There’s a moment in almost every woman’s life when she realizes that the cards are systematically stacked against her because of sexism. The realization hits us at different moments, but it hits hard. For some, it’s the first time we see the unfairness of being scolded for climbing trees or getting in trouble for strict dress codes. For others, its when they get their first pay check or have a male-coworker call them something like “sweetie” or “hun.”
I clued into this reality back when I was a kid watching TV on the couch with my twin brother (aka my same aged brother who had no reason for being treated any differently than me). My mother had been in the kitchen when she called me over to clean up. It wasn’t the first time she’d asked for my help with cleaning, but it was the first time I realized I was the only one asked, and that it was total caca that my twin hadn’t been asked as well.
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Of course, I knew better than to make a fuss about being asked to clean. Mama didn’t raise no dummy who talks back. However, I did open my mouth to say something like “But what about my bother?” which was quickly met with “Boys don’t clean the kitchen.”
And thus began my understanding of the subtle yet very obvious ways he and I were treated differently growing up.
While I hightailed my ass home to make sure I met my 10 o’clock curfew…
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My twin brother was strolling into the house hours later at midnight.
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Nearly every one of my outfits went under daily scrutinization…
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But my twin bro got away with any size shorts, no problem.
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My parents wouldn’t let me have a boyfriend.
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Or, drive in cars with my friends.
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And despite all of my very ~mature~ and completely logical protests, it continues to this day.
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And we’re both adults!
Even now, when we visit home for Nochebuena, while I’m playing Cinderella in the kitchen with my sister and mother…
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My brother’s out hitting balls on the golf green with my dad.
And AFTER dinner? When I’m stuck Jenga-style organizing the fridge with leftovers of lechón and frijoles…
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The prince gets to layback and rest his precious tummy.
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Because, you know, he put it in a whole lot of work eating at the dinner table.
Ok sometimes he has to take care of the trash.
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LBR, that’s the bare minimum.
When I put up a fight about cooking and cleaning, my mom starts sweating me about whether I’ll ever convince some guy to marry me.
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Or, when I want to go out with my friends? It’s like facing a parole board.
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My brother could go for a run and literally be gone for hours. Last year, I went running and after being gone 30 minutes my dad rounded up neighborhood watch.
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Being a twin, I know that I’ve got quite a leg up over the singletons of the world. And all the perks he gets aside, my wombmate is actually pretty much the best.
I was born with a lifelong buddy and have always had someone to help me tackle life’s hurdles. It also means I’m one step closer to being an Olsen twin than anyone who doesn’t have a twin. (Which means I’m basically an Olsen twin?)
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That is to say, I’m lucky and I know it.
But when it’s all said and done, as a woman, I know there’s a whole lot of BS I’m expected to put up with, and benevolent sexism in my household is absolutely one of them.
So, ICYMI he absolutely should be the one to clean the dishes this year for Thanksgiving, Mom and Dad.