paying for it vs. buying it

When I was growing up, my sometimes irritated dad would snark—as a conversation stopper—“It’s my house, I make the money, I make the rules.” That never prevented a rebuttal. “What crap!” I’d say. (he was a kind man so you could rebut) See: rabble, rabble, rabble : : women create, men destroy)

Kids can’t make money for the upkeep of a house nor can babies, pets or plants in the garden. Doesn’t mean they have no worth or don’t offer ineffable gifts. (see planet death…and then there are honey bees) Just one more odious piece of the patriarchal paradigm insinuating that money trumps all ‘things’ in importance.

Sure, it’s often said that without cash how would we survive? but that’s only because we’re looking through a narrow financial lens. We could view the world differently. Environmentalists point at the huge disconnect between economical ecology and environmental ecology of, say, a forest and suggest we need to evaluate it for more than board price using ECO-currency. [Google it] Yes!

But back to family life. Recently a friend said while complaining about his wife, “I bought everything so it’s really all mine.”

O, sir—I seek to differ.

My friend may have paid for stuff but he didn’t buy most of it. She chose those curtains (sheets, towels, dishes, knickknacks, etc.), bought, brought them home, hung them up and maintains them. She decides what to make for dinner (for the week), does the shopping, cooks and shares it with him. And the stamps, cat medicine, groomed dog, kids shuttled and shod… Orchestrating/deciding/finding/choosing is the hardest part, not always the moolah.

I could go on but you get the point: most straight men don’t buy the majority of things for their home, their kids, that birthday party, etc. if they’re lucky enough to live with a woman. Somehow, many guys only see how they’ve made the money but are blind about how those funds were actually used and who did that unseen, culturally invisible service. It feels similar to how businesses uses art/music/writing to sell their goods but don’t value those arts as ‘real’ work.

I’d be happy to give men 25-40% less pay than they get now (women’s 2010 wages), have them be responsible for most household/child-rearing work and let them do the bulk of the choosing/buying/maintenance.

We’ll see if they still think the primary breadwinner “bought everything” and it’s all hers.

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