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Feminists and Upper Body Strength

23 Mar
Speaking of feminist friends, did you know that once upon a time, my own feminism was called into question? It’s true! A former lover once quipped, “You? Oh, I never thought you were a feminist. I mean, you always said things when we were moving like, ‘Let’s get a bunch of menfolk to help with the heavy stuff.’ ”
It’ true – I have the upper body strength of a gnat, and (now) a bad back to boot, so moving heavy objects isn’t my strong suit. I also reside in an income bracket where professional moving help is mostly out of the question, so it’s to the friend-and-family bank I go when it’s time to uproot house and home. Once I even had to relocate a piano twice in a matter of a few months, and you bet I activated my strapping-young-man phone tree for that odious task.
Aforementioned former flame took me to task not for my twig-like arms, but for my choice of genders to help. “Let’s get a bunch of menfolk to help,” not “Let’s get a bunch of nonspecifically-gendered suckers to help.” Clearly, I was in the wrong.

But still. I often find myself turning to the Y chromosome for help lifting heavy things, or for walks home in unfamiliar and/or dark/shadowy nabes. It’s ingrained behavior that’s reinforced and rewarded – even among my progressive peer group. But does it negate my feminism bona fides more than the makeup I wear most days? The makeup is a concession to the patriarchy – one that helps me to fit in at work, among other things – and so is the moving help. They’re comparable concessions, certainly. And like a nudist that puts on pants to avoid arrest, putting on makeup to avoid ostracism is hardly a punishable offense. But asking for moving help from men only? Definitely wrong. So ladies, next time I move, you’ll be getting a call.

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