“Wendy is 39, married with three children under 12. She is a GP at a medical practice near her home. She would like to work three days a week but her husband – also a medico – appreciates her talents and the extra income she can bring in. Wendy is torn between wanting to be a good mother, provide a stable home for her family, with the desire to do well professionally. She appreciates the benefits but also feels the pressure of earning more money. She currently works four, sometimes five, days a week. She is constantly exhausted, has little time for her own interests like going to the gym, seeing friends, or playing tennis, and feels guilty that her mothering role is constantly diminished by long work hours and emotional stress.”
Wendy is exactly the kind of female the 1970’s women’s movement hoped would become a 21st Century prototype: well-educated, equal opportunities with men throughout academic and work life – including equal pay – and a chance to partner, create a cosy domestic environment, and have children.
The catch cry “we can have it all” has come true for many women today. The question now is do they want to have it all at the same time?
Forty years on, females like Wendy are exhausted, stressed, unhappy and disconnected from their feminine selves. And usually they do not have any spare time to reconnect with that traditional female pre-feminist revolution side.
Yes, in 2014 women are equal. It was hard fought but it’s over and we should celebrate. But we’re not because we’re too tired — we’re exhausted because are not getting enough help or support in our lives. What in the world went wrong?
Sadly, the fight has come at a very high price. For most women today, it actually means much more work, a lot less balance in their lives, forsaking the femininity, and to top it off, they still have to protect the fragile male ego of their partners.
Take John and Alana for example. The couple met at work at a prestigious law firm. They were equally successful but then suddenly Alana won a very difficult case and her career skyrocketed and John got left behind. It was never Alana’s intention to be the major breadwinner, but her earning capacity reflected her talent.
Instead of feeling resentful, John began to enjoy his world at home; more time for golf and for working out.
When the children arrived, John got to stay home. Turned out he was good at being the homemaker and Alana found herself lost in the shuffle: still enjoying her career, but really wanting to be at home with her children and still wanting to feel like she was the feminine person in the relationship.
This setup was not going to work for Alana and John in the long run, and before long, sure enough — the cracks appeared. Resentments grew.
The fact that John had taken to his new role as a duck to water and he never looked back. But he still wanted the kudos of being ‘the man’ in the relationship.
So whenever they went out as a family or for dinner with friends, he paid for everything from their joint account. Their mutual friends thought that he earned his own money that he consulted from home.
At first, Alana did not have a problem with protecting John’s masculinity in this way. But with each passing year, she found herself growing ever more disgruntled at his inability to protect her femininity. She felt well and completely “male” in her busy life as protector and provider for the family, and it was heartbreaking that he didn’t notice or seem to care. Her discontent grew like a tumor slowly but ever so surely. Alana was missing her inner feminine self and it was screaming within her to be heard.
Finally, she could not silence her feminine self. She lashed out at John at how sick she was of his fragile ego and his inability to “man up” and understand what she needed as a woman. She wanted to be a true woman who had a healthy feminine side, but he held all the feminine space in the household. The only role left for her was the masculine side, and she was desperately tired of shouldering all that pressure on her own.
Is this the equality that women have had to fight so hard for, only to have a certain kind of man use the woman’s capability as an excuse to wimp out of his own responsibilities as a man?
I think there are a whole group of men like John who have seen women’s equality as the ideal opportunity for them to willingly abdicate their manhood. Why go out to work to provide for their family or meet the needs of their wife if they don’t have to? Life is grand!
But that’s only good till her life implodes. When she can’t take it any longer, the marriage will be over, another family shattered.
It could have been different, but it takes a real man to step up and to man up even when he finds himself as either the secondary earner or the main caregiver. He is still a man and he can still be a protective husband.
In the new world order more women will take on the role of primary breadwinner. But the feminine role they play in the relationship still needs to be honored. Her partner must make major efforts to show her that she is an appreciated feminine person. There is no place for over inflated egos in reversed partnerships. This kind of partnership requires immense maturity by both parties.
Equally women in this reversed situation need to work harder to acknowledge their partners masculinity rather than emasculate him even further with her masculine abilities.
This can be achieved but both men and women in reversed relationships have to have a conscious awareness of her need to ‘feel’ feminine and his need to ‘be’ masculine.
Relaxing into the opposite internal gender to your physical vehicle is lazy and unsustainable in the long term.