October 5, 2010

i vacuum in heels

femme writes has become a monthly phenomenon thanks to shine and marie. this month's topic is gender roles [even though i really wanted to write something for last month's femme writes (women, religion and politics), i never figured out what i wanted to say. i had far too many opinions and far too little time to focus...]

i can't really say much about gender roles. we discussed it at one point in social psychology, but i'll be damned if i can recall any specifics. honestly, i don't believe in gender roles; i never really had to. both my parents worked almost my entire life. the old man withdrew from grad school to take care of my infant awesomeness. plus he was stay at home dading for a couple years when he "retired" the first time. mom has never not worked. growing up, chores were determined by age. we had to share the responsibility of cleaning and cooking if we wanted our allowances. mom even drew up a 20page contract at one point. i was just telling N last night how i grew to loathe potatoes. it was always my responsibility for years to wash and peel them. then i progressed to chopping, boiling and mashing. i HATED it. i stopped eating potatoes for awhile in silent protest

i also had the duty of washing the dishes and loading the dishwasher. A and S got to share the task of unloading. vacuuming, bathrooms and taking out the trash/recycling were managed on a rotating schedule. i, of course, negotiated my way out of bathroom and trash duty. only one task was ever solitary/you never get out of it: laundry. at some point, mom taught you how to wash clothes, and you were on your own going forward. even my dad has to wash his own underpants :p there were no "boy" jobs or "girl" jobs; there were only the collective "learn how to take care of yourself for when you move out of my house" tasks... not on the regular chore list were home improvements. the old man paid us, whoever agreed to do it, to help him with projects around the house. nothing terribly taxing, usually painting, cutting/staining floor boards, rewiring the living room lighting, etc., and he treated us all the same when working. because of it, i like tearing shit up and putting things together (and wandering around the power tool section of home depot)

in college, i only roomed with women (campus housing, campus policies) so every task was performed by the ladies of the house. there were a few roommate disputes senior year, which left us with some quality memories, but nothing changed expectations. those same expectations apply now that i'm living with N. common spaces and common tasks should be handled by us both. when we're not being lazy (and one of us isn't being a bad roommate), we tag team most of the apartment chores. i have the same expectation if InSlut and i move in together. i have absolutely no intention of cleaning, cooking, etc by myself for the long haul. i ain't the maid. baby jesus gave you two hands and two legs so go make mama a sammich

i do joke that InSlut domesticated me, but it's not my natural state. it won't stick forever. i've done dishes and bought groceries while at his place. i've cooked for him almost every time i've been to PA and when he visited me here. i even bought an apron (and will probably get more) because a tiny piece of me wants to be joan cleaver

the rest of me wants an after work martini and a big bowl of cookie dough for myself. i like some domestication, but i would go bonkers if it were my entire life. i'm thankful that so many women pushed their way out of the kitchen so that i can get a decent education and a fulfilling job. i can choose if and when to have children without completely abandoning my other life goals. i can choose to stay home with my future kids, baking my little heart out. or i can choose to hire a nanny because i like earning a paycheck

i don't except any man to "bring home the bacon" by himself. and i hope any man i'm with doesn't expect me to keep house by myself. i believe in equal partnerships based on mutual understanding and respect

...except when sammiches are involved

[read other october contributions here]


magnolia said...

my folks raised me to be able to cook for myself and hang my own pictures. it's a nice skill set.

in my last relationship, i did everything, both traditionally male and traditionally female jobs. the only thing my ex did was take out the trash (once it was overflowing all over the kitchen) and take care of his dog. i did everything else.

my new boyfriend and i don't live together, so i don't have a barometer there. i cook sunday dinner every week, he buys the groceries. he pays for more things than i do, but he works and i'm in school. we do have a fairly traditional relationship when it comes to holding doors and little things like that, but we are absolutely intellectual and emotional equals. he doesn't freak out when i contradict his football opinions in front of his boys; in fact, he loves the debate.

i guess my point is this: gender "roles," to me, are nowhere near as important as the overall level of respect you're accorded. i don't care who does what, as long as at the end of the day, he doesn't see me as less than him because of our gender.

Hutch said...

I'm with ya on the shared tasks and keeping the house up not solely being the woman's job! I plan on bringing in just as much as my future husband and in no way see how I could be a full time SAHM. Bleh. I will say I didn't do my own laundry until I was in college, but that was because my mom found it easier to divide up the loads between 4 people instead of having 4 people then divide up their own loads. Less water used or something. I did help with the folding though.

shine said...

My mom always worked, too. But my grandparents (both sets) were much more entrenched in traditional gender roles. Even when my grandmother worked, it was still her job to do all the cooking and cleaning.

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