Clickbait title, but I’ll explain:
March is Women’s History Month, aka “Promote Our Women’s Empowerment Initiatives On Social Media Month” in Corporate America. For the record, I am very supportive of women’s empowerment and initiatives that lead to women’s empowerment. However, I find the particular brand of viral corporate women’s empowerment “LinkedInspiration” that gets promoted around social media deeply irritating. There is always a particular aesthetic – young, high-achieving working mom who is incredibly photogenic and photographed in this minimalist aesthetic background, talking about challenges for women in STEM, the importance of family leave and flexible remote work, women in positions of power as having a positive influence on work culture for women, etc.
These are important topics and relevant for many people. But in my case, it feels like someone else’s story. I have a STEM background, but I was in women-dominated classes in a women-dominated college and went into a women-dominated industry, so I have no “male-dominated industry” challenges. For me, remote work is really just a reminder that my home life is weird, fucked up, and not aesthetically pleasing. And that I have no children (a sore subject) to take care of, yet am still less successful than all these working mom execs. I experienced more borderline sexual harassment incidents (all perpetrated by women, btw) while working at the women-dominated company.
My employer runs a campaign highlighting our woman leaders in STEM with a photo and bio. It is a small company; I am not included in the campaign. Objectively speaking, this omission is more likely because I am not photogenic, or because no one understands my role. But it feels like a message that I am not considered a successful woman.
March email campaign: “Our female science leaders!” I’m not included.
I was raised in a home in which girls were told they could do anything. My parents never told us that a profession was off-limits on the basis of gender. They encouraged all of their children of both genders (all genders? Is that the PC term now?) to be financially independent. We were raised not to be dependent on a spouse.
Tax season in April is a rude, yearly reminder that I
- should have prioritized doing taxes sooner and that I have failed at time management,
- am, in fact, dependent on a breadwinner spouse
- have no idea how to do my taxes (I went from my father doing my taxes to my husband doing my taxes and never ever learned to do them myself),
- am basically a walking stereotype.
March-April is also time for the preparation for and celebration of Passover. Passover requires a massive amount of preparation – top to bottom cleaning of home, car, office, anything and everything that could have crumbs. Many of the articles about cleaning for Passover seem to be written for the woman who is overly concerned about going above and beyond the bare minimum halachic (Jewish law) requirements. Of course, this is sexist because the laws of Passover apply to men and women, but the underlying assumption is that women will be shouldering a good portion of the preparation burden because women are seen as the ones who keep a Jewish home running. There are articles about the spiritual beauty of cleaning for Passover.
I am just as incompetent at the traditional “women’s realm” of adulting tasks – eg. cleaning, organizing, cooking, etc. – as I am at the financial literacy adulting task of doing one’s own taxes. While I don’t mind the other traditions of Passover (in fact, I rather enjoy them) and don’t mind the specialized diet at all, I can barely manage to care about the halachic minimum of cleaning, let alone find spiritual meaning. Passover, once a favorite holiday as a child, is a massive source of inadequacy and failure as an adult.
Two stereotypes of women emerged, and I fail at both of them.
I am blessed. My mother is the nicest person in the universe, alive and well (thank G-d!), and in close enough geographic proximity to celebrate with. For this, I am incredibly fortunate and grateful.
I am at the age when most of my friends/peers are being celebrated for being mothers themselves. Their husbands write long, glowing Facebook posts about their superhero wives, who are corporate rockstars, domestic goddesses, gorgeous partners, and incredible mothers and role models to their children.
I am not jealous of the Facebook lovefest exactly; my husband and I both think this usage of Facebook is particularly stupid and he would never do this, even if he actually had a wife that was all of those things. (JYP’s Marriage Tip #19: Don’t waste time writing fucking stupid performative love notes on Facebook to your spouse when you could spend that time actually fucking your spouse. You’re welcome.)
To my Facebook friends: Happy Mother’s Day! Also, go fuck yourself. Thanks!
This “haibun series” (“tri-bun”?), is loosely inspired by Go Dog Go Cafe Haibun Wednesday. This entry is late and not exactly a haibun. Another fail. (No one can say I don’t commit to a theme…)