next question, “if you and your husband work, do you divide up the house hold responsibilities and if he doesn’t work does he do most of the housework, kids and maintenance?” I hit a nerve with two of my friends; they explained that all of these issues were notes of contention with in the home. I personally have the luxury of being home more that my wife since I work out of a home office and have agreed to do many of the chores myself throughout the day, giving me a break of sorts. I explained to them that we don’t keep a score book on who does what; it just needs to get done. Seeing that this topic was somewhat sensitive with them I moved on.
The one that was not married explained that she didn’t completely understand what the big issue was at the beginning of the conversation and by now was starting to think harder about it, I could see it in her eyes.
“We want to have another child,” my wife best friend informed us all, “however I don’t even like leaving early for the kids school activities because I am afraid that the other members of my staff may miss something, so if I was sick or had complications than I would probably be demoted or have to work from home which would be double duty.” The others were very much in agreement with her; they felt like they have be brain washed like men into how important and powerful they are to the company etc.
The lady that wasn’t married is a law enforcement officer; she didn’t have a lot to say only that she didn’t want to have a family or anyone to worry about her because she had seen how it was a distraction to other female officers more than males. She jokily added that she would marry some guy who was on his third marriage when she was 55-60 and become a stepmother to his adult kids. The other ladies felt sorry for her, I on the other hand thought that she was probably doing the best thing and felt sorrier for the other woman.
I figured this was as good a time as any to discuss the household budget, which I know can be a huge topic of contention. Surprisingly enough and I chalk this up to the fact that they are mostly younger than me, the money wasn’t really as big of an issue as I thought it maybe. My wife looked at me and smiled which lead to one of the ladies to flip the table on me. Yes, I admitted that having my wife make significantly more money than me when We agreed that I needed to work out of the house and be there for our son instead of managing our business. When they asked what was the turning point for me before my income grew again, I realized the bills were still being paid, we had money to invest, enjoyed an annual vacation and I got to watch my son grow up quickly.
After the ladies flipped the table on me I thought I would lay down a fun topic, SEX. Does working out side of the home or being the primary wage earner affect your sex life or romance with your husband? They all had talked about this before amongst themselves so they knew what each other were going to say and apparently it does. Shockingly I found out that one of them was thinking of leaving their husband because of this subject and he blames her and she blames him. Planning sex is the biggest inconvenience for two of them, which I would have to agree with as well. The one that talks with her mom all the time said that her mom always was ready for sex as a domestic caretaker and her father never said no, but both her and her husband are plain exhausted by the end of the day to even think about sex, hugs and kisses and maybe a smack on the butt if lucky. The one woman who husband is home more often said that he is often in the mood during the day so they do a little sexting but by the time dinner is over he is down, even if she has a little flirt left in her.
I asked the woman how they felt we got to this place in history and would they do anything different, if so what?
Though they all had their own version of how they felt things got to this state, one common denominator was that they felt that many woman who lobbied for them had agendas bigger than just working in so called man’s job.
“I talked to my mom about this issue several years back when I was in college and we both agreed that a few woman with issues of man bashing and power had bigger pedestals than us and created a mess,” woman with unemployed husband explained. One of the others felt that any (Isis) magical woman powers she was born with had been taken out to the trash the moment she was promoted into a manager’s position, now she said that she feels like just another cog in the machine.
I treaded carefully with my probing, well aware that there were probably many layers of story to be told and as a man I knew that at any moment I could be on the receiving end of this touchy subject. Before I could even ask the next question, one of the women volunteered a story about how women that she knew had learned how to play the game from both sides of the door. “I know several women over the years that use the system to their advantage, not only to succeed but also intimidate their superiors. They are all flirty with the boss or clients and then when the other party responds with flirtation they have them held accountable.” Her friend who spent a few years in the military before having her last child agreed and added that it was worse in the field because the men or boys are extremely lonely and have very little self control. The ladies laughed but agreed that it was ok to use their wild ways outside of the job, where they are suppose to, but on the job they were lowering themselves to a feline level.
My last question rolled back to the beginning again, is there a way that woman can have significant careers as well as be mothers, wives, enchantresses and fee equal? No was the common answer from all the ladies, they all agreed that if they were in careers alongside men and they were held at the same standard then there was no way. Men are to competitive which leads a woman to use what she has in her bag of tricks to win, and saying that I can be a good mother while missing half my children’s events because I have to work is not very nurturing is it, one of the others added. “After having to deal with some real dogs all day it is good to come home and see my family but there are days where going out for a drink after work is a better way to face my husband,” my friend added cautiously. Another lady laughed and said “as long as I can get a manicure, hairstyle and waxing done without anyone bothering me, I can do both.”
Everyone agreed with the single woman though and asked why do they care on the job applications if you male, female, Caucasian, African/American or Latino. That is all politics and it is not going to change the job or the people doing the job in any way shape of form, no matter what certain groups feel about it. As a matter of fact my wife shared that she feels it has segregated even men from woman in some many cases, which they all agreed.
As the sun returned and so did the kids from the house, I don’t know if I ever got the answer that I wanted but maybe there is no way to know how this is all going to play out in the future and maybe we are all going through the motions of a bigger issue to come.
‘The dynamics of the American Family’