What does it mean? What types of associations does it have? Is it gender specific? And what’s so special about the word itself?
Well, according to a quick Bing search, it’s “a person who earns money to support a family.”
Please note, this does not denote a specific sex. Nor does it indicate gender. These are ideas produced by our individual traditions and beliefs.
For instance, bread is heavily embedded in our religion (mine at least). In fact, in the King James version of the bible, the word is mentioned 361 times. And one of the most important prayers for Catholics implores God to “give us this day our daily bread.”
This simple statement indicates how common it is to express our need for food by calling it “bread.” Bread becomes a way to survive. It becomes a need.
Nevertheless, beyond this physical necessity, we can find the word itself to diminish one of the individuals at home. Surely, if one is the “Winner of Bread,” the role the other individual plays at home is not as important. Realistically speaking you can’t have two winners, there’s always discrepancies. After all, there’s no real way to measure the effort placed by an individual over another. The complexity of living situations is too great.
Today, I stumbled upon a random conversation where the husband felt insulted because the wife received information on her name. He claimed he was the breadwinner and his wife had no role. He should be the one who receives the bills. Not her. God forbid, she helps organize the finances for his money. (I’m sure with his mindset, there was no sharing of the money he provided).
This small encounter helped me realize how the meaning of being the “breadwinner” differs across individuals. I never used that word in the first place. I never really thought too much of it. I knew of the meaning, but it never occurred to me to use it as a way to diminish someone. And it really shouldn’t be. The role the individual who stays at home is the one that allows the breadwinner to be that person. It’s a sort of permission if you will to have that title. The person you are diminishing has the ability to be a breadwinner as well. Perhaps not equal, perhaps not greater, but if anything at all… It will take away your pride as being the only one who puts food on the table. Being the person who stays at home is a choice, it shouldn’t be a sign of your superiority.
[Food for thought]