February 19, 2024

How Internalised Misogyny Supports Weaponised Incompetence.

 

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*Author’s Note: This is not about all men, nor is it all women, but it is clearly an issue out there and one that needs to be addressed. I’m not at all suggesting that all men use weaponised incompetence, nor am I suggesting all women are internally misogynistic, but we do need to talk about what’s happening in households all around the world and even in some workplaces. And we do need to do some self-reflection to understand our own beliefs and how we can change and grow.

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Internalised Misogyny: when women minimise the value of women or show gender bias in favour of men.

Weaponised Incompetence: a manipulation tactic used to pretend you can’t perform a task you can actually do, or quite easily learn to do, in order to be passive aggressive or avoid responsibility.

Unfortunately, internalised misogyny isn’t new. We have generations of women who were taught that the value of women was less. That women’s needs come after men’s.

The beliefs we form are in favour of the patriarchy; hell, they’ve been created by the patriarchy. Even though the tides are turning, there is still so much internalised misogyny, and half the time we don’t even know we are doing it.

I have become aware of it in myself at times and the realisation that I have fallen prey to it brings me feelings of frustration and disappointment. We still have a long way to go to break free of these beliefs. We still have a long way to go to fully appreciate the value of women. Not being better than men. But being equal to men.

Feminism is blamed for so many things. Some women blast videos on social media berating feminism and espousing their desire to be stay-at-home wives or mothers. To not work. To look after their men and be a traditional wife. Never understanding that it’s feminism that allows them to have a voice. Allows them to have a choice. Allows them to make these videos.

It never ceases to amaze me, the complete lack of understanding and nuance these women have. Without feminism, they wouldn’t be able to make their own decisions on working. Leaving a bad relationship. Having a bank account. Speaking out. The ignorance is mind-boggling. The misogyny coming from inside the house is a sad indictment on the ability of some to have the cognitive capacity to open their minds and grasp differing perspectives and form an opinion and understanding of their own.

I am a member of many mothers’ groups and women’s groups on social media and there is a pervasive, persistent, and alarming theme I am seeing, and it needs to be brought out into the light and discussed.

Every day, I see posts from women who are overwhelmed and exhausted by their lot in life. They are working outside the home because financially there is no choice. They are also doing the bulk of household chores, managing the family, and rearing the kids. And when they speak to their partners, they are dismissed. Their partner works and is tired after his day at work. He’s also not good or skilled at housework or tending to the needs of the kids or seemingly doing anything that supports his partner.

There is also an insurmountable amount of posts where these overwhelmed and exhausted women are being bullied by their partners for not wanting regular sex. As a society, we should be ashamed of ourselves for not only allowing this but at times encouraging it.

If this isn’t sad or disappointing enough, we then have women commenting on these posts in defence of the men.

Here are some of the astounding comments I’ve read:

>> Write your partner a list of what you want him to do.

>> Men don’t think the way we do, so you need to teach them.

>> If he’s worked all day, he needs some down time, so let him have that before nagging him.

>> Men crave sex and intimacy and would be more open to “helping out” if they were getting regular sex. It’s your duty as a wife and expected as part of being married.

>> Being a parent doesn’t come as naturally to a father as it does a mother, so they need more help.

>> You’re lucky your husband babysits the kids once a week, so you can have some time out.

>> Men aren’t mind readers and don’t know what needs to be done if you don’t tell them.

Every single one of those comments is misogynistic. And every single one of those comments is supporting weaponised incompetence and manipulation. I am shocked and horrified that so many women are living in this situation. That it’s deemed as okay for these women to take the bulk of the mental and physical load, as well as work.

Let’s break these comments down:

>> Make a list: why does a functioning adult need a list to understand what needs to be done in his house and with the family he lives with? Why does any woman think that we should be making list for a grown ass man? How does a man function alone if he has nobody to write him a list? How does he cope in the workplace if someone is constantly writing him a list?

>> Thinking differently: I understand we all think differently, but as adults we need to take responsibility to learn if we’re inept or incompetent in an area of our life that needs us to be competent and learn the skills. If men can run companies, run countries, run businesses, they sure as hell can be an equal partner in running a household. Women do not need to teach men.

>> Worked all day: this one gets me every single time. I agree everyone needs some down time, but when are these women getting a break? You both get downtime once the paid work is complete, the household chores are done, and the children’s needs are met. Nobody is more worthy of rest than another.

>> Men crave sex: some men do crave sex, just as some women do. But here’s the clincher: if you are doing nothing to emotionally support your partner, nothing to ease your partner’s burdens with running the house and managing the kids, don’t expect her to have the energy or the desire for sex. Actually, don’t expect her to want to come near you. Communicate. Support. Be an equal partner in all aspects.

