RS: is it because i’m a woman?

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I’m the one with the spec sheets.

I’m the one who thought of this project in the first place.

I’m the one who lost sleep wondering, “Pine or cedar?” and, “How will I know if it’s been responsibly harvested?”

I’m the one stockpiling paint chips and stain samples.

I memorized the item number!

He hasn’t looked at me a single time except to detect that I’m female.

Maybe I should wave the spec sheets at him. Bounce a little. Clear my throat again. Punch him in the face.

Maybe it’s the dress.

Dangit. What were you thinking, Emily? A day like this calls for pants.

All the feminist theories in my brain are clamoring for an exit and I can’t speak a single one and all I want is to be treated like there might be a chance that I know the stuff that I know.

It’s the curse of the dress. Or a day in the life of a woman in Lowe’s.

But before I can ask him if he’s ever heard of Simone de Beauvoir, Josh turns to me and speaks the magical words:

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

Oh, sweet validation. I’m not just the sidekick in a sundress. This is my house too, and I happen to have a brain and ideas.

I’m no expert on the subject (I speak mostly from experience and blog posts and a couple of books), but I imagine that some would take issue with the implicit idea that I needed my husband to validate my opinion. My ideas do matter without a man by my side to tell other men that my ideas matter. But I tend to be more watcher than doer – more likely to think, well, this is very interesting and maybe I can write about this, than to deliver a roundhouse kick to the employee’s ideology.

I also believe in sticking up for each other. When people attribute Josh’s behavior and ideas to his masculinity more than to his personhood, I get to put a plug in for his individuality. While we were planning our wedding and women told me outright that my groom’s opinion did not matter, I got to introduce the radical idea that we both were getting married.

One of the best compliments I ever received on my decorating ideas was uttered the day my college roommate first saw my newly married apartment nest and said, “You can tell a guy lives here!” followed momentarily by “but not in bad way!”

It wouldn’t have really mattered whether she meant it in a bad way (although a sniff check may have been in order). Regardless, I felt proud that someone had noticed that we both lived there – in the most minor way I had melted our styles and made room for two.

I happen to believe we make a kickin’ team – in life and in house renovation, which, for better or for HVAC employees who abandon your project halfway through, happens to be a big part of life.

I tend toward long-term vision and color palettes and the way a room feels and energy efficiency and whether the dog will like it; Josh tends toward bulleted lists and spec sheets and hammers.

Example: he’s worried about drywall while I drown my HVAC sorrows in cabinet samples. But we’re working our way toward each other.

And although it seems elementary, there’s something sweet and brave and wonderful about turning to your partner in love and crime and stinky basements, and in one classy move presenting them as a person whose opinions matter, asking, “What do you think?”

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2 thoughts on “RS: is it because i’m a woman?

  1. Great post. I hear your relief when he spoke up, and the attendant feelings about not needing validation in order to be valid. The sad fact, I think we agree that it’s a fact and that it’s sad, is that there is a privileged position. Josh is the one with the power in that situation, so he’s the one who can sacrifice it. If there is a wall that blocks women from some things, Josh is part of it, without having chosen to be. But he can choose to lay down like a bridge. It’s not the only way: women could surely break it down. But partnerships like yours seems to be, where in Christ divided parties are reconciled, save us a lot of violence. Thanks for sharing.

    • Wonderful comment. I think we could all be more bridge than wall, simply by virtue of listening well and reacting accordingly. Even with all the “wall” type theologies and rules that frustrate those of us who have finally woken up to [some kinds of] privilege, I’m finding that our unconscious acceptance of these power dynamics inflict just as much harm.

      Until it occurred to me that I have rarely been treated seriously over the past year of home renovation, it didn’t occur to Josh, and it won’t register with other people with power in the situation unless they try to understand how it feels to be me.

      It feels a little hopeless. But it’s not.

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