Monday, May 13, 2019

Focus on Mental Health - pt. 11 - The Female Burden

     What makes up the female burden?  In a society where we should have stepped over this unfair system of gender inequality, the current presidency has really made it obvious that we're far from being unequally burdened by our gender roles.
     I could probably turn blue talking about how white male stereotypes are not even close to being broken, although there's definitely a push toward this goal; we've also found a sudden pushback because of this feel that many males (and many females, quite honestly) think that there shouldn't be equality.  And I could go on for hours about how men and women don't get equal pay for equal work, and I've already talked a bit about it in the past, but what I'm really here today for is something that I've been feeling about myself this past month, and that is the inability for most women (including myself) to get out from this shadow that we're under, especially when it comes to careers, housework, making money, and making lives for ourselves.

     Let me explain.

     It's been a month since I've been without a job.  I'd worked in retail for very nearly 20 years and had worked my way up until I almost had my own store to run, twice, but each time that I had gotten close to being able to take that next step, something stopped me. And eventually that holding pattern of not taking that next step made it so I was easily crushed (let's just say women who are determined can be just as cut-throat and nasty as men and will easily step on anyone in their way).  But because of my honest nature, I've really never managed to break out of that holding pattern and get to that next step in my life.
     And just why is that?  I guess it's because that ladder-climbing mindset means climbing over some people and stepping on fingers and kicking people off the ladder (I rather like this mental picture as I feel that's what happened to me, I stayed under someone too long and they got tired of me looking up their skirt or something and just shoved me off!) and I just have never felt good about being that person.  Of course, I've worked with plenty of them in the past and know exactly how to do it, but let's just say that I don't want to go to heaven one day and have a list of the people I sacrificed in order to get where I was... or rather not going up, but down to hell because of all of that.
     Let's just say there are probably plenty of women who didn't have to be cutthroat and probably got where they were going without the evil, and I'd really like to work for one of those women someday because I think that's the boss more of us need in our lives.  That's the kind of person that children should be able to work for so they too can dream about being kind bosses and knowing what it's like to get there on your own without having to step on people along the way.  It's honesty and integrity and America just doesn't see those things as virtues any more.
     There are probably just as many people out there who will throw you under the bus rather than ever give you a second glance, and for those people, I just want to say "SCREW YOU" because YOU are what's making this country a terrible place to live in right now!

     How in the world does this pertain to be the female burden?

     I'm getting to it.

     I'd say 90% of women are raised with a set of values: find a job, marry, have kids, take care of the household, and do it all with graciousness, a smile on your face, and don't be a damn burden on anyone because if you are then you are to blame here.  You didn't do your job right.  You didn't do what your husband wanted, or you didn't make enough money or raise your kids correctly.
     Maybe you that is reading this right now are one of the lucky 10% out there with parents who taught you how the world really works.  Maybe you learned it on your own once you were in college.  Maybe you decided that your life was more than kids and marriage and housekeeping, and I'll say that's great.  But society still demands a whole heck of a lot from you.  Even other women demand these things from you, and if they think you're not doing as much as they are (like raising a dozen children for example) then they'll scoff and demean you.

     That's where the female burden comes in.

     Because even if we don't think about ourselves that way, I can guarantee you that 99 of a 100 people are thinking about us that way when they see us on the street, when they see us struggling with children or having a fight with our husbands or whether they see us struggle to find a job.  Society still wants all of these things from us and it's all set up to destroy what we're fighting for; women still can't make as much as men because we still have to do the majority of the house work so we're stuck working part-time jobs, or taking care of the kids, or we're being forced to wear makeup or dress nicely or have to spend our free time doing all of the things that women have to do because that's what's demanded of us.
     And because of this societal demand on us, it starts to creep in on our lives.

     That's where my female burden has come in.  And it's not exactly what you think either.  My personal burden is feeling like I'm a burden.  I have a mindset that I should not be a burden on someone, but also that I don't want to unnecessarily burden myself in my future life either by staying at home and being a 'housewife' because I see what that did to my mom growing up, and only now that I'm nearly - gasp - FORTY - I'm starting to see the signs of what had happened and I have been determined that I would not be that kind of person who depends solely upon another human being.
     Does that mean I don't depend on my husband?  Hell no, of course I depend on him!  We HAVE to depend on one another to get by in this society.  But I also have always wanted to contribute my equal share to both finances and home life and when that's suddenly broken down, it's just killing me internally.
     And yet, I have very little demand on me because I'm a woman.  My stress is mine.  It's a burden I've placed upon myself.  It's a burden that most women place upon themselves.  

