Tonight mum was too tired to cook dinner, so we ordered chicken from Red Rooster. I specifically asked for the chicken to be cut into eights when I ordered it, but, typical of this store, they gave us an uncut chicken. We were too tired to bother taking it back and were happy to cut it up ourselves. Except for dad, who complained that someone ought to take it back – just not him, he was watching his TV show.
Now, you’d think that in such situations, the person who wants the change when no-one else cares goes and does it themselves. Not my father. He carried on for ten minutes like we were personally responsible for the chickens being uncut. We all ignored him until he went off to sulk and eat his dinner; no-one was going out for something they didn’t care much about.
But it got me thinking about why exactly he expected that any of us would go out again for a cut chicken that only he cared about. And the only conclusion I could come to was because he was the head of the house. Which is kind of ironic, because he’s not even the breadwinner – he stays at home and does odd jobs for friends and neighbours while mum works fulltime. It made me think that patriarchal values are so deeply entrenched that it doesn’t matter who makes the money, the man is in charge.
To be fair, my father’s Polish, and Poland circa 1950-70, when he grew up, was hardly a bastion of liberal feminist values. And he grew up in a family where while the children lived under the parents roof, they handed over a fair portion of their earnings to their father and did their father’s bidding (my father, to this day, does practically whatever chores his father asks of him). But how much of a sense of entitlement does he have as a man that he doesn’t stop to think, 1) I didn’t pay for the food and 2) since no-one else cares I should do it myself. If I were at a friend’s house and they bought takeaway and I complained my order wasn’t right and would they turn around and get it fixed, I would be called rude and ungrateful, and with good reason. But when the man of the house does it”¦
How much has the media perpetuated this sense of entitlement? When I think of how many movies and TV shows where the woman was a doting, subservient wife and the man got what he wanted ‘coz he was the breadwinner and even when he wasn’t, he was still in charge, I shudder. No bloody wonder my father expected someone to go back out and get his chicken cut for him.