Real men

I recently saw a Facebook post that got me all kinds of riled up.

It shouldn’t have, because… well, it’s Facebook, but it did and I’m going to blame the meds and my emotionally charged state.

The post initially was about someone being annoyed when they see a woman pumping her gas while a man sits in the car.

I could’ve waved it right off as one of those “some people might be better off just staying in their own lane” type of posts, but I read the comments.

One of the sacred (I’m mostly kidding) rules of journalism is to never read the comments.

People were going off about men who do that not being real men. One person went so far as to say her dad walks over to men when he sees them doing that and preaches to them about it.

Y’all.

I have to admit something.

Russ doesn’t always pump my gas for me.

I also have to admit that I’ve been guilty in the past of wishing he would always offer.

But he doesn’t.

And really why does he have to? He always pumps gas when he drives. I never offer to do it for him. Like him, I’m a perfectly capable adult. Heck, thanks to South Carolina’s extremely lax license rules, we probably got our driver’s license in the same year, so I’m betting we’ve been pumping our own gas for the same amount of time.

He doesn’t always pump my gas for me and it really is fine, but those “not a real man” comments had me some kind of fired up.

For over six months we’ve been going through the toughest thing we’ve ever faced and that’s just since we enlisted the help of fertility specialists. In that time, well, I honestly can’t even tell you all of the awful stuff Russ has held my hand through. It’s just too personal.

He’s seen and learned things about a woman’s body that I would’ve expected to make him, at the very least, cringe. And even if he has internally cringed, he’s never once shown it to me.

There are things about womanhood that are pretty easy to keep to yourself when you’re going through the normal patterns of life. But when stuff hits the fan in the fertility department, a whole lot of that privacy goes away pretty quickly and embarrassment becomes a bit of a lost cause.

Still, he’s never made me feel like this whole process was anything less that worth it.

The man even let doctors open up his most delicate part of his body so we could find out if he would even be able to have kids.

On top of all of that, he’s picked up even more than his usual share of cleaning around the house and he’s started cooking more dinners.

He got over his own fear of needles and blood so he could give me the daily shots that I can’t easily give myself.

He constantly checks on me to see how I’m feeling and if I just need a break.

And he’s reminded me time and time again that we don’t have to do this if it’s too hard, that he’d be okay with using a donor if I want to go through the physically easier process of insemination rather than IVF.

If that’s not a real man, then I’m not even sure I want one.

And a fair warning to the preaching type: The first person who walks up to our car to preach to Russ for not pumping my gas is likely to be the first person I’ve ever punched.

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women’s equality day

In 1996 when I ran the second fastest mile in the whole third grade no one told me I was the fastest girl. They told me I was the second fastest kid in the third grade. Only now do I see the significance of that.

The internet tells me today is Women’s Equality Day. I did a little research to make sure this wasn’t some facebook rumor like National Eat A Hotdog Wrapped In A Pretzel And High Five Your Neighbor Day or something. Turns out, it’s a real holiday designated by congress in 1971 (Equality day, not the pretzel thing). I’m a woman so naturally I care about this. The push for Women’s Equality is still very relevant 42 years later, but in a totally different way.

For what it’s worth I don’t think the issue now is about rights, it’s safety. Women still need a way to go through life without being on the defensive at all times.

Hear me out. Ask a woman who runs if she’s ever been out on a trail by herself and not thought of what she would do if someone were to attack her. Ask her if she knows what it’s like to piece together an escape plan to the beat of her own steps. Ask a grown woman how often she walks to her car alone after a night out. Better yet, ask her what she does when she has to walk alone. 9 times out of 10 I bet she’ll say she calls her husband/parents/friends/siblings on the phone so someone will know if something happens or where she was when it did. Ask her how she carries her keys when she walks through a parking garage – sticking out in case she has to use them, right? Ask her if she owns pepper spray. Ask any woman you know if she’s ever been approached by a stranger, with an entirely too aggressive come on, while she was alone. I could go on for days, but you’re smart. You get the point.

Women my age were born well after the push to get women in the workplace. We weren’t around when girls couldn’t wear pants. We’ve mostly never been told we can’t do things because of our gender. I grew up with older brothers who never even considered letting “I’m a girl” be an excuse in any sport. My oldest brother taught me how to throw a spiral before I could even ride a bike. No one ever said I needed to choose a career that would let me take time off to care for a family.  I suppose that’s the case for a lot of women my age. What’s mind-blowing is that we’re just a generation behind the women who were told that they didn’t need to go to college. They should work at home for the good of the kids. Not that there’s anything wrong with staying home, but it’s a choice now. That is significant. Our mothers remember when it became okay to wear pants to school.

It’s been less than a hundred years since women were first allowed to vote. Let that sink in. It’s been less than a hundred years since women started voting.

So it’s hard for me to think of Women’s Equality day as a continued fight for more rights for women. We’ve come so far. We’re far enough that the we recognize misogyny as a character flaw not a legitimate way of thinking.

Women now have dozens, hundreds, thousands more opportunities than our mothers. But we’re still not free from the fear that one day somebody is going to come along and recognize the “weaker sex” in us and take advantage of it. So we keep pushing. We keep telling our daughters that it’s good to be strong and brave. We keep teaching our sons to respect and empower women. We’ve come this far in less than a hundred years, there’s no way to know how much better things can get.

On this 43rd annual Women’s Equality Day It doesn’t matter that I was the fastest girl to run the mile in third grade. It does matter that no one made the distinction.