I sat on the Metro the other day, patiently waiting for someone near me to get up so my partner could sit beside me, and we could finally listen to the podcast I had been trying to resist the urge to selfishly tune into solo.
It was a quiet Sunday, and I looked around and noticed that 70% of people sitting down were women of all ages and standing beside them solemnly was their partners who also all happened to be men.
I wondered how the unspoken deal was done that the women acquired the seat and the men stood, without question.
I thought about offering my seat to him after a while to take it in turns, knowing that he secretly wanted to sit because he had earlier complained about muscle pain after the gym.
But I knew that if I offered it, he would curtly decline, so it was a pointless effort.
Why? Because that would be weird.
The man sitting and the woman standing? Nope.
Sometimes I wonder how even though we protest inequality between the sexes and stand up for female rights, don’t we all, ‘we’ being women, abuse our power and expectations just a teeny little bit?
I frequently scowl at men on the metro that jump at the only free seat and leave me to stand, as if they owe me anything. I have no disabilities and special requirements that would indicate my preference over the seat, and even after I logically process that in my head, I still feel cheated.
Is that anti-feminist?
Or is it radically feminist to believe that they owe us something from the decades of female repression and inequality, that now they must pay their dues?
Defeating the purpose of feminism, that is.
I can’t deny, and I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I do overtly use my femininity to my advantage.
I’ve smiled to clear up a misunderstanding, batted my eye-lids to get good tips when working in bars and I’ve blamed my erratic mood swings on my period more than once.
Who can deny that the period pain ruse isn’t perfected for finishing work early? (If you have a male boss that is) they will send you running just so they don’t have to hear another word about so-called ‘woman problems’. Two simple words, it’s fool-proof.
Is it morally right to use what we’ve got, to get what we can in a male-dominated society?
Wouldn’t they do it in a heartbeat if they had the right tools? Is it harmless to exert these feminine differences, these twisted advantages, or is that manipulative?
Especially if we sit and do the maths and add in the equation of the new crazed buzzword – emotional labour. The word that has many interpretations.
Basically, it is the act of forcing or concealing certain emotions to benefit someone other than ourselves, and it is mostly documented amongst women, be it at work or at home.
We aren’t paid for this added pressure, and if we don’t perform correctly and allow our real emotions to surface, we can be seen as a ‘nag’ or it can be famously attributed to P.M.S – I’m not on my period, you’re just annoying me.
Emotional labour is not strictly gendered, men can be subjected to it too. Working in a job, for example, a restaurant, it is an unspoken duty that you slap a smile on your face even if you are having the worst day ever, man or woman.
Inherently, however, it is the women who are expected to stay happy and content, while the men do the business. So even though the pay gap is getting smaller and work discrimination is slowing, women are still expected to stay calm and resilient through tough times to avoid the reputation of being ‘crazy’, and no one adds on the extra emotional labour we do at home, the aptly named ‘womanly duties’.
The cooking, the deep cleaning, replacing the toilet paper and putting the toothpaste cap on. Small things yes, but add them together, put it on a spreadsheet to track the consistency and you’re due a pay rise.
So, I think I will continue to expect the seat on the metro.