The Women Who Keep Men In Check

An animated gif of Jennifer Lopez crossing her arms in an annoyed huf.

I recently met the female coworker of a male friend of mine. Afterwards, he said, "Now you know the two women who keep me in check." (The other, of course, was his wife.)

This statement kept coming back into my brain like a sneaky little cartoon tentacle to bug me.

It's part of the patriarchy that annoys me most: the part that makes women responsible for the behaviour of men. The part that almost, sort of, sounds like the woman has authority but doesn't actually give her any power at all.

It's why a number of women I know who had professional careers before having children questioned going back to those careers where they were expected to be mom at home AND mom to a bunch of grown men at work.

It's a branch of the "men are head of the household but women are the neck" philosophical tree, which people love to use to say that women actually hold the power in a relationship. (Except, of course, for the power of actually being the leader and being able to openly make decisions or use authority at all.)

It's exhausting.

(Also if we haven't yet collectively gotten over the idea of a "head of the household", can we do that now, please?)

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