I realise that I’m a bit behind with this, but I’ve spent the week catching up on some of the great media produced for International Women’s Day.
There were lots of great articles and quotes doing the rounds on social media from some brilliant women, from all walks of life, including business women, stay at home mums, teenage girls and of course women in mining. But it happened to be one celebrity quote in particular that caught my eye.
Buzzfeed quoted Jennifer Garner in their list of ‘31 Times Celebrities Gave The Best Damn Responses To Sexist Questions’, which highlighted how different the questions directed at her and husband Ben Affleck are:
“Every single person who interviewed me, I mean every single one, asked me ‘How do you balance work and family?’ As for work-life balance, Ben said no one asked him about it that day. As a matter of fact, no one had ever asked him about it. And we do share the same family. Isn’t it time to change that conversation?”
I really related to this quote in particular because people ask me all the time; ‘how do you cope with Mr Miner away?’
I know some are inferring that I may get lonely or miss him, but I also know I am not being over-sensitive when I say that many outsiders seem to think that it would be impossible for me to cope without a man at home. It’s as if I had a partial lobotomy when we moved in together and lost the ability to carry out simple everyday tasks without his assistance or supervision.
‘But what if something happens when he’s not there?’ They ask. Like what? Cockroach infestation? Power cut? Neighbour from hell? They’ve all happened when he’s been away and although I would’ve loved him to be there to help, I coped all the same.
Of course I asked Mr Miner whether this is something he hears a lot, and surprise, surprise, nobody has ever asked him how he copes. Not once. They ask him what it’s like to go underground, how he finds the hours, how good the money is, but he has never had the question phrased as, how do you cope?
Even more importantly this resonated with me, because I think most worryingly, this question isn’t only sexist towards women. As much as it assumes that I wouldn’t be able to cope on my own, because I’m a woman, it also assumes that he would be able to cope on his own, because he’s a man.
This way of thinking perpetuates the issue of men not discussing their feelings, particularly when it comes to feelings of anxiety and depression, which can be amplified by the FIFO or DIDO lifestyle when you are working long hours, away from your loved ones.
So I am not suggesting that I want people to stop asking how I am coping, but re-phrasing the way they ask it. Please do ask how I’m feeling, whether I’m lonely and if I need a hand with anything at all (particularly if you want to come over and kill cockroaches!).
But if you see Mr Miner, please also feel free to ask him… or your mate, or your colleague, or your Dad, or your neighbour or your brother how they’re doing too, because at some point we could all do with someone to help us cope.
If you’re having trouble coping, Beyond Blue are available to help you talk it through, day or night.