© 2018  Laura Jean Baker

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The 17-Year Itch

August 24, 2018

Honored for my essay on gender equality and marriage to be featured on Longreads.  Please find an excerpt below along with a link to the full essay!

 

 

"Four years ago, in the nook of our L-shaped kitchen on Hazel Street, my husband Ryan — equal partner in marriage — proclaimed, “I think I’m probably a little bit smarter than you.” He paused, remembering to cut me a compliment sandwich. “You just have a better work ethic.”

 

To what did I owe the pleasure of this rare expression of sexism? In our family, men and women belonged at the hearth. Ryan washed dishes, burped babies, and curried meals. We’d just pulled our fifth bun from the oven, a little boy, exactly what Dad had ordered to tip the balance in our two-boy-two-girl household. Are you hoping for a boy or a girl? With the first four pregnancies, he’d dare only to say, “a healthy baby,” but with Gustav, he’d openly declared his preference for the Y chromosome. My husband was sometimes a stranger to me, a throwback, a modern man sprung from an old seed.

 

Experts in family studies predict that by 2050, men in heterosexual partnerships will share equally in housework. That will be a year shy of what may — or may not — be our golden wedding anniversary. But can sociologists predict when men will totally reconfigure their mindsets? Is there such a thing as a blank slate, free from the ghost outlines of patriarchal history?

 

Household chores are tangible problems we solve together. How to empty the sink trap; how to polish the countertops; how to make a bed and sleep in it, alongside your wife. Implicit bias is a much more sinister thing, a bad omen for any marriage founded on equality..."

 

Read the rest at Longreads.com "The 17-Year Itch"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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