International women’s day: how culture defines relationships

Because international women’s day is THIS FRIDAY! I am sharing posts on feminism and what it means to me and the people around me. As I was raised in a mixed family where my mum is from Zimbabwe and my dad is Belgian I would love to share how this has affected and changed my look on feminism and on equality as a whole.

I believe in equality butt…

I feel like equality in western culture is very different compared to Southern African culture. Because I take after my mum when it comes to feminity and the role of the woman in the household my take on this is very different than my friends whose parents are Belgian. For example, my mum always takes the time to cook and take care of the house even if she works full time.

To her, it is a way of showing love and care for her family. It’s something she wants to do for us, she sees it as the task of a wife and mother. (We had a very long conversation so I am paraphrasing and not making assumptions).
It’s part of her culture and that also means it’s part of mine.

In the western world, a lot of things are changing in regards to housework. With a new feminist movement and women fighting for more equality not only at work but also in their personal lives. Working in the home and taking care of family members has become a task for both partners to do together.

My perspective is of formed by what I see at home and what I see when I step out of my house. In my first real relationship (I define this as a relationship where I was older and started making plans for the future) I felt a need to take care of my boyfriend the same way my mum does for our family.  And this is very stereotypical. For instance, I would feel like I should cook for him or bring him breakfast or clean even if he was perfectly capable of doing those things himself. It’s just the way I see it and I am happy with it that way.

Now the role of the man is also very defined and maybe old fashion to some. My dad comes from a very traditional family in Belgium with the same Christian ideals as my mum. This means that the husband takes care of his wife. Just in a different way, it’s more about protecting and making sure she has everything she needs (of course within reason).

These ideas have also changed in western culture recently. Female liberation is a real thing and giving women the ability to work and be independent of their husbands is something very important I support completely. But in my personal relationships, I am a bit different because of my upbringing.

The problem when dating

As my upbringing defines the way how I look at relationships it’s not always easy to date. In my past relationship, my ex-boyfriend didn’t understand why I would bring him breakfast or want to take care of him in the same way my mum has done for us.

Equally, I didn’t understand why he wasn’t taking care of me. These are very small things like getting up and turning on the heating when he would see I’m cold. His ideas of relationships were very different than mine.

But I am a feminist

Just because I have a certain culture and am brought up in a certain way doesn’t mean I don’t believe n equality. In my personal relationships, I choose to take care of whoever I am with. It’s not something I should ever feel forced to do and shouldn’t be judged for. Being treated the same way as a man outside of my personal relationships and getting the same pay cheque just seems obvious to me. Women shouldn’t be judged for the choices they make and the relationships they want and what they want to do in their own households.

The importance of chooses.

A woman should be able to choose her role and not feel pressured to do things. As long as both partners are happy and don’t feel pressure to do something they don’t want, theirs anything wrong.

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