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Feminist

Agriculture.com Staff 08/20/2008 @ 7:02am

Last week, my wife was painting the living room while I was trying to watch TV.

She was in the way, but I tried not to complain. At one point, she was painting the trim above a window and had to stand on the radiator to reach. She isn't very tall, and once she got up there she couldn't reach her paint can. I'm a nice guy, so I got up and put the paint can on top of the TV. She still couldn't reach it, so I made a pile of DVD boxes and videotapes and put the can on top of that. It was a little tipsy (the pile, not my wife), but I thought it would be all right. Besides, the can was only about half full. Even if it had spilled, how big a mess could it have made? My wife gave me a...look...and asked, "Is that what you would do if you were painting?"

"Yeah," I said.

She looked thoughtful. "Yes, it is what you would do, isn't it." Then she shrugged and went back to work -- after she moved the paint can.

I didn't understand her point, so I went back to trying to relax, despite the distractions. I know there may be a few people out there who might think I should have helped her paint. And believe me, I yearned to help, but that would've been wrong. I know that because I'm a feminist.

Seriously.

As a man with a wife and two daughters, I understand the difficulties of being a woman, and in order to help my womenfolk make their way in a hostile world, I try to let them do as much work as possible. This helps them to be strong and independent women.

It doesn't come naturally to me -- I'd really enjoy helping with housework, home maintenance and outside chores, but whenever I take over an unpleasant or difficult task, I need to worry that I'm infringing on my wife’s opportunities for personal growth and validation.

It took a while to teach my daughters that I just had their best interests at heart. When we shingled the house and I gave them the opportunity to help, I'm not certain they fully appreciated how lucky they were. When we built rock walls to line the sidewalk and let them choose whether they would mix cement or carry rocks, I honestly think they would have chosen "none of the above," if that had been an option. When I showed them a pile of old bricks and then outlined on the ground where a brick patio would look nice, it took them a little while to catch on. And when we travel and I give them the road map and allow them the opportunity to navigate our way through a crowded city, they hardly ever say, "thanks."

I'm not perfect, you understand. Even today I let women go ahead of me in line, and I almost always open doors for them. But I'm learning that it's okay to put a woman on a pedestal, as long as you hand her a paint brush while she's up there.

Copyright 2008 Brent Olson

Last week, my wife was painting the living room while I was trying to watch TV.

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