8 Things Women Should Actually Be Doing

And although we sometimes have to do things we don’t love, you should never feel like you HAVE to do some particular thing because you were born with a vagina.

Not too long ago, I happened upon this article floating around Facebook. I knew– I KNEW– I would not love it. But I clicked on it any way. It did not take long for the article to get me heated.

8 Things Women Just Don’t Do Anymore (that they should!)

Let’s start at the start, shall we? The title is, “8 Things Women Just Don’t Do Anymore (but should!)” Immediately I sensed this could potentially set us back decades. My mind was swimming with images of that article from the 1950s about how to be a “good” housewife. You know the one…

Image and text originally from Housekeeping Monthly. This image from j-walk.com.
Image and text originally from Housekeeping Monthly. This image from j-walk.com.

In the intro to her article, author Tara Carr seems to praise the ladies depicted in the movie Mona Lisa Smile, who went to college not for a degree but to find a man, “get married as soon as possible and put those Home Ec skills to good use!” She mentions that now it is ok to have a career and your own mind and “what not,” but encourages women to do at least some things the “old fashioned” way.

To delve into the “meat and potatoes of the article, lets play a little game of “she says, we say.”

Are you ready?

Carr says… OpBeaut says…

(Firstly, change all those “women” to “humans,” because these ‘shoulds’ apply to the entire species)

Carr encourages women to cook because, “you need to know how to make two or three meals for your man that he will love.” You should cook so you can eat. Your partner, if you have one, should likewise cook so he/she can eat. If you enjoy cooking, yay! If your partner enjoys cooking, yay! And although we sometimes have to do things we don’t love, you should never feel like you HAVE to cook because you were born with a vagina. You can always order take out.
Women should clean because, “while your husband/boyfriend should be able to pick up after himself, as the woman of the house, you should be able to maintain a clean house.” Cleaning kills germs that make us sick. Keeping yourself, and the household, healthy is the responsibility of the entire household. We are all in this together, folks.

Also, it is an antiquated (and damaging) notion that our homes are in any way a reflection of our worth. We are supposed to live there, make memories there, and share there. Our homes are not meant to make us look good. No matter what Pintrest says. If you and your family are comfortable and healthy, you win!

(You can’t use this as an excuse to be yucky and hoard-y. Stay on the healthy side, mmk?)

Women should fix their man’s plate because it is a sign of honor and respect, especially when in public. She encourages women to have a “servant’s heart,” noting that when you honor and respect him, he should return the favor. C’mon guys. We fix plates for children and elderly family members that maybe can’t stand in the buffet line for very long. I can’t help but think it might be a little insulting for someone to fix my plate for me, especially in public.

Now, there may be exceptions to this. Like when you want to keep extra bodies out of your tiny kitchen. Or when you want to encourage some portion control. But, don’t get it twisted. Acting like a servant is not a sign of respect.

Women should watch their mouths because cursing is “just not attractive.” She does make a valid (and obvious) point that cursing should be avoided in certain places, like church, school, and in front of *his* new boss. As with many of these “shoulds,” it isn’t necessarily the “should” that I take issue with as much as the WHY.

Cursing has been around forever, and as my mom says, sometimes it’s not a ‘poop’ its a SH**. Curse words are still just words, and we use words to express ourselves everyday. Society deems it as inappropriate in some environments, as Carr mentioned. (I would obviously add that you should probably not cuss in front of *your* boss either, BTdubs). But again, you should not be made to feel like you can’t say what you want to say because it’s “not attractive.”

Women should dish out compliments, pointing to female characters from 1950s sitcoms as an example. She notes that, while compliments should go both ways, “men should receive way more compliments than women because they are way more sensitive and insecure than they let on.” We all know that sitcom characters perfectly and always mirror humans in the real world, so this is totally legit right off the bat. Right??

I have nothing against compliments. And I agree with Carr that they should go both ways. But be cautious here. Don’t go throwing around compliments just because you think that is what you are “supposed” to do. If you think your fella (or lady) is looking particularly smashing this morning, obviously let him/her know. But forcing your language or behavior to fit a preconceived “ideal” is pretty much never a good idea.

Always keep yourself up. Carr laments that “nowadays, women are so comfortable and lax that they’ll just go out looking any kind of way and don’t really invest effort into maintaining their bodies in general.” She encourages women to “Work out. Eat healthy. Look presentable. Take care of yourself.” BECAUSE, “You are a reflection of your man. Make him look good!” AHHHHHH!!!

This one goes against EVERYTHING we are trying to do here at OpBeaut. Again, let me clarify, it is not the “should” that is the problem, it is the WHY.

