Friday, February 17, 2017

In which you're just gonna have to get your own snacks and toilet paper.

Did you feel a slight seismic tremor yesterday? It was a woman saying, "Fuck right off." Except in nicer language.

My pal serves on a volunteer board of four men and four women. Every year, they have a big to-do board retreat. It's off-site with tons of food and a program and it's just A Thing. Yesterday, the woman who has planned it for the last several years asked for help.

Woman No. 2 immediately volunteered. Woman No. 3 is gravely ill and so was off the hook. And then? Then, the entire board turned and looked at my friend, Woman No. 4.

They just looked at her. They fully expected that she would / should be the person to volunteer.

(I know. I know! This is the part of the story where my eyes rolled so far back in my head that I could see myself having a stroke. Because all women have been there, right? We've been there, we've just done shit because it needed to get done, we've been the person who is suddenly responsible for some shit job because for the love of all that is holy, no one else seemed to notice that SOMEONE NEEDS TO BUY TOILET PAPER REGULARLY. My friend's situation has played out time and time and time again.)

But my brave, strong friend was not having it. Not on this particular Thursday. No.

She said, "I'm happy to help. But I'm not OK with this being an all-woman committee."

All the men just stared at her. The male board chair turned red, laughed nervously, and said, "Well, why not? Nothing wrong with that, right?"

And Woman No. 4 said, "Nope. We need gender diversity. The board is nicely balanced with four men and four women. The planning committee needs to be balanced, too."

And then? Silence.

And more silence.

Finally, the guy she knew would eventually volunteer did. The board moved on. And the guy sitting next to Woman No. 4 leaned in and whispered, "No, thank you. I already had my turn organizing that retreat."

To her credit (or not?), my friend did not immediately start screaming, "What, Bruce? What? You helped carry some trays of food into the building six years ago and now you're off the hook for infinity? What? Are you even capable of feeding yourself? Because you seem pretty spineless to me!"

Instead, she gave him The Eye. But the entire conversation caused a slight seismic shift in the meeting and, hopefully, the world.

At home, my friend's husband laughed and said, "You're just lucky none of the men said their wives could help."

Then she killed him and made it look like an accident.

There's so much unaccounted labor. Unvalued labor, unpaid labor. Who schedules the meetings? Who sends the reminders? Who makes sure the supplies don't run out? Who never gets thanked or paid for this work that just magically gets done? This work that half the population doesn't even seem to realize exists?

I think we should get t-shirts made that say, "If you weren't stranded without toilet paper today, thank a woman."

10 comments:

Jenny Hart Boren said...

This played out in the news at SCROTUS's press conference yesterday when the man who was speaking (you know who I mean), in response to a question about a potential meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, asked the female [black] reporter if she (1) knew those Congressmembers, and (2) instructed her go ahead and set up the meeting. Because she is a woman who, despite the disparity in their positions, was the logical one to set it up. To do ALL the work. Because of course HE wasn't going to do it. We all saw the clip and hammered our collective female heads on our collective desks because THIS.

Becky Brown said...

Jenny, I watched that clip in horror. Yes. Like that. (Also hammering my head on my desk)

BentNotBroken said...

I love this story so much! Your friend is a badass. I am so glad that she stood up to those men. All of the small things add up.

He Who Shall Not Be Named is a deplorable excuse for a human being and a f***ing scary president, but the one positive thing (albeit unintended on his behalf) that he's done is to unite and empower women to speak up.

I'll fully admit that I don't watch his press conferences. I just can't handle him without my blood pressure rising to unsafe levels.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure my husband thinks there is a toilet paper fairy.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

AMEN!!
I absolutely love that your friend stood (sat?) her ground and pointed out the disparity.
Get your own snacks and toilet paper indeed!
When I went merrily off to work nearly almost 4 years ago, my retired husband took over the shopping (he'd already taken over most of the cooking, so obviously he is head and shoulders above many men). BUT, after over five years of shopping he still does not realize simple things like toilet paper need to be checked and repurchased on a regular basis. I'm still the one making that list -- because, let's face it, one of us is going to be more inconvenienced than the other if I "let it go" and rely on him for TP. If he opens the last ketchup, it does not occur to him to buy a new bottle for the pantry; I can't tell you how many times we have run out of basics like milk and eggs (there are young men in our home, one of whom eats a half-dozen eggs for breakfast every. single.day). This is not rocket science, it's simple math. I can't cook without shopping first for myself because invariably there will not be all the ingredients available.
And it's not just the shopping. I spent years volunteering with and at the schools for the kids (he shows up now for student-parent conferences by force). I'm the keeper of the calendar.
I will say that our church is better about sharing responsibilities compared to what I've seen elsewhere, but the battle is not over. Soldier on!

cookingwithgas said...

learning to say no is the hardest thing in the world for us, we, women in general. I know it took me years and then one day, I said no, then I said it again, and again and again. Wow! Who knew how beautiful this word could be. I am now working, I'm sorry out.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

HERE HERE!
I applaud your friend for standing her ground. Enough IS enough and you are absolutely right. Advance! Continue the war, ladies!

Becky said...

I may have had a massive meltdown on this subject here at home the other night. This whole, trying to have a job while having a teenager and a husband who's on the road a big chunk of the time has worn thin, particularly with said teen taking an early morning class at school, requiring me to drive her there every. single. blessed. morning.

nell galles said...

You are so awesome. So glad to have befriended you at this colossally freaky time in history!! Can we have lunch soon? xox

Banjo Unfabulousness said...

Yes! I work full time, volunteer in a scouts organization, and have a teenager at home and am STILL expected to make sure we have all the necessities as well as clean house and make dinner. And my children wonder why I drink? Having said that? I have a great partner who helps, but there are so many things I do that I wonder how long it would take the wheels to fall off the well oiled bus if I was not doing the heavy lifting?

Andrea said...

Oh my goodness! Good for her that she spoke up for NOT volunteering.

I am also thinking about how having the extra toilet paper in the closet isnt even always enough with all of the doorknob turning and door opening that requires ;)