I have watched with interest the recent footage broadcast in the media and on the internet highlighting the differences in how Trump and Obama treat Michelle and Melania. These snapshots reveal a huge chasm in behaviour promoting intense debate and women have taken to the streets in protest against derogatory remarks made by Trump in private against women. Some commentators have criticised these women labelling them ‘feminazis’.
Are the women marching on the streets overreacting as the term ‘feminazi suggests? I can’t help thinking about the real atrocities against women that are being committed in the Middle East, Africa, Asia. Should we not be marching on the streets about Saudi Arabia? Protesting against the curtailment of basic liberties that we enjoy here in the West and believe to be our rights and freedoms. To be fair though, there have been such protests too, though perhaps less publicised. Maybe we are suffering protest fatigue.
Does Obama demonstrate an absolute role model in terms of how men should treat women? We have watched his public displays of respect and tender affection. As he opens the car door for Michelle, or he drapes his jacket over her shoulders at the end of an exhausting evening, or as he refers to her in speeches with intense love and profound respect .. the list goes on..
Many men support the view that “sisters are doing it for themselves”- roughly translated they think modern women don’t appreciate a public show of affection or courtesy. That it demeans them in some way, and ardent feminists would agree that they don’t want preferential treatment in any way. They want equality. Personally I think this view lets men off the hook too easily and that some men, not consciously perhaps, take advantage of this position. Women still do the bulk of domestic chores in the home, the child rearing, cooking and the laundry. Even if they employ domestic help they will be the ones doing the hiring and firing.
Like Michelle, I do appreciate respect a degree of chivalry from a man. I do want to be taken care of, I don’t have anything to prove, I am finding it exhausting enough raising young children without having to feel the pressure to have a high flying career. I do appreciate politeness and most importantly it means a lot when he listens properly to me and respects my opinion, or tells me that I am a great mum and puts thought and effort into spoiling me on my birthday.
Another distressing thought is that some partners may have a veneer of charm and affection in public but are not necessarily helpful or kind (or may even be abusive) in private. Of course, women may defer to their husband in public but behind closed doors will be utterly in control, although this is presumably far less common. How do we know what goes on behind closed doors ?
My husband doesn’t do grand gestures but I know he loves me, he puts up with my idiosyncrasies right? And he is kind, loyal and we do talk. Lots. Sometimes anyway. And I appreciate and would rather buy myself the flowers and get help with the childcare or the washing up! As much as we might all aspire to have an Obama or a Mr Darcey (actually he was quite moody but made up for it in looks) I have someone a bit more ordinary and slightly less charismatic!
I’ll leave you to mull this over until next time,
A thoughtful Jules x