Years ago I would never have dreamed that this issues could be intertwined as much as it clearly is. If I had a dollar for every time someone has said in a support group “my Husband yells at me if I cant make his dinner… my husband just makes me feel like a failure because I cant cook or clean or look after the kids anymore… I feel worthless because I cant be the mother or wife I used to be…” and so on and so forth. I even know women who wont take their meds because they don’t want to gain a weight and risk being not sexy or pretty!! It breaks my heart.
If it wasn’t bad enough to have your health and your life so hurt and affected by pain and disability, that to bring issues like ‘female worthiness and gender roles’ is just plain inhumane in my book. Haven’t we suffered enough already?
Look I realise that if you happen to have a partner go through a life changing health situation that it is going to be a huge change in your life plan; but that is life. Pain and Loss can happen to anyone at anytime. Couples that truly respect each other at the basic level don’t start throwing in sexist and belittling remarks into the maelstrom.
Another constant theme that keeps coming up in support groups is how ‘unsexy’ women are feeling after putting on weight (due to meds or immobility) and how they are criticized by their husbands for not ‘looking’ good enough during their suffering. This is just ridiculous and shows not only a lack of empathy but also a lack of maturity and common sense. I can remember the time that I was first told how ‘lucky’ I was that my husband stuck by me since I can no longer be the home maker, the master chef, the house decorator, the party planner, the cleaner, the grocery shopper and the full time worker that I was!” I was dumbstruck by such an ignorant remark. Its true that I am fortunate to have an emotionally stable and empathic husband that realises that life happens and it doesn’t come with guarantees but I put that down to him being a knowledgeable and not ignorant. I really like to think I would not have ever married a man that was so superficial in the first place. He was in fact one of these men that does what is needed when it is needed. He didn’t feel the slightest bit un-masculine when I earned more money than him and he didn’t need me to have a Sunday roast waiting for him in order for him to think I was a worthy partner. He appreciates who I am inside and a raft of other qualities that goes beyond the physical.
We work together every day to accomplish what we can and what we need to and that makes the world of difference to managing a life of illness and unpredictability. I love him not because he stuck by me even when I didn’t play the stereotypical wife role but because of the depth of character he has and his ability to cope with what life hands us. We are friends. We are companions and we are support each other in whatever way we can. We are ‘lucky’ to have found each other.
When I read peoples posts about not fitting the sexy outfits, making the lavish meals, not cleaning the house and not fitting in with societies expectations of gender roles, I am deeply saddened. I am sad that once again women are desperately trying to cling to the roles and stereotypes that controlled and defined us at a time when we are going through the most excruciating and emotionally challenging time of our entire lives. We should never allow ourselves to be measured and evaluated by our physical abilities and accomplishments, but by our character, our spirit , our internal qualities and emotional intelligence. This is my opinion and I hope there are others out there who share it too.