I am an individual that loves to see and understand other perspectives. For a long time, I was a devoted feminist. I stated in another blog that “I used to be a lot of things.” Here we are again. When I was devoted to my fellow women and their struggles, I didn’t quite understand the plights that men have. One day, I finally broke down and watched the documentary “The Red Pill” with an open mind. Feminist’s still scream at the mention of any support toward that documentary, but I don’t want to talk about feminist problems or feminism. That is a whole nother ball game, so I’ll save it for another time. The only thing I want to say here about feminism, is that as a single parent I have to step out of my gender role quite often, and what a husband or boyfriend would usually be doing for me I do for myself. I have to be firm and hard when doing business, I do most of the maintenance of my own car, and tell dad jokes with the best of them for the kids. As a single parent I am forced to step out side of my gender role, and it has opened my eyes a little bit to some of the things that men deal with.
Once, I remember asking my husband when I was married to “hurry up and fix the brakes on the car.” He had bought the parts and was going to do it on his own in the drive way to help save money on taking it to a mechanic. Imagine my annoyance when he left grease all over the cupboards and faucets when I have already cleaned them. I used to stay in my nice boxy gender role and cook, clean, take care of kids, etc, in another lifetime. A decade later, I stood in the front yard of my apartment complex, in the same predicament. I was pulling the radiator out of my car with a whole bunch of male onlookers. They had already asked me if I needed help, but I remember how scary it was underneath the car when I jacked it up so that I could access the radiator hose. I don’t really think I’ll forget the shock on their faces when I had finally managed to pull the whole thing out after some time trying to finagle it around and out to replace it. I’m 5’5, wearing pink mechanic gloves, and have a shiny pink tool-box, with all pink and purple tools. I’ve even been hoping to save up for an electric torque wrench that comes with a pink clip on cover. I usually tell people I love my pink tools, and the reason I like having them around is because the boys never steal them. Some would even comment that the strength of the pink tools isn’t all that great because they aren’t a big-name brand or have warranty, but they suit me, and I haven’t broken one yet. Another time, I was so afraid replacing my fuel pump, I was seriously worried that I had switched the lines by accident as I shuffled through the photos that I took before searching for any markings that would indicate which line was intake and outtake before I started my car. I was so worried that I would ruin the car if I had accidentally switched the lines. Thank goodness for Dad’s though. Mechanics and Vehicle maintenance is a common male dominated task and profession. There wasn’t really a lot I could do. I needed a car badly and didn’t have the money to send it to a mechanic, so with a lot of reading and some help from Dad I managed to learn to fix a few things. I can proudly say that I do it “all.” As a mother. Now that my daughter is old enough, I take her out to learn things about the car. Just the other day we added some oil to the engine, and I even let her pour it in there. None the less, I have a new respect for guys living under a car. It’s scary laying under a car wondering if it might fall and crush you while you are under it. So while I pat myself on the back and make Rosie proud:
While working on my own car is just a good example to demonstrate how men do put up with a lot more danger and get paid more money for doing those jobs, that is not the main example I would like to give here. This is just my own experience in trying to understand what men go through, from a woman’s perspective.
I want to talk about a friend of mine who came to me about her woes with an ex-wife. I won’t mention names, so I’ll call the Jack and Diane. Diane is a good friend of mine that I went to school with. We lost touch for quite some time, but then later we paired back up and as she had some problems with her health, and I had been experiencing anxiety, we would just chill out together on days when there was nothing to do. I remember hanging out in the car and telling her “Look, I have to stop right now and drink this (calming herbal drink) because I am getting anxiety and I am starting to shake.” We were on the way to get some breakfast, and it was the sweetest thing for 2 women to be supporting each other in their hard times. Years later we were of course, still good friends. I had moved out of state by then and hadn’t seen her for a while, but she was venting to me about her husband’s ex-wife. She just got married! I was so excited and happy for her! But the ex-wife was pesky and the children were being horrible since their matrimony. What a way to spend the first year of your marriage. After talking to her for a while and learning about her child support situation I advised her to go to an attorney immediately. Back in the day I had done enough advocacy work, and political research back in college, to know that they were being taken advantage greatly by the mother of the children. So when I had heard that her husband had lost his business to child support payments, and that she feared one of the children wasn’t even his, I told her “girl it’s better to pay an attorney than to pay that nasty woman.” She was a horrible woman, undermining everything about the father, speaking badly of Diane in front of his kids. She was making a fuss of every effort that Diane was putting in to be a good step mom and doing everything in her power to take advantage of jack. I did my best to explain to her why she was taken advantage of and looked at some of the specific laws in her state regarding child support payments. I told her “Look, I am not an attorney and I can’t help you, but this is what the law says, and there is no need for you to be paying that amount of money.” They were paying child support in the amount that was ruled on when Jack had his business, before he had even met Diane – over $2000 per month for child support payments. It was putting them both in the poor house, and she was very worried about their own lively hood and they were having a lot of trouble making ends meet with the amount of money he was having to keep up with. It was a very un-ethical amount of money for him to pay, since he lost his business and was no longer earning the same amount of money he had when he had it, working an hourly job. That was my first concern for her, because there was absolutely no reason for them to be left homeless to pay child support payments. Then, she did go out and get an attorney and it was a harrowing case. I followed it with her, reassuring her that her attorney was doing good work for her and wanted to help them win their child support modification, and that I know it’s hard now to pay the attorney, but it’s still better to pay for the attorney than to just fork over their earnings to the mother, who was being very difficult and ugly about things. This is a man who wanted to take care of his kids, and who did his best to make his child support payments and to do his best to be a good father for those kids. So I was very hopeful and positive about them winning their case, and just hoped she would stick with it, and let the law speak for itself. When the case was coming to a close, my friend sent me a copy of another child support case that had been filed with her first husband (not Jack), and it really was beginning to look like fraud, given that we had left the part about the children “not being his” in the dust and were mainly working toward getting those payments lowered. So, I told her to just give it to her attorney, and if she is really that concerned, she can ask for a DNA test. I am not sure if she spoke with the lawyer about it, but the case dredged on. Later, at the end of the case, just before the final ruling the mother came back with a complaint about Diane using a home DNA test kit to test the kids during one of their visits. Now, that wasn’t really the best thing for her to do, without the advisement of her attorney, but they did find out that the child didn’t even belong to Jack. This man had been paying and had lost a business to child support for a child that didn’t even belong to him. I swear this was one of the most messed up cases that I have ever followed. That was certainly not fair to him at all, and certainly not good.
I can’t really say enough that I am a feminist, but men have in their own right, their own unique set of problems too. We still have a lot of work to do in the rest of the world with feminism, but I thoroughly understand what men go through, and hope that more women begin to understand what true equality means, and maybe getting’ down on their car, taking initiative to learn about some things, and maybe offering more support and throwing some extra love that way, when the men do all the scary shit for us. We can’t forget it’s not us against them, we are partners, not enemies.