Mr. JudgyBitch and I live in a small town where we do a lot of casual entertaining. Lots of potlucks and BBQs and picnics and dinner parties at home. There is one thing I do that drives other women insane: I always fetch a plate for Mr. JudgyBitch and keep his drink topped up. Other men notice this too, and will sometimes say crap to their girlfriends/wives along the lines of “why don’t I get my plate brought to me?”, which earns me lots of hatred from the gals most decidedly NOT fetching anything for anyone ever, period, fullstop.
I feel like there is a profound misunderstanding about WHY I take such good care of Mr. JudgyBitch, and honestly, every other guest in my house, too. If you come for dinner at my place, I will mix your drinks, bring you a plate, take away your plate after you are done, and just generally make sure you are comfortable and at ease. If you look cold, I will get you a sweater. If you look hot, I will bring you a hat and some ice water. If the sun is in your eyes, I will bring you sunglasses or get the ones you left on the counter for you.
My very good friend NurseRatchet once asked me, genuinely curious, if I LIKED being a servant. “You wait on everyone hand and foot,” she said to me, as I refilled her wine glass, “and you spoil the shit out of your husband. He doesn’t lift a finger around here”. I just kept pouring, even though the bottle was sitting right in front of her and she could easily have done it herself. She watched me peel oranges for everyone outside on the deck and was sincerely mystified as to why I would do that. Why not just bring a bowl of oranges outside and a bowl for scraps and let everyone peel their own damn orange?
A lot of women see my care taking actions, especially when it comes to food and drinks, as servile. As if I am lowering myself, debasing myself to the position of a humble serf by the simple act of opening a beer and carrying it to someone who wants one. They see it as beneath them, humiliating, degrading and shameful. And the unspoken accusation is that as a WOMAN, quite probably serving a MAN (although I take excellent care of my female guests, too), I am somehow betraying my gender and reinforcing the grossest of inequalities. I am a kitchen wench. A peasant. chattel, and nothing more. Mindless, obedient and acquiescent.
Ha! Ask Mr. JudgyBitch about that one!
Here’s why I peel oranges for my husband and children and guests: because it’s fucking nice, that’s why. Oranges are messy and the pith gets all under your fingernails and the juice drips and squirts everywhere when you try to separate the segments and your hands are left sticky and wet (although they smell really nice) and it’s just really nice and thoughtful to get an orange already peeled and segmented on a plate with a napkin. IT’S NICE!
I take pride in being a gracious hostess. My happiness comes from making other people happy. I see a need and I meet it, and that makes me feel useful and when it’s met with gratefulness, it makes me feel appreciated. I am blessed, I suppose, to have people who acknowledge and appreciate my work, and IT IS WORK.
I don’t think I have ever had a male guest who treated me with contempt for being an attentive hostess. Some are embarrassed and feel guilty, because they have been taught that
“the personal is always political”
and if you let a woman take your dirty plate back to the kitchen so you can continue your conversation, it must mean you hate women and that makes you a bad person. It’s really absurd. But for the most part, men are pleased and grateful for my attention to their needs.
Women, on the other hand, will often shower me with contempt and act like I am “showing them up” by being thoughtful and kind, even when the kindness is directed at them. I get comments like “when does he (Mr. JB) ever do anything for you?” or “do you ever sit down”? Usually said by some lardass sitting down while I fetch her a bowl of nuts to snack on.
Underwriting those kinds of comments is the assumption that what I’m doing isn’t work. If I were a lawyer or a caterer or a widget factory marketing rep, and I was fully willing and prepared to go the extra mile for my clients and make certain that everything was just as it should be, I would be considered a stellar employee. The slackers might hate me, but the boss would love me and so would the clients. But because I’m “just a housewife”, having the same conscientious attitude towards my work makes me an object of contempt and derision. I’m not working, I’m grovelling. An indentured servant, seeking to please the master and nothing more.
Well fuck that noise! I AM working, and I am damn good at my job and I will not apologize for it.
Critical comments about Mr. JudgyBitch in particular are insulting on a whole other level. What does Mr. JudgyBitch do for me? Oh, nothing, other than PAY EVERY DAMN BILL THAT COMES INTO OUR HOUSE. He earns every penny that our family lives on, and I have the privilege and pleasure of being in a comfortable, well stocked home, with my three lovely children as a result of his work and willingness to support us and I don’t think fixing him a burger and opening a beer is a huge price to pay for that!
At the end of the day, I am grateful to have the life I do, and I am grateful that I can focus on making the lives of the people I love and care about a little nicer. Being nice isn’t a plot of the patriarchy to keep women down. It’s a key part of having loving, harmonious relationships with all kinds of people. It’s the lubricant of every social event. It’s a the balm that can soothe little injuries and big ones, too.
And someone has to go first. Why not you?
Be nice today. Even to men. Especially to men. And to other women, too. Be nice to everyone. And hey, could you get me a beer while you’re up?
Lots of love,