This is my life

Ok, Dimitrios - here we go...
Sweden has one of the highest levels of gender equality in the world, which means that everyone, women and men, have the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all areas of life. It sounds really good, doesn’t it? And it is - until that day you start a family of your own. Then suddenly, we all start acting like we lived back in the 50’s, and you find yourself complaining about you have to do everything at home. That your husband/fiancée/ boyfriend doesn’t do exactly as much as you. And the fact that he doesn’t mean that you have failed. The discussion about gender equality seems to never end. Since I became a mum I’ve noticed that this is the big issue argued in most families.

But what if you have a Greek husband? Then you are expected to do everything at home – without arguing. No matter if you have a full time job, you still have to do everything because your man’s job is more important, and no matter how tired you are, he will always be more tired than you. Why? Because he is a man! And a man need a woman to take care of him - make him coffee, cook his dinner, raise his children, support him and so on. I had this discussion with a Greek friend of mine (late in the evening, after some wine), and I promised him to write about why I think this is wrong. The reason is that I don’t think it is fair to be born into obligations. If you choose to do things because you want to, that is one thing. But if you are forced into a position because of your sex, that is wrong.

On the other hand, here in Sweden we put so much time discussing and arguing about this topic that it seems to take all energy out of us. Should we just keep quiet, make that dinner, and save the rest of the energy to clean the house? Sometimes it feels like we would be better off not arguing so much and feel so sorry for ourselves. But I don’t know. I wouldn’t feel ok to just accept the situation when I think it is unfair. Then I would end up as a really bitter woman. I know one thing though, I wouldn’t want to be a Greek wife – but it would be really nice to have one…
#1 - Christian

How can I become a greek man? Besides growing a lot of body hair of course.

#2 - Tessan

Dimitrios, you will have to answer that one...

#3 - Dimitrios Stergiou

First of all, i appreciate that you took the time to write the post. Let's see now:

@Christian: Unfortunately, you cannot. The fault lies in how you are brought up, from a very early stage. You learn that the two sexes are equal, you take cooking classes in school, you learn to do all the things that "girls" are supposed to do. So, eventually when you come to a "relationship" age, it's too late to change anything

@ Tessan: my reply is coming shortly. Since i will have to write a lot of things, i am trying to decide if i will post it as a comment, or have a reply on my blog

#4 - Dimitrios Stergiou

So, i decided to reply here, although i believe that the comment will end up being a sociology study of modern Greece

Let's start from the beginning. Boys and girls grow up with totally different values. While boys play with cars, soldiers and video games, girls play with mini-kitchens, pretend to raise "baby dolls" and follow mum around in the kitchen to see how stuff work

The same continues as we grow up and eventually we reach an age where we need to start forming meaningful relationship (romantic, work, etc). Although Greece is considered to be part of Europe, we are not Europeans. This, for example means:

- If you are a woman, 30+ and married, forget that you will ever find a decent job. Nobody will hire you, cause it is obvious that as soon as you get hired, you will be on maternal leave

- Women get jobs, but very seldom they get careers. So, the higher you move up the career ladder, the fewer women you will find

- and a million more examples that show that women are not treated as equal

Based on the above, we establish that it is the man who will have a "career" and therefore bring the money (or the better money) to the house. Now, contrary to Europe's belief, we work a lot (excluding the public sector). So, a middle to upper management manager is expected to work at least 12 hours / day

Which brings us to: after having worked 12 hours and spent at least 2 on the road (to and from home), the man comes home. Now, since his wife won't be working as "hard", the man expects that certain stuff are in order, like food, clean clothes, tidy place, etc. And unless the couple is "rich" and they can afford a maid, the burden falls to the wife, since she is considered to have more free time…

Another important fact is that even today, a lot of woman see marriage as their destination in life and their salvation. So, they put no effort in the careers, instead they just dream to "marry rich", or at least "marry decent". In such cases, the woman is considered to bring almost nothing to the table, and thus she is expected to handle all the house tasks

I hope i gave you some insight. If not, next weekend we grab some more wine, and we continue the discussion ;)

#5 - Christian

Hmmm I dont like working that much but I do like to be served. What a dilemma. One question Demitrios. Do you think the Greek way is a good way?

