Women’s Work

Something came up recently that I don’t really want to talk about, but I’m mentioning obliquely here because it’s on my mind and troubling me.

I was reminded of it again this morning when I read this story about a Christian music star who is coming out as gay. The letter he wrote about it is extraordinary–not only because of his honesty about himself and the ways in which he really, really didn’t want to be gay and thought he could just act straight long enough that it would eventually come to him, but because of his honesty about what it did to his wife.

I was also reading recently that it’s very hard for women to get doctors to treat our pain, specifically if it’s related to our reproductive systems, because there’s still this cultural expectation that being a woman is being in pain.

It’s hard to read the story about the Christian music star and not get the sense that his wife is in a very painful spot and that, really, the music star seems to be the only one who is publicly acknowledging that their society has put her in this painful spot–that she’s just expected to mop up after the damage it does to insist gay men marry straight women.

There’s a lot of emotional work that women do that’s mostly invisible. Men get used to this emotional work just happening, I’ve discovered. Most of the most mind-bogglingly strange things that have happened to me in my life have happened because some man needed some emotional work done and didn’t have any idea how to do it himself so he just assumed he could dump it on me and walk away. (And I love processing things with people! So this isn’t “Help me talk this through so it makes sense to me” type stuff. This is something different.)

I don’t know. It’s just troubling. If you hold in your mind the idea that women are always upset, always complaining, then it seems to me it’s easier for you to say to yourself “Well, then, she can just be upset about this, too, so I don’t have to deal with it.”

But you can’t be a whole person if you don’t ever have to deal with your own shit.