Sunday, December 08, 2013

Great strides for high-achieving women

-Yes, yes yes! I could not be more pleased about the phenomenon of high-powered women marrying stay-at-home dudes. The elite-women-and-work conversation has far too often assumed that every woman wants/needs to be with a man at least as ambitious as she is, in a job that's at least as time-consuming. It becomes this discussion of power couples, ignoring the obvious practical benefits of one partner doing more at home, being more geographically flexible, etc. Feminism means either 50-50 marriages or that staying home (or "staying home" loosely defined, to include any couple's lower-paid, lower-power career) doesn't default along gender lines.

-Not all women, however, are cut out for high finance. Some of us have other... capabilities. For example: Last night at the party where I tried (and failed) to wear heels, I discovered a 'skill' I hadn't known I had, but had suspected. I am, I think, a supertaster. In a blind taste test, I could not only tell what color gummy bear I was eating by taste, but also by smell alone: to the amazement of fellow party-goers, I correctly identified that a gummy bear smelled red. This after having had a few gummy bears that evening, but none, prior to that, probably since being a kid.

Why did this happen? The group had been divided over whether the bears were actually different flavors, or whether we just thought they were because of the different colors. To me, it was clear there were subtle but distinct variations. A deep childhood sense-memory (I think it's called) about what artificial orange, cherry, etc. taste like (clearly I grew up before the food movement) came back to me, despite, again, not generally seeking this out as an adult. I was able to set aside the rubbery texture and hone in on which artificial flavor I was dealing with. Effortlessly.

4 comments:

caryatis said...

Congratulations on the tasting! Maybe this is why you seem to like cheese?

I agree with most of what you say about asymmetrically career-minded couples. I'm not sure we should be equally sanguine, though, about breadwinner/housespouse couples as about the lower-paid or less ambitious spouse with a higher-paid one. How would you respond to the criticism (in the WSJ article as well as Friedan) that it's hard to be a housewife but because 1) it drives inequality within the couple 2) leaves the housespouse very vulnerable in the event of divorce 3) isolates her from adult life 4) makes it difficult to reenter the job market and 5) tends to erode self-esteem and is associated with higher rates of depression?

Now, assume that sexism doesn't exist and I think we still have a lot of those problems.

Petey said...

"Last night at the party where I tried (and failed) to wear heels"

Have you considered the more convenient alternative of foot binding?

"In a blind taste test, I could not only tell what color gummy bear I was eating by taste, but also by smell alone: to the amazement of fellow party-goers, I correctly identified that a gummy bear smelled red."

I have also been able to do this in the past. Pretty damn easy, IMHO.

Phoebe said...

Caryatis,

I agree that there's a difference between doing nothing outside the home/for pay and doing something less ambitious/lower-paid. Yet in these conversations, the two things tend to get conflated. There isn't always a clear place to draw the line, and lots of things get rounded down to house-spouse. Plus, what's "pin money" in one family is a livable income in another. There's a lot of leeway where one spouse might make enough less for there to be a power imbalance, but not so much less as to indicate having left the workforce.

Items 1-4 do hold, though, for the full-on stay-at-home spouse, who's entirely disconnected from the workforce. That said, there are also disadvantages to being the must-work-long-hours spouse, such as having to get moving, likely in uncomfortable clothes, early in the morning. In all seriousness, when household roles go by gender, the men who'd be much better-suited to a slower-paced life end up suffering, too, if not as drastically.

What I'd like to see is for society to get to a place where everyone ends up in the role that suits them, rather than a) defaulting to a gender role, or b) needing to be wildly ambitious just to put food on the table, or just to make sure that on the off-chance one's spouse leaves, one can do so. Item (b), of course, requires a social safety net this country doesn't have.

Petey,

Or, you're a supertaster as well. The others at the party were stunned, and I, like, won a contest. Not everyone can do this.

Petey said...

"Or, you're a supertaster as well."

Semantically, given my taste preferences, and what I guess to be your taste preferences, neither of us are supertasters.

In fact, methinks you fundamentally misunderstand the meaning of "supertaster".

(In short, they like bland food, and have trouble with sharp flavors.)