Jane Doe, the author of this post, is not the name of any actual person. Jane Doe is an anonymous account under which women can feel free to share stories they normally would not feel comfortable sharing publicly. For more information read “Who is Jane Doe?”
Welcome to November! With the arrival of colder weather has come the yearning for warm weather, at least for me. Because of this, my husband and I recently booked a vacation to a warmer climate for a week. When I took the time off I submitted it in a request via our HR program and it was approved a day later. My husband took his request a step further and spoke to his manager about it. They covered expectations for his time off and he mentioned to his boss that he wouldn’t be checking his email while he was gone. His boss then said “Oh, is your REAL boss (me) making you do that?”. To which my husband just laughed and agreed.
That night he came home and told me what happened. At first, I thought it was funny. For whatever reason, it’s funny to joke about the woman in a relationship being the “Boss”. I don’t know if this is funny because it’s comical to think of a woman bossing around a man, or because woman are bossy by nature (according to stereotypes), or it’s just funny because it’s funny. Either way, this type of joke has become a mainstay in our society. However, the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I was, for multiple reasons.
- His boss has never met me and knows very little about our relationship (he’s only been working with him since August). He has no basis to assume that I am some naggy, bossy wife who tells/makes/forces her husband to do things against his will. I’m not, and I know my husband would not go for that any more than I would accept that behavior from him.
- I never asked my husband to refrain from checking his email. To be honest, it never came up and he never consulted me about it. When I asked my husband why he agreed with it, he said he did because he didn’t want to have to check his email while we were on vacation and it gave him a way out. By laughing it off he inadvertently perpetuated the negative stereotype without meaning to.
- The fact that he felt so pressured to continue to work while on vacation is sad to me. I know it’s ingrained in men that they need to “provide” but how much is too much? Men shouldn’t feel like they have to work or come up with an excuse to not work when big events are happening in their life. It seems like men are expected to prioritize working over all else or they aren’t “providing” as men.
I know his boss didn’t mean any harm by saying this; it’s an easy way to joke around and avoid real issues. But this kind of talk doesn’t do anyone any good. This is one example from my life, but it is an issue that goes both ways. I know in the past I’ve rolled my eyes while talking to a friend about how “all men are dogs”. I don’t really feel this way, I love men and know a lot really good men, but in the moment it was the easy thing to say. I can’t tell you how often I see memes like this on the internet. The more we treat people a certain way, whether we classify them as crazy, jerks, lazy or bossy, the more likely they are to live up to that name. This is an issue we should work on as a society and try to think before we joke.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.” – Ghandi
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.