Partner Privilege (Pt. 1)

After re-reading one of my old posts, I came across this little snippet that reminded me that I wanted to expand on this more substantively at a later date:

Sometimes I overhear parents with partners bitching about how hard it is for them to do this or that because of kids and I think… wow. If they only knew how good, how much easier they have it. With a partner, you can have them watch the baby while you recover from illness. With a partner, they can do the food shopping and make you soup while you rest. With a partner, you can have a break. With a partner, you can sleep occasionally. Or clean when you’re feeling well. Or a host of numerous other productive and righteous things.

So that later date is now. And ‘partner privilege’ very much IS a thing. I’ve actually had to think about this a lot because I’ve mentioned my musings on it to several different people, mostly women with partners (go figure…), and every time I’ve suggested that it’s a thing they sort of snap back with slightly self-righteous ‘Oh… well, I dunno about THAT’ or ‘Yeah, but it can be just as hard with a partner too,’ etc. But in my head I’m always like, wait…

WHAT?? Do you even know what you’re talking about???

And the answer is that simply, no, very often they do not know what they’re talking about because they have never been through the experience of single motherhood. They don’t understand the grind, they don’t understand the isolation, they don’t understand the everything else. Unless some sort of tragedy befalls them or they choose to leave their partner and care for their children on their own, they will never understand. They. Don’t. And Won’t. Ever. Get it.

But there’s a thing. There’s this little thing that people with partners do that really gets under my skin. When I tell them that it’s different for me, they often go out of their way to compare my situation with other people that do have partners but are ‘just as exhausted,’ or they compare my situation to other situations that have literally nothing to do with parenting but are meant to make me feel guilty for thinking that this experience is difficult and isolating. It’s the equivalent of them basically saying #AllLivesMatter. All lives do matter, no doubt about it; but right now I’m talking about #SingleMomLife. This is usually when I just look at them and hope karma sweeps in and opens their eyes to some shit. Harsh, I know, but this is something that really annoys me because it’s a violent refusal to acknowledge the struggles many of us experience in a system that is patriarchally rigged against us, stigmatising and erasing us at every corner. It’s a violent refusal to acknowledge the social irresponsibility of men and those institutions that fail to hold these men to account for their harmful actions. As the bringers-forth-of-human-life and the nurturers of current and future generations, we women literally are the Creators of society. So to neutralise this kind of violence against women and children is not only doing the patriarchy’s work for it, it quite literally is anti-social.

I’ve decided I’m not going to tolerate this form of privilege anymore. I love my sisters. But next time someone tells me that there is no difference between my grind and their partner-privileged ass, I’m going to be a good feminist and call them out.

Feminism is not about hiding under a rock with your feelings and opinions. Let them know. The sooner more people understand the struggle, the sooner we will be treated as human beings instead of some marginalised third world country.

There’s more to be said on this. But I’m going to leave it here for right now.

In solidarity,

MD


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