Since the last time I visited the Hirshhorn Museum in D.C. a few years ago, which was the first time I’d been since I was maybe seven years old, one work of art has remained fixated in my mind and left within me a lasting, emotional impression.
Big Man, by Ron Mueck, is a larger-than-life sculpture of a round, hunched, naked, scowling man. In person, I found him to be breathtaking. He bears a look of tired frustration across his brow and jaw, and fleshy curves across his abdomen. His skin is wrinkled, dimpled, and splotched.
The “second shift” is alive and well, unfortunately. This post hits the nail on the head about common in-home gender dynamics for chore-splitting and about marketing for these burdens falling exclusively around the necks of women.
Tammy Wynette had it right: Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. Especially when it comes to domestic labor. Tons has been written about how women, after coming home from paid work outside the home, commence “the second shift” in which they cook, clean, do childcare, and manage household needs. And despite the fact that the women’s movement is easily more than 40 years old, this situation is still pervasive. In the New Republic, Jessica Grose tells her own rather typical story:
“When it comes to housecleaning, my basically modern, egalitarian marriage starts looking more like the backdrop to an Updike short story. My husband and I both work. We split midnight baby feedings. My husband would tell you that he does his fair share of the housework, but if pressed, he will admit that he’s never cleaned the bathroom, that I do the dishes nine times out of ten…
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words could definitely kill me. As a communications major, this is the saying that I go by. Words hurt, worse than any kind of physical pain I have ever felt.
“Wow, I bet you can really throw her around.” –An actual statement that was said to my ex-boyfriend by one of his friends. I was sitting right there. What did I say? Nothing. I said nothing. I was so shocked that he could even say something like that upon first meeting me and I felt so awkward, uncomfortable and self-conscious that I couldn’t even formulate a comeback. This is something I have had to deal with countless times since. I decided to compile a few of the many comments I’ve gotten over the years into a list so I can expose this phenomenon.
Would you rather be a whale or a mermaid? When searching through my Facebook newsfeed I saw a post of a naked woman that asked that question. I never thought this question would have been used to try and “motivate” women to work out, but sure enough, a gym posted this sign that had a picture of a beautiful woman on it and asked “This Summer, Would you rather be a mermaid or a whale?” If we are getting technical, I would rather be a human but take a look at what this one woman had to say in response…
Amen. We’re largely products of our environments. If you grow up hearing how much your parents, siblings, relatives, and friends hate their bodies, it’s only a matter of time until you start finding “problems” with yours. Start your younger loved ones with a solid foundation in a better direction. It’s never too late to set a good stage.