I was a lazy child. By that I don’t refer to my disabilities or to the things I felt too overwhelmed to do. I mean that I avoided chores I was capable of doing, sometimes going to great lengths and effort to do so. When I was nine, I once ran the unplugged vacuum cleaner across the living room so it would make lines in the carpet, even though it would have been just as easy to plug it in and actually clean the floor.
This laziness, work avoidance, is ancient and the “solution” is often to find someone else to do that labor. From the first pharaohs and kings to have servants, to white Europeans who sailed all the way to Africa to kidnap and enslave people, we humans as a whole have been willing to go to extremes to get out of grunt work.
On the smaller, family scale I have long known men in my culture were lazy in this way. What I am beginning to suspect is that men’s freedom to be lazy is the whole point. That the pay gaps, cumpolsory heterosexuality, and sexual harassment in public spaces all work together for one goal: Patriarchy exists so men won’t have to pick up their dirty socks.
Every pressure that tells girls to dream only of marriage, babies, and homemaking helps create a future for boys where they will have a domestic servant who loves them. When little girls are given toy shopping carts but boys aren’t, we tell ourselves grown women are “naturally” better at shopping, or gained the skill through vapid interest in fashion, another interest we inculcate and then use against girls.
Compulsory heterosexuality, the wide scale, aggressive, and constant promotion of male-female monogamous legal union resulting in offspring, is the toxic air we breathe. It’s marketed as romance, as wonder, as fulfillment, especially to girls and women. The hard sell hides some ugly truths about what marriage can really be like.
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