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I'm a Feminist Who's Never Taken Out the Trash but My Daughter is Still Learning from Me

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I have a confession.

I’m a feminist. But I’m a feminist who’s been married for almost ten years and has never…

Taken out the trash.

Mowed the lawn.

Shoveled the snowy driveway.

Changed the fire alarm that always seems to need batteries in the middle of the night.

Fix a wobbly door handle.

Gulp.

Change a lightbulb.

I know, I know. What a priss. What a princess. What decade does she live in? And the question that could be most alarming, what is she teaching her daughter?

I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately. Yes, my daughter is only three, maybe I don’t need to be showing her how to embrace feminism quite yet, but she could still watch Mom drag the trash down to the curb once a year, right? But while I acknowledge that, yes, I could do some of the stereotypical “manly” jobs more often, my daughter is still learning—through other actions of mine and my husband.

I think that you can be a feminist today without flip-flopping the old-school roles within the home. But instead of taking a wrench out of the toolbox, I’m spending time showing my daughter how to voice her opinions even if they’re seen as ugly— proving herself in school and work environments and having a say in everything that goes on inside of the family. She’s witnessing how I can do all of that while still letting my husband fulfill the old-school husband role. Or, maybe I just married Superman’s equivalent. But I don’t think so. I think today’s man, today’s “good” man that is, is okay still doing all of the so-called “dirty” work while also supporting women as being equals everywhere: work, school, society, and yes, the home.

Doesn’t true feminism revolve around the idea that a woman should do what she wants to do? Shouldn’t it be centered on what she feels empowered to do? If a woman feels powerful when she takes out those big heavy clippers and trims the bushes on her front lawn, then let’s applaud her. But what if she doesn’t want to? What if she’d rather take swigs of her coffee while writing at her desk? Do we boo her? If we believe in true feminism, I don’t think so. I think we cheer her on, too. I know my husband certainly applauds me despite the fact that I don’t take the garbage out.

My husband, he encourages and challenges me to speak what’s on my mind whether by using my voice in person or my words on paper. He applauds me in front of the kids after I go for a half-hearted jog by saying, “Good job, Mom! How many miles did you run?” He brags to them when he hears that an essay was picked up by a publication. And on Tuesday and Thursday nights when the kids say, “I wish Mommy could help tuck us in,” he makes sure to respond, “Me too, but Mommy is working hard to get her second grad degree.”

No, I’m not teaching my daughter how to use a wrench, but I don’t think that matters. I’m showing her how to use her voice and follow the beat that drums loudly inside of her—regardless of what society or any man has to say about it. And my husband, he’s teaching her how a man should love and respect her—through both changing the light bulbs and applauding his wife in front of his children.

Next week, maybe it’ll be next week when I finally take out the trash. And maybe my daughter will help me.

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