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On being a woman

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I’m glad I’m not a woman. Because, it seems to me that if I were, I’d be a very, very angry woman most of the time. There’s a casual sexism out there which most of us men are blissfully ignorant of, but which for women must be like a constant open wound. Let me tell you about what brought this on.

I was talking with a stranger recently, a woman, as it happens and I was telling her that I moved here to Bossier so I could be with my daughter. The woman’s reaction was pretty much the same as that of many people when I tell them this; she’s pleasantly surprised. Frankly, I don’t know which is worse; feeling slightly ashamed of the fact that many of my male counterparts do not always do what they should do, i.e. be with your kid while he/she is growing up, or the surprise that women expect so little of men.

Brian headshotLet’s face it, if I were a woman and I said I had quit my job as a teacher in Ireland and moved here so I could be with my daughter, practically no one would bat an eyelid. Why? Because I’d only be doing precisely what society has come to expect of me – taking care of my child by doing the very minimum at least – showing up for duty. Why do we not expect the same of a father? Is it because so many men don’t stay with their kids? Is it because a man is far more likely to bail? So, while I’m showered with compliments for being “such a great dad” every time this comes up, if I were a woman my actions wouldn’t even warrant recognition or remark. Choosing to stay with my kid would be, well, almost “thankless”; not worthy of mention, not worthy of, dare I say it, “praise.”

So, yeah, I’d be pretty peed off if I were a woman, because more is expected of you when it comes to raising children, and you get bugger all thanks for it if you had to make the same sacrifices that a man had to make. What was it that Alice Cooper used to sing, “Only Women Bleed”.

And then of course there’s the blatant, the in your face sexism, like they have in certain elite private golf clubs reserved only for the testicular types among us.  We have these in Ireland and I guess you do too. Even now, thinking about it, the effrontery of it all has me reaching for a cudgel to wallop those slope-headed neanderthals who make these rules. What on earth are they afraid of? That there’ll be no gin left in the bar? No Scotch today, just spritzers? Stray strands of hair might sully the sofas? Women will arrive into the lounge, unclasp their bras, slip them off while still wearing their sweaters and then fling them across the room sighing “What a relief!”?

It’s so absurd,  so maddening, so embarrassing. At the end of the day I do think it’s a lot easier to live with the embarrassment of being man, than it would be to live with the smoldering rage I’d have if I were a woman.

Brian O’ Nuanain runs “Across The Pond And Beyond”, a company that organizes international vacations. You can reach him at acrossthepondandbeyond.com 

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