Actually, @BrianKelm, you are wrong (see links at bottom of post).
Men and women want to direct their lives, their days and their downtime. This is true for males and females, men and women, boys and girls. No one wants to be constantly reminded that they have failed to do something that someone else wants them to do. No one.
But let’s look at what constitutes nagging, which is a negative behavior typically attributed to women, especially wives, mothers and girlfriends.
“Nagging takes the form of verbal reminders, requests and pleas,” Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW says on WebMD.com. “It goes from a reminder to a nag when the person who is being reminded gets offended.”
The rest of the WebMD article is filled with well-meaning advice for those who suffer from the horrible habit of nagging others to get what they want.
I propose that the behavior that is characterized as nagging is nothing more than one person who does not have enough power in a relationship attempting to communicate his or her needs.
In many cases, this behavior occurs because one person feels an unequal distribution of responsibility and desires a true partner in life. But is it just that?
I think what we most often call nagging is simply female leadership and responsibility.
I propose that calling female leadership in relationships and the family nagging constitutes silencing behavior by men and women.
It is also a part of the effort to keep women as objects for men’s pleasure and use.
This is a perfect example of male power being asserted in potential relationships, right? Men define what is considered desirable in women and women either toe the line or get no men. Except this is a woman. I admit that I am confused by this mentality.
In my English literature classes I marveled at the female writers who never married. For most young women, the idea of never getting married might seem foreign and bizarre. There must have been something wrong with Emily Dickinson; no man wanted her, right? She must have been ugly or difficult or mentally ill.
Nah, she was free to write and that was all that mattered to her (while she cared for her parents and their house, of course).
How happy is the little Stone
That rambles in the Road alone,
And doesn’t care about Careers
And Exigencies never fears—
Whose Coat of elemental Brown
A passing Universe put on,
And independent as the Sun
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute Decree
In casual simplicity—
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the only way a woman could have any power over her own life was to remain unmarried and have enough money (and an understanding father or brother or lover) to allow her some freedom.
What options were available to women when they had almost no legal rights, could not vote, could not own property and were not allowed to, in most cases, manage their own wealth.
What careers were open to women?
Men could legally beat and rape their wives in most cultures, and still can in some.
Fast forward to contemporary times. We have a man and a woman in a traditional relationship (this is just an example). In most cases, the man can do whatever the hell he wants without question or judgment during working hours. He has a career, might be the primary earner, so he must work long hours. He is unavailable the majority of working hours to handle the hundreds of tasks required to manage a family, assuming there are children now. Those tasks fall upon his wife even if she works full-time outside the home.
Ask any man who has stayed home while his wife was the primary breadwinner what it is like to manage a family. I encourage you to ask a man because if you ask a woman, her voice has less weight and import to the discussion – that is a whole ‘nother blog post.
Here is an enlightening Huffington Post article from a male perspective about what it is like to be a man in a family and to stay at home with the kids: Douchebaggery and the Stay at Home Dad by Christopher Noxon.
“Must be hard on his manhood,” Noxon says. “Must make up for it in other ways.”
Noxon goes on to describe behavior such as turning “diaper changes into acts of performance art when company is around but who otherwise leave the dirty jobs to mom.”
And this is a big part of the problem: men have had a choice in what domestic tasks they undertake and women haven’t.
Watching old movies about poor women who have been left with a houseful of kids, it is common to hear the comment: “At least the kids and house are clean.”
Would anyone ever say that about a man whose wife ran off and left him with the kids? Of course not. How many times are men forgiven if their kids’ clothes don’t match, hair isn’t combed, and school lunch consists of a peanut butter sandwich and a soft drink (okay, single dad tropes abound here).
Single dads and even married dads often get a pass.
We all know that in the majority of two-income households women still do the housework, cooking, shopping and caring for children (yes, this is documented though changing slowly).
These are responsibilities, not just chores. If they are not done not only do the children suffer but you will end up with child services knocking at your door accompanied by a couple of cops demanding entry (Big Brother is watching).
Yes, this is the scenario that not only floats around in most female parents’ heads, but is also a reality.
So let’s talk about nagging.
In the majority of cases, women are carrying the load of family responsibilities. Most are also working full or part-time outside the home in addition to the full-time job of running a household.
There is a shit-load of stuff that must be done every single day. I can attest that this stuff is exhausting. I can attest that it all needs to be done the next day, too. Again, it is exhausting. It really never gets less exhausting (and is never fun or entertaining).
Let’s examine the common middle class family (and here are some lovely Tweets to help you with this mental picture).
And then there are these words of wisdom from what looks like a teenage boy:
These Tweets seem to be posted by spoiled, bratty teenagers and adults who still expect their mommy’s and women to do what? Take care of the family and household.
It is a parent’s job to prepare his or her children for the real world. This involves gradually increasing responsibility while teaching life skills.
In the U.S., there seems to be a problem with this process. Kids are spoiled and entitled and rarely work for what they possess. At what point do they learn how to deal with the responsibilities of an adult life if they are cared for well into their 20s.
Male children have historically been cared for well into adulthood, while female children were taught to care for themselves and others from a young age (I know I am generalizing, but overall this holds true).
We are living in the 21st century. We have equal rights, shared responsibilities, two incomes…
And yet, women are still taking care of the hundreds of big and small tasks that are required to maintain a household and care for a family.
Hell, women want men (and sons and daughters) to step up. That is what most women want. They want their men to be grownups. Do something that isn’t self-focused. Care for someone else without being reminded or told to do so.
Why does a woman have to ask a man (or a son or a daughter) to do anything? He or she should just do it.
Take out the fracking trash. Wash the dishes. Vacuum the house. Walk the damn dog.
I tell my sons that the goal is responsibility, not task completion.
One of my sons is responsible for two jobs that he does not do unless I threaten him with losing computer access. That makes me a nag, right?
No, it doesn’t. It makes me responsible for his jobs.
And for the Troglodyte young woman “Mimi” who thinks that the perfect woman should stop nagging and take care of herself and “be tight” for her man: what are you on?
Women perpetuating the myth of nagging is just wrong.
Real men are faithful, responsible, take care of business, don’t treat their partners like servants and sex slaves, and aren’t entitled little boys.
Nagging??? That is NOT the problem.
I want to leave this blog post on a positive note. Thanks @JimParedes for Tweeting this:
Town and Country Magazine’s article about this subject credits “nagging moms” with helping their daughters to be more successful in life.
A University of Essex in England study found that “the girls with moms who set high standards for them growing up were more likely to go on to college and earn higher wages,” Kristen Lauletti said.
Why is a mother’s leadership characterized as nagging in this article, though?
I think it is time to change the language we use to describe female behavior.