>> Being a parent doesn’t come naturally for men: this one is becoming old. All of us are new to parenting when we first have a child. It may seem natural, but I can assure you, we mothers struggle also. We also have to adapt to our changing body, our hormones, breast-feeding, and the lack of sleep. Our partners can play a huge role in supporting us through this. Our partners also have eyes and ears and can tend to the child’s needs as well as us.

>> Lucky your husband babysits: babysits? It’s not babysitting when it’s your own child. Equal parenting should be what we strive for. Spending time alone with your kids isn’t a superpower but simply being a parent. If a man is not prepared to partake in active parenting, to step up and change nappies, feed kids, bathe kids, read to kids, play with kids, put kids to bed, and spend quality time with their own offspring, they shouldn’t have kids. Why do we reward a father for simply being a father, yet we judge mother’s so harshly for not being perfect?

>> Men aren’t mind readers: nobody is a mind reader, but when you see dishes in the sink, you wash them. When there’s washing to be done, you put on a load of washing. When the kids need to be fed, you feed them. When your child needs to see a doctor, dentist, or be taken to an activity, men are just as capable.

Sometimes when we read posts like this, we try and see all sides. We try and understand, but what some are doing far too frequently is judging the women. We make excuses for the men’s behaviour, his lack of support, his inability to see what needs to be done. And every time we do that, we support weaponised incompetence.

Time and time again, I see posts from men reminiscing about “the good old days.” The days when marriages lasted and the women were in their feminine energy catering to their man’s needs. When women didn’t work and their sole purpose was to look after their husband and kids.

They are angry men and blame feminism for the change in the status quo. They waffle on about how more women apply for divorce than men and how men have everything taken from them. They speak of their hatred toward independent women and refer to them as masculine. According to these men, feminism is the downfall of relationships and men.

In all their bitter rhetoric, not once have I seen personal responsibility. Accountability. Not once do they talk about their part in the demise of their relationship. Not once have they accepted that their beliefs and behaviours could contribute to the breakdown of their marriage. Not once have they expressed that the conditioning from the patriarchy could be partly to blame. Not once have I seen self-reflection or introspection of where they could have done better. Not once have they admitted that many women in “the gold old days” were unhappy, even abused, but couldn’t leave.

The desire for some to go back is due to an unwillingness to change and grow. An inability to step up and be an equal partner and parent. A desire to have a woman, their spouse, be their mother, their maid, their nanny, their chef, and their sex slave. And a desire to continue to manipulate with weaponised incompetence. These aren’t men, they are boys who have never been taught life skills or emotional intelligence. They’ve never been taught to respect and value women as equal.

I’m so fortunate that I have had many men in my life show they know how to be equal partners. My dad always contributed to the household chores, cooking, and parenting, and in later life was my mum’s full-time carer for 20 years—where he did most things and sex was off the table due to how ill my mum was.

In my marriage, my husband did his fair share of everything. Raised by a single mum for many years, he was taught early on what was required to run a house and a family. I worked full-time whilst raising the kids equally with my husband; my career was as important as his. My son cooks, cleans, and is supportive of women being valued and equal. Both my grandfathers were men who would jump in and share the load. So for me personally, I have been blessed.

Sadly, I’m seeing so many other women who are not so lucky. Day after day, post after post, I see sad and exhausted women who are at their wits end looking for support and being offered support but also being offered advice on being better and what they can do to help their partner contribute more—a backhanded way of blaming them for their partner’s lack of support. Adding more mental load to the woman, suggesting she do lists or teach her partner. An adult. A functioning adult with a job, a man who can organise a night out with the boys. Or can turn up to his golf days or get to the gym each day without a list. But he apparently can’t see the dishes in the sink. Or can’t hear the baby crying or the kids whining. He needs a list for these. Really? This is women supporting women?

Let’s stop telling women to mother their partners. Let’s stop telling them to write lists and teach men how to be adults. Let’s stop congratulating men for doing the bare minimum. Let’s raise our sons right and teach them how to be emotionally available and supportive partners, who have the ability to see what needs to be done. Let’s stop expecting women to have sex if they don’t want to and start looking at why they don’t want to have sex.

Let’s check our own internal misogyny, so we aren’t adding to the burden of so many women. Let’s call out the lack of support for what it is: laziness and weaponised incompetence.

If we keep allowing this and keep telling the women to do more, we are going to end up with an epidemic of broken women, walking away from relationships, and a deluge of angry men blaming women for leaving. Blaming feminism. Blaming everyone except themselves because they’ve never been taught accountability and responsibility. Enough is enough.

Let’s raise the bar because surely we don’t want our daughters experiencing this or our sons behaving like this. Surely we don’t want little children witnessing this.

It’s 2024 and it’s time to do better and be better.

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