Let’s hear it for the moms who bring home the bacon
It’s time to say goodbye to tired, old household income hierarchies.
It’s time to say goodbye to tired, old household income hierarchies
Have you ever wondered about the origin of the saying, “Bring home the bacon”?
My favourite theory is that of the Dunmow Flitch, a 900-year-old tradition still practised today.
In the 12th century, a year and a day after their wedding, a couple approached the Prior of Dunmow to bless their marriage. He was so taken by their love for one another that he awarded them a flitch (or a ‘side’) of bacon.
The tradition continues in Dunmow, Essex, with local couples competing to convince a jury of their devotion to one another. The winners get to bring home the bacon.
There’s not much occasion for it, but now and then, the fact that I bring home the bacon comes up in conversation. And every time, there’s the question: “Oh, so are you a single mom?”
I’ve been married twice, and in both relationships, I’ve been the primary earner. Which shouldn’t, for one minute, lead you to believe my salary is anything other than average.
It’s just the conclusion most people leap to when they hear I support the household. I must have higher earning power than he does.
But I’m the opposite of what you’d call a high-flying career woman, and a world or two away from being a “high earner”.
A recent study found that almost 38% of South African households are headed by women who are the sole or primary breadwinners.
You’d think that in the 21st century, which partner is the breadwinner in a relationship wouldn’t be an issue. But you’d be wrong.
Despite decades of progress, a woman who earns a higher salary than her husband is still an anomaly to many.
The follow-up to the single-mom question is invariably, “How does your husband feel about that?”
Whenever I’m asked this, I check my watch to make sure we haven’t travelled back to the 1950s.
The implication is that the poor man must feel emasculated or threatened by a woman who earns more than he does.
An archaic notion based on the belief that a man’s role is to earn enough to support his family so that his wife and children don’t have to work.
As well as being an anomaly, I seem to have married two as well, as feelings of emasculation have never been raised.
Higher earnings in my home don’t equate to dominance, power, or authority. We’re a family and the money that is earned is ours to be shared.
Which recalls a hilarious moment in my distant past:
Partner: “You intimidate me.”
Me: “I’m a LIBRARIAN! How intimidating could I be?”
I like the Dunmore Flitch origin story because the couples bring home the bacon together.
Regardless of which partner spoke more eloquently of their devotion, who spent more time preparing their argument, or who presented their case more convincingly, the focus isn’t on who won the bacon.
It’s on the fact that it’s brought home for everyone to enjoy. Who would feel threatened by that?