In one of my favourite movies, "The Hudsucker Proxy," Jennifer Jason Leigh is described as, "a fast-talking career gal who thinks she's one of the boys." It plays well in the film's nostalgic feel of "His Girl Friday" and Barbara Stanwyck types. Point being that women who choose a career tend to forgo the more feminine aspects of her character. Not to mention forgo their relationships with men in order to better pursue their career in climbing the ladder.
As someone who works really hard and channels a lot of energy and effort into my work, most people are shocked to learn that I have absolutely no career ambitions and no interest in ladders of any kind. Granted, I like what I do, and I'm good at what I do, so I am therefore successful at what I do. I've been blessed with the energy and the time and the work ethic to do well, and I've chosen a job that offers a wise career path for the future of myself and my family. But do I want or expect my career to define who I am? Absolutely not. Just as I don't need a relationship to define myself, nor do I need a career to define myself. But, while I've got the time and the energy, it seems in everyones best interest that I work as hard and as well as I can, while I can. In fact, I've based all my career choices on what will eventually work out best for supporting my family. This translates into a high-pressure environment with high expectations, from both myself and the company.
It was only last week that I called a friend in frustration of all this pressure, asking, "What is it all for? Why are we working so hard?" To which she slyly replied, "I'm actually looking for a new job. This one's not fun." Shocked, I sputtered, "but...You're so good at what you do! You're doing so well!" And she replied, "Yeah. But I don't need to work. My husband does that. If I'm working, it's because I want to. And if I'm not having fun, why not just change jobs?" Her reasoning shattered my mind like lightning. Not once in my life has it occurred to me that I would have a husband to rely upon. Never did it cross my mind that I would not be expected to work. Not once!
In a quick survey of my girlfriends, I was startled to learn I was the ONLY one who expected to work in the future. The only one who did not expect that I would have a husband who would be responsible for supporting my family. In my mind, I suppose I've always been aware that 1) men can leave- either divorce, abandonment, or death are all realities, 2) men can be irresponsible- do I trust that I can depend so completely upon another person that I would leave all responsibility for providing on his shoulders? And then there's always the expectation that I would marry a starving artist somewhere, and I had better be prepared.
If this is the norm, this expectation for men to provide- how do men feel about this responsibility? In their mind, is it just as logical and reasonable an expectation? Is this even fair? Or is fairness irrelevant as it's such a cultural expectation? Is your career something which defines you, or is it a socialized obligation? Am I completely off in thinking that I should expect (or, at least, prepare) to shoulder some part of financial responsibility for our family? I'm not talking traditional gender role expectations. I'm talking YOU. I'm talking, is this what YOU want, as a man? And if your fantasy is holding a good job so your wife can stay home with the kids, does that dream satisfy you and does it define who you are? Or is it simply that you want to work, and women just...don't?
I am SO interested to hear what you all have to say about this...