opinion

HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: Send this story to a man in your life.

Dear Sir, 

It’s been a big few weeks for you, hasn’t it? 

Every time you look at the news, someone’s telling you what to do. What not to do. 

Watch: If a man lived like a woman for a day. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

Don’t rape. Don’t grope. Don’t harass. Don’t hit. Don’t bully. Don’t slut shame. Don’t intimidate. Don’t belittle. Don’t silence. Don’t talk over. 

Don’t walk behind us in the dark. 

Don’t assume, 'She'll be right' if you see another man walking behind us in the dark. 

Don’t walk by a man intimidating a woman. 

Don’t laugh at your friend’s bullshit "chick" jokes. 

Don’t send dick pics nobody asked for. 

Don’t "not take no for an answer". 

It’s a lot of don’ts, isn’t it? It’s been a big few weeks. 

You’re not that guy. I know. 

None of you are. 

But, you might be this guy. 

The one who doesn’t know what’s for dinner. The one who doesn’t know how to turn on the washing machine.

If you are in a relationship with a woman, and you share a home, do you know whether or not there’s milk in the fridge? 

Bread in the bread bin? 

Do you know how long those sheets have been on the bed? 

And did you do the dishes last night? 

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast with what women are talking about this week. Post continues below.

I know what you’re thinking, sir. 

What the hell does that have to do with The Reckoning I keep hearing about. What does it have to do with sexual assault, harassment, violence and women's safety in the workplace? 

The admittedly wonky division of domestic labour is not what you’re seeing on the news every night.

ADVERTISEMENT

And also, you’re still processing crossing over the road. How are dishes relevant? 

Well. 

Take a deep breath and ask yourself what role women play in your life. Your mother, your sisters, old friends, romantic partners. Do they do things for you?

Do they make your life easier? Do they take care of things, so you don’t have to? 

Do they remind you it’s your brother's birthday? Do they make sure the dog's fed? Do they ensure your favourite drink’s in the fridge, that the kids' snacks are in the cupboard? Do they deliver a supply of clean T-shirts to the place where you know to find them? 

Do they tell you where you’re meant to be on Saturday afternoon? Do they gently suggest it's time to check in on that friend who had a bad breakup last year? 

Be honest. 

Do they do your dishes? 

If the answers are yes, yes, yes (and it’s overwhelmingly likely that they are, women still do twice the amount of domestic labour in heterosexual relationships, regardless of their own work status), then ask yourself what that does to the way you view women, out in the world? 

Does it suggest that they’re there to help? To help YOU. 

That they do things you need or want doing. 

That they're not the drivers, they’re the facilitators.

How does that translate, in the office, in a meeting, on a date, in a pub, in a classroom?

Are you likely to see the person who smoothes your path daily as being just like you

Rightly or wrongly, do you view the dish-washer, the errand runner, the floor-scrubber as having autonomy and opinions and intellect and valid life experiences that inform a broad world view? 

Or are you likely to see them as a little lower down the pecking order? 

Someone whose opinion is worth just a little less? 

Someone who can be talked into things they don't want to do? 

Someone who deserves just a little less... respect? 

I know, sir. 

It’s been a big few weeks for you, hasn’t it? 

Every time you look at the news, someone’s telling you what to do.

Don’t rape. Don’t grope. Don’t harass. Don’t hit. Don’t bully. Don’t slut shame. Don’t intimidate. Don’t belittle. Don’t silence. Don’t talk over. 

It feels far away. You’re not that guy. Surely, you’re not. 

But here’s a place to start. 

Do. The. Dishes.

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.