I was apart of a very interesting conversation not too long ago which included my boyfriend and one of his good friends. They were speaking of the best method to clean car headlights.
“Bro, all you have to do is spray your headlights with OFF bug spray and bam! They’re clean!”
“Yeah, you told me that but when I looked it up it said that it doesn’t last very long. It’s a short term fix. I’m just going to buy the special kit and clean them. I can clean yours too babe.” My boyfriend smiles, turning his attention from his friend to where I was sitting.
“Awe, I appreciate that! But don’t worry, I can just do it.” The statement spilled from my lips without a second’s thought. It has always been natural for me to do things on my own. For one thing, I’ve never liked to burden others with tedious duties, especially if it’s something I could easily just do my self. Plus, I’ve always been one to just take care of things on my own. Not so much because I want to but because I’ve been conditioned to. My boyfriend’s friend, who I just met a couple months ago, wouldn’t have a clue as to the reasoning of my reaction though and he quickly starts to lay it on thick…
“Lord.. all you women now-a-days are so independent! Can’t you girls just let us do things for you? I mean, it’s because we actually like to do things for you. It’s how we show that we care, seriously…”
He is not the only man to feel this way. I feel as though the majority of men see women as wanting to be Miss. Independent, yet to be honest, I don’t think it is so much of us wanting to be independent as it is that we have been conditioned to be this way.
My generation is the generation of the baby boomer parents. Baby boomers are the generation to have really started a new trend in parenting, instilling different values and ways of life. Whether you were married and then divorced, raising children that way, or never married to begin with and having children out of wedlock, one of the major lessons taught, be it beaten into you or subconsciously taught, was the lesson of being independent. Doing for yourself so you would never have to solely depend on others. This lesson being especially directed towards females. Men were always raised as being the “men of the house”. Families have always depended on men to bring home food, to help build and maintain shelter and order. Men were always looked as the bosses, the ones who truly ran the household. It has only been in the last 50 years or so that women have begun a new sort of revolution with what they wanted their contributions to be. More freedom to choose what, where, when, and who when it came to decisions to be made in their lives. Even women who have been in a loving marriage for decades will say that they wish a sort of different life for their daughters, one with more leeway to do what they want to do and without having to depend on anyone other than themselves.
My parents divorced when I was 4 years old. At that time, my mother had depended on my father so much that she didn’t even know to fill out a personal check on her own. She had been so utterly dependent on my father that when they split up, she felt as if she had been thrown into a world she knew nothing of. It was a struggle for her to get back on her feet and succeed as a single mother of two young girls. Her mantra always was, “Do for yourself. Depend on no man. You are all you need.” and as a kid, watching and observing, I took this in and applied it to my life. Before I knew it, it was my life.
I am no extreme feminist by any means. Yet, I do understand the thoughts behind those that are, just as I understand the frustrations plaguing men when it comes to the evolution of women and the roles men now play in their lives. But as it is a struggle for men to adapt to a woman’s newly found independence, it is also a struggle for women to find a middle ground with wanting to be independent while also allowing room for someone else to help take care of you. It is a small battle that presents itself regularly in life. One that I don’t ever see being won by either party but one that can be a bit more manageable.
For me it is a struggle to let go of the reigns a bit and allow for someone else to take on more than what I am used to giving up. I have to remind myself that yes, although I am very independent, I also have to allow others who love me to do things for me, not because I can’t do them myself but because for them, it’s a way to show that they care. It takes effort and awareness to be able to allow for this to happen but it’s a challenge worth accepting if it means bringing a bit of joy into someone else’s life. I hope that for the women who read this post it allows for you to take a step back, however slight that step may be, in order to allow someone else to do for you. Allow them to care for you in ways that they would like to express. Give them that chance to express. I also hope that for the men who read this you may now understand that maybe it isn’t so much that we hate your help. It is that we have grown into independence and truly know nothing else.