Excercise? YES! Eat healthy? YES! Take care of yourself? PLEEEEEASE!

But not, never, no way, no how should you EVER do any of those things in order to MAKE HIM LOOK GOOD.

So, why DO you do those things?? Well, your answer might be different than mine, and you may have to do some soul searching on this one. I made the decision to exercise more regularly because I want to be healthy enough to travel and be active when I FINALLY retire. And if my girls decide to have children, I want to be able to run and play with them like I am able to run and play with my girls now. I also love how my body continues to surprise me by what it can do when I get out of it’s way.

Women should continue to dress up for dates, no matter how long you have been together. “Keep doing what you did to get him,” BECAUSE, “he will definitely notice and appreciate the extra effort.” Nope.

“You don’t owe your prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying the space marked ‘female’.”

(Quote taken from this lovely post by Erin McKean on A Dress A Day)

If you want to dress up, dress up. It can be super fun. If the idea of dressing up makes you cringe, don’t dress up. Again, never ever do or say anything because you think it is what is “expected” of you.

And do we need to even get into the “what you did to get him” bit? He’s not a fish. And you are not a pretty worm on a hook.

Lastly, women should anticipate his needs by doing things like, “have a cold beer waiting, a cigar, and dinner on the table.” Annnnnd we are back to the servant stuff again. Come on, now.

Every once in awhile (like maybe a birthday or anniversary?), I think it can be fun to just spoil the heck out of someone. Massage? Sure!  Beer? Let me pop that top for ya! Your favorite dinner? Already on the table!

But these are things that should be done in a loving and playful way because YOU WANT to. If you don’t want to, don’t. Your actions and behaviors are up to you. Not your partner. And certainly not a stranger’s ideas of who and what you should be.

Allow me to propose an ALTERNATIVE 8 Things Women Don’t Do, But Should!

  1. Recognize that we are all in this together. Other ladies are not our competition, they are our sisters. We don’t have to explain our life choices to them and they don’t have to explain their life choices to us. You don’t have to breastfeed, and I don’t have to relish in the joy of cooking. We do, however, have to realize that we are all doing the best we can. Let’s lift each other up a little bit more, ok?

2. Remember your worth. (Hint, it’s not tied up in how well you rock those leggings or how spotless your house is)

3.  Be skeptical of the images around you. We know all about the magic of Photoshop, but social media has magical powers, too. We are all guilty of pretty much only posting about things that portray us in a positive light, whether we realize the harmful effects or not. (Have you ever seen someone post, “Couldn’t finish that 5k, but gee whiz I sure tried”?!) The obvious backlash is that we are not seeing the whole person, and these glimpses can make us feel like we are somehow ‘doing it wrong’ because our lives are much more messy than the images we see of others’ lives.  Remember, you are just seeing a glimpse. All of our closets are a wreck.

4.   Throw away the scale, the size 2 pants you will get into “one day,” the picture of yourself in “perfect” shape from 15 years ago that you hope to get back to. Focus on what your body can DO, and celebrate that. The scale does not get to determine your worth.

5.  Do something creative. I read this great book, The War of Art. In it, the author (Steven Pressfield) points out that the thing we should most be doing, is often the thing we are most afraid to do. He writes, “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.” Wanna do something? Do it.

6. ‘No’ is ok. This one I struggle with…a lot! Often times, I have at least 10 things I want to do swimming around in my head. And, most of the time, I don’t have the courage to pursue any of them. I am really good at making excuses for myself. Stop me if you have heard any of these: it’s just not the right time; I am too busy with such-and-such; we just can’t afford it; my kids need me to be doing whatever. All of these excuses tend to cover up the true hindrance: fear. I am afraid of failing. So I don’t try. In fact, I have been holding onto this blog for over a year, but I just now started posting and telling people about it because I was afraid it would fail. I was afraid I would put myself out there, ask people to like it, and they would say ‘no.’ But NO is ok. It is much better than ‘I wonder…’ and infinitely better than ‘hey! I had that idea too!’ And if NO is the worst that can happen, then we are in pretty good shape.

7. Remember, you got this.

8. Look in the mirror, channel Paris Hilton, and say out loud “That’s hot!”

Here’s the take away: women like my mom and those before her fought hard for women’s rights. They didn’t fight for us to go to school. They didn’t fight for us to go to work. They fought for us to have the right to CHOOSE those things if we want them. They fought for that woman balancing full-time work and full-time motherhood to be able make her own path. They also fought for that full-time stay-at-home mom to be able to make HER own path. They did not fight so that a stranger could tell us what we should and not be doing in our relationships. (I mean, she has the right to tell us and all, but we reserve the right to ignore it).


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