I swung my legs off the side of the bed and stifled a yelp from the muscle spasm that rippled up my spine and down my right hamstring. Our late night quickie may not have been the cause of my back pain—more of an attempt to remind myself that I am, in fact, 26 and not 86 years old—but it certainly didn't help my condition. Driving home the next morning, careful to give zero clues to my mom over the phone that I was on my way back from new boo's place, I nearly cried when I realized what day it was: Thursday.
"Oh fuck," I said under my breath. "It's trash night."
In any other circumstance that would have been a comically mundane fact. But with the sudden lower back of a geriatric, three massive recycling bags full of clinking, boozy remnants from Monday's dinner party for 15 I sneakily hosted, and the owners of the house I was sitting due back from Europe before the next trash night, I really was fucked. Did I mention I was definitely not supposed to host a party while they were gone...? (Sidebar: In my defense, the $2.2m place I've been watching looks straight out of the pages of Better Homes & Gardens, with its white-washed shiplap and architectural-salvaged marble fireplaces and vegetable garden straight out of Ina Garten's wet dream.)
Fast forward to present-day, post-dinner-party, pre-owners'-return cold sweat dripping down my spastic lumbar spine, I started to loathe my decision making process for the millionth time. Just another manic Mondayyy! Er, Thursday—now what are you gonna do about this trash? Nay, recycling. *Save the planet, y'all.*
"Ask your new man to help you out," Mom offered. "Men love to be useful."
"RIGHT" I screamed internally, a deranged, silent LOL spreading across my face as I imagined myself on the phone with my brand newly committed, super stressed man, inundated this week with crazy work demands on top of becoming an uncle just two days prior. "Babe, I know you got into the office at 7 this morning and probably won't be home til about 10PM and then will stay up till 1AM working before you go to bed and do it all over again, buuut do you think you could maybe drive half an hour to come HELP ME TAKE MY TRASH OUT?"
El oh el is right. No way, José. I'd sooner do it myself.
Thankfully, another José was on the way to save the day—my one and only Dad. Can we have a round of applause for the great dads out there? I almost cried at the realization that he was heading my way for dinner and would definitely bail me out of this one. (Actually, I did cry...new birth control is a bitch, and so is getting old.) Sure enough, that night I hobbled downstairs when he arrived and wept in his confused arms when he gave a casual "Yeah sure" at my request to help take out the recycling.
WHICH BEGS THE QUESTION(S):
Why is it so hard to ask for help?
Why are dads the best?
Would I have asked Hottie McHotpants for help if Dad hadn't saved me?
Most importantly...is this a case of *ToXiC FeMiNisM*?
Stereotypically feminist gender roles that restrict the kinds of emotions allowable for girls and women to express, including social expectations that women seek to be the same as men and limit their emotional range primarily to expressions of power.
(Adapted from William Ming Liu's definition of toxic masculinity)
Before you cast me as a Trump supporter who hates Planned Parenthood and doesn't believe in global warming, let me be clear: I AM A FEMINIST. WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS. IF U AINT A FEMINIST GTFO OF 2018. (I capped it so you know it's real.)
All the badass women and men who have fought for us to arrive at this point in American society are heroes, and I don't downplay their hand in history. But I will also say this: Women are not men—physically, emotionally, we're just plain different. That's ok! As aforementioned Ina Garten would say, IT'S FABULOUS, actually. We should celebrate and honor these differences, not try to pretend like we are exactly the same so I'll open my own goddamn door! Now GO KICK ROCKS, NEANDERTHAL!
Where have all the real men gone? Probably retreated into themselves out of fear? But hey, I get it. Generations of misogyny, abuse, wage gaps, under-representation in pretty much every position of power you can think of, toxic masculinity, condescending mansplaining, manspreading, and a lifetime of incessant catcalling will take a toll on us females! We’re mad! We should be mad! It is 2018 and we still do not have political, economic and social equality of the sexes. (That's the definition of feminism, ICYMI. I bolded it so you remember.)
Somewhere along the lines of history, that message got confused and we wound up on opposing sides of the Grand Canyon, men shaking their heads while feminists on the other side scream RESPECT US, YOU IDIOTS. Now I'm no expert, but that's not going to fix anything.
Feminism comes in many flavors, and mine of choice has been the point of contention among my contemporaries. Am I still a feminist if I like a man to pay for my drinks on a first date? 100th date? If I prefer him to lead me through a crowd or expect him to open the Uber door for me every time? Am I still a feminist if I love to wear makeup? If I wax my vagina? If I sausage my way into Spanx to hide my back fat when the outfit calls for it? The answer is yes...resounding yes. Because I still believe in political, economic and social equality of the sexes. Feminist leader and actress Emma Watson said it best:
"Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women (*or men, might I add), it’s about freedom. It’s about liberation. It’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it."
We need to keep fighting the good fight of equality with intention. Equality does not equal sameness. Let women be women, and—my mom was right—we need to let men be men and serve us. Beware of toxic feminism y'all, the kind that makes you feel small for being a woman. It only confuses our cause.
Toxic feminism hurts us when it vilifies femininity, turning it into a weakness rather than strength.
Toxic feminism hurts us when it urges us to mask all vulnerability with displays of power.
Toxic feminism hurts us (literally) when it makes you actively consider inflaming your already injured back because you would sooner die than ask your new boyfriend to help you take out the recycling.
Why don't we give this a try instead:
Be soft. It's scary and hard, but do it anyway. Practice vulnerability and ask for help. Accept it in grateful abundance when it comes. Enjoy the warm feeling that washes over you knowing that men are here to serve your fine goddess ass. Revel in the pleasure of him doing something for you—not because you can't, but simply so that you don't have to. Say thank you.