Some years ago while at a perogie-making bee at my sister’s, I made a remark along the lines of “I do most of the housework and cooking and shopping and other essential errands, so my partner can damn well share his income with me or pay more of our expenses than I do. It’s only fair.” Not sure what we were talking about, but her sister-in-law, busy pinching dough like a pro, responded “No wonder your relationships don’t last.”
This comment seemed to lay the blame for the breakup of my past relationships squarely upon me. While this may be true — I am certainly not laying sole responsibility at anyone else’s feet — it also jumped to the pretty quick conclusion that I was too demanding and that this was the cause of my relationship problems. Perhaps I was even a “user,” it seemed to say, and I overvalued my time and effort, which most women (good women? women who keep their man?) give for free and with no expectation of a stepping-up-to-the-plate in some way on the part of another adult who benefits daily from my labour.
Because I was shocked, I didn’t really address the subject further with her. I could almost hear my sister holding her breath, expecting me to tell the gal that she was full of shit. Instead I took her words home to think about, and am still carrying them with me – with a little bit of anger for the ungenerous summing-up of my character in such a way, and for her chauvinistic assumptions about what the role of a woman should be in this society, and at myself for not thinking fast enough to set her straight.