THE BURDEN WE PLACE UPON OURSELVES IS THE FEMALE BURDEN.

     My burden is one that is self-inflicted, but it's also in an effort for equality, but the more I job hunt, the more I realize just how difficult it is for me, knowing what hurdles I have in front of me.  If I choose to get into that job field again where it's eat or be eaten, I think I'll die internally again.  But I think if I get into a mind-numbing job of the insurance salesman, I think that would kill me too.  So, I've been applying everywhere, veterinarian offices, glaziers, bookstores, insurance companies, garden centers... and nothing comes back.  I have too much experience in a single field that I don't want to go back to, and I don't want to be a manager anymore, but that's all I've got.

     And yes, I have a husband that's okay with me taking my time finding a job.  He had the same issue when we were dating and I only told him that I wouldn't marry him until we'd settled the credit card debt because I didn't want either of us to be a burden upon one another.  And I worked hard the entire time, full time, all sorts of hours, working all sorts of stressful situations, and I was miserable the entire time, but I continued on.  And he supported me saying he'd try for something better, he'd take care of me no matter what I wanted to do.  And heck, he was starting to do that even before we'd officially started dating - he'd literally started thinking about how to 'save' me long before we were a thing.  
     I really love that.  But I also feel as guilty as hell about it too.

     So for a time I thought I'd start doing things creatively, be my own boss, that sort of thing.  Why not?  But when you start to do the math, setting up craft tables, for instance, really breaks down.  I need to pay for the table space, then pay for stock, then make stock, which takes time (for example, I spent probably $15 on stock, but took 6 hours to make 9 things...  Say I want to make $15/hr doing this job and a table costs $60...  I'd have to sell those 9 things at $18 each to pay for the supply cost, the table, and myself...and oh, how many hours would it take to sell those 9 things at $18 each, because if it takes six hours more to sell them at $15?  I'd have to make them $28 instead, and that's not counting taxes taken out and the fact that no one is going to pay that much money for a little wooden hand-painted ornament that should cost between $5-10.)
     And maybe I should get a part-time job to supplement it?  Then there's no point because why am I working two jobs and neither of them are giving me insurance which is the number 1 reason that I need a job in the first place.  The dentist keeps harassing me for the appointment I cancelled, and the pharmacy kept hassling me about a prescription I couldn't pick up because I don't have money for it anymore, so yeah, that means I have to go into a full-time job again unless my husband does find a better job to take care of us and then there's that "being a burden" thing again.

     As I said, this whole thing is really making my life miserable.  Would I still be miserable if my husband made $100k a year instead of $40K?  Probably.  Because what if he died before retirement?  What if I was like my mom and hadn't been supporting myself for years and thus slowly went into debt during my old age because I'd lost the ability to take care of myself?
     I'd still be miserable.

     I'm honestly not sure that anything will be done about this in my life time.  I was raised the way I am and even though I try to keep the most open of minds that I can, there's things that have been so well ingrained in my psyche it's nearly impossible for me not to go back to them over and over again.  It's another one of my burdens that I must bear.



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     I'm sorry this kind of just dwindled out, but it was more of a stream of conscience with me trying to write something that might be more officially bloggy than it is.  I'm practicing at least.  I've never been very good with feminism or civil rights or any of that stuff, but I'm learning.  I was raised a very devote Christian Republican that believed that it was MEN that held the power and the women had to be there to help them no matter what, but I've never believed that we shouldn't also help ourselves.  But I also don't like the hate, the inequality and belief that some people are better than others and that's what gets us ahead in life.  I just can't, because God made us equal.  He put MAN and WOMAN into the garden.  It doesn't say anywhere about putting white men here and black men here...  Or if you don't believe in creation then you should believe that every human came from the same creature as it crawled out of the ocean, which means that no one was any better than anyone else to begin with - no matter which way you look at it!

     But I'm also here to say that I'm trying to find a way to keep my life together and on this Monday I decided to create my own "work day" by spending my 10-5 day (at least) working on stock for my craft table and at the very least if I get it all ready now, come August I'll be ready if I have another job or not.  And also working on chores and getting other things done as well.
     Wish me luck, I'm still a work in progress.

     
     

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