nagging: a woman only zone
When I first moved out with my boyfriend (now husband), I’m not going to lie, it was tough. Neither of us was at all prepared for what co-habitation would actually involve. While we had the bills, grocery shopping, and actual running of our day to day lives under control much faster than I ever anticipated, learning to not only live but get along in a one-bedroom apartment together was very difficult.
Though a lot of it did have to do with our age and unwillingness to compromise at first, social attitudes about women in general also served to drive a wedge between us for a while. As I’m sure any girl who reads this knows, women cannot ask for their partner or family or friends to ‘please remember to do this’ like men can. When men say things like ‘please take the recycling out’ or ‘don’t leave the tap on’ it’s a request. But when a woman says something along those lines, it becomes ‘nagging’.
I found myself feeling horribly guilty whenever I did try to tell him the things that were important to me, such as him taking the recycling out every once in a while, to let me know if he was going to be late for dinner, or to please use the blue towels I bought because red doesn’t match our bathroom.
And while the last one does seem maybe a little over the top, I was made to feel so much worse for it because I have a vagina. He also voiced his opinions about things such as where he wanted furniture to go and how he wanted the bed made, but when it came from a guy, it just never seemed like the huge deal that my requests were. And this wasn’t coming from him at all- it was coming from me. I was calling it nagging; I was cringing whenever I heard myself make requests; and I was the one inwardly telling myself to stop overreacting.
There is so much pressure on us to meet the unrealistic expectations of a live-in partner these days: someone who is always fun, has a voracious sexual appetite and likes to play video games in their underwear. While it’s good that societal expectations are drifting away from the old fashioned ‘partner who can cook and clean and present themselves perfectly at all times’, this ideal is just as unrealistic. No one can be fun and easygoing all of the time. Many of us have preferences about the level of uncleanliness that we can tolerate- whether we be male or female. The only difference is the stigma that is put upon females who voice their desires about what they like around the home.
I found myself, what with my voice being quietened by this idea that I didn’t want to be a nagger or a ‘crazy girlfriend’, that I became very passive-aggressive. I would keep quiet about my preferences or the way that I had to take on the majority of the chores, and I would pretend that it was okay for my partner to not tell me he was going to be an hour late when he knew I was cooking dinner. I expected him to read my mind about the things that were bothering me, and I would bottle it up until it just got too much and all of that anger came bursting out.
And I guess, when all of that anger and frustration comes out at once, it does look unreasonable. It does look like an overreaction. So it’s a vicious circle. We are silenced until we can’t stand to be silenced any longer, and then we explode, thus giving the prejudices more fuel.
Society needs to get rid of this idea that when a woman makes a request it is nagging or unreasonable. And that idea is everywhere you look: in advertisements and sitcoms especially.
Because until we do get rid of the sexist notions about wives and live-in partners, women will continue to be silenced, and will continue to ‘overreact’ when they just can’t stay silent any longer.
(Image credit: 1.)