1. Heterosexually-partnered women continue, as their foremothers did, to take care of men and boys by doing far more than their fair share of the housework, childcare, cooking and other household duties (buying gifts, preparing for holidays, sending thank you notes, organizing family get-togethers).
2. Heterosexual women sexually service men and boys. They have sex they don’t want to have and they have babies they don’t want to have.
3. Huge numbers of women still spend hours and days and years of their lives on their appearance with the goal of taking care of men’s objectification-of-women agendas. They diet, develop eating disorders, have cosmetic surgeries, tan, pluck, shave, wax. They wear makeup, uncomfortable clothing, uncomfortable shoes. Their taking care of men in these ways also takes care of the men who run the beauty and fashion industry.
4. Women take care of the men in their lives by keeping men’s secrets. They don’t disclose or challenge male use of pornography, attendance at strip clubs, participation in the prostitution of women, sexual harrassment, objectification of women. Sometimes they do not disclose or challenge sexual molestation, incest, and inappropriate sexual behaviors.
5. Women take care of the men in their lives by cleaning up the messes men make– all kinds of messes: physical messes left in the house and yard; emotional messes which result from neglectful or abusive parenting or abandonment of children; social messes which result from ignored or neglected invitations, birthdays, holidays, failures of communication; financial messes created by irresponsible buying or failure to keep records.
6. Women take care of men by cleaning up the messes men make in their friends’ or other women’s lives: by sheltering battered women, comforting and counseling raped women, taking responsibility for putting the broken lives of women back together again.
7. Women take care of men by making the lives of men easier, even when it causes them grief.
8. Heterosexually-partnered women take care of men by making excuses for or making up for their failure to care for their children, grandchildren, and other relatives.
9. Women take care of men by laughing at their sexist, racist, classist, homophobic jokes or statements or just ignoring them. They take care of men when they make excuses for these words and statements, when they tell children or others their men didn’t really mean it, they are really nice guys, they don’t know any better, it’s not a big deal, they “really love them,” or when they justify the unjustifiable in other ways.
10. Women take care of men by flattering them, flirting with them, and putting up with them when they are being obnoxious.
11. Women take care of men by allowing them to win in competitions.
12. Women take care of men by grinning and bearing it when they, or other women, are insulted or mistreated.
13. Women take care of men by deferring to them, moving out of the way on the sidewalks and in the grocery aisles, and by allowing men to take up too much space in the room.
14. Women take care of men by supporting male participation in war, business, church, and social organizations which maintain the patriarchal status quo.
15. Women take care of men when they support or patronize establishments which actively oppress and subordinate women: Hooters, strip clubs, publishers of pornography, or organizations which advertise in or support the above.
16. Women take care of men when they pay for men’s mistakes.
17. Women take care of men when they bail men out.
18. Women take care of men when they suffer sexual harrassment in silence.
19. Women take care of men when they pretend what hurts and offends does not hurt and offend, and when they make peace the number one priority at their own or others’ expense.
20. Women take care of men by tolerating men’s presence where men are not invited or wanted.
21. Women take care of men by shielding them from their own anger and sadness over injustice in the world.
22. Women take care of men when they put the men in their lives first.
It’s right to support men, boys, all people when they are being treated unfairly, when they are suffering unjustly. It’s also right to reach out to battered, abused and raped women, even though it is cleaning up huge, horrifying messes men have made; these women’s needs have to be a priority. If we don’t support them, they will have no support. It is also completely understandable that women would take care of men at other times, when it isn’t right, when they are not suffering unjustly or being treated unfairly. Our stake in the system is our complicity with the system. But so long as we continue to take care of men at our own expense or at the expense of others, so long as we protect men and cover up the messes they have made, the world won’t change, won’t be a better place for women.