#6 - Tessan

I wonder if should get in to this discussion since i am T´s fiance....when i come to think of it, best not!

#7 - Tessan

So, since most Swedish men doesn't work 12 hours a day they are not allowed to demand their women to do everything at home, right? (Tessan again, not Andreas...)

#8 - Dimitrios Stergiou

Let's see now:

@Christian: yes, for me it's a good system. If you ask me if i prefer to work more or do the dishes, i will tell you 100% work more. Obviously this is absolutely personal, since i enjoy my job a lot. If i was "digging holes" for a living, i might prefer work less and contribute at home, but for now...

@Andreas: (i prefer it over T's fiance, since i have heard the name from Tessan). Let me try to convince Tessan first, and then you can join :))

@Tessan: Depends. The thing is that if suddenly they start working more, you will "demand" that they keep up with their domestic duties, and then all hell will break loose

To be absolutely honest, i help at home as well. But if i have the choice of working more (actual work, not hiding at the office) and do house tasks, i will definitely work more

#9 - Tessan

Dimitrios: I think it's a good idea to continue the discussion over some wine. But I can't next weekend though. Andreas is away skiing with friends while I will be at home taking care of the kids...

#10 - Cia

I agree with the fact that Greece is not Europe.

And also. Not all girls play with dolls and follow mommy around in the kitchen. Maby all girls do in Greece but definately not here in the north. We play with cars, hit stupid boys and like to kill things in videogames.

#11 - Dimitrios Stergiou

@Cia: It's not ALL girls that do that, but being a girl/woman in Greece does not provide you with many options. So, eventually, either you will become a boy-ish girl and do all the things you say (and i agree that is good that you are able to do them), or accept "fate" and play the typical role!

As for the "Greece is not part of Europe", i definitely agree with you, but i don't really know if this is our (Greeks) loss or Europe's loss (not being more like us)

#12 - Christian

Ha ha Cia is a boy girl!! Please dont hit me.

#13 - Dimitrios Stergiou

@Christian: Unfortunately, there is no good English word to translate "αγοροκόριτσο" to (the Greek word used to describe girls who do boy stuff - play football, play with cars instead of dolls, prefer gadgets over cosmetics, etc)

#14 - Cia

What I am trying to portray? is that a girl can do both, boys also. I liked dolls when I was young, hated team sports (still do) and today I like make up and the color pink. So I'm a girly girl who also like to hit boys, play video games and NOT cook for anybody!

It shouldn't have to be either way.

#15 - Andreas

This is a truly great debate with good arguments from "both sides"...

I few days ago at the dining table i tried an argument after/because of this discussion.

I said that many men are loosers regarding gender equality, the "right way" to go theese days are that men should contribute at home doing 50% of all domestic tasks (laundry, dinner, cleaning etc) but all the traditional "male task" are still there (shuffling snow, building a house, taking care of cars etc) thus the male "work day" got became an interesting discussion :-)

#16 - Dimitrios Stergiou

@Andreas: excellent argument. Apparently, all tasks that involve physical activities (like the ones you mentioned, plus moving the couch, carrying wood for the fireplace, etc) are traditionally men jobs, since although Tessan is lovely and all, i doubt she can lift a couch ;)

Today i used the "ultimate" argument, when we were discussing something along this line with Tessan. The line was: "You should be happy that you can complain, cause if you were living in Saudi Arabia, you wouldn't even be able to complain". As it seems, I won the argument cause Tessan remained silent...

#17 - Tessan

Well, Dimitrios, you may think you won that argument, but we will see at our pizza lunch tomorrow...

For the record, I did a lot of hard physical work yesterday, lifting many furnitures... by myself... I am really strong! :)

#18 - Tessan

won with that argument...

#19 - Christian

When women respond with silence its never a good sign. It generally means that they have not accepted your logic and you are going to pay for it.

#20 - Dimitrios Stergiou

@Christian: Probably you are right. I will start expecting the "voodoo" any time now...

But i know that Tessas won't be that mean to me, and worst case scenario, she will just kick my ass during the football games ;)