Sunday, December 2, 2007

Gender "Rolls"

About a week ago, I realized that Jon and I are fulfilling just about every gender stereotype there is pertaining to married couples. (Never mind that this thought occurred to me moments after shouting obscenities at the Nebraska football game I was watching--a traditionally male activity.) I had just finished doing the dishes after putting another load of laundry in the dryer and was about to ask Jon to take out the trash when I froze.


"Yes, dear?" asked my husband coming into the kitchen wielding one of his many power tools.

"We are following every gender stereotype for husbands and wives!"

With a huff, I spun on my heel and took the trash out myself, feeling as though I had acted in the name of gender equality. What I had really done to myself was increase my own workload.

I'm pretty sure that Jon laughed at me a little before revving up his power drill again, but I did notice that he made a concerted effort to help fold clothes and clear the table later on that day.

We really do split most of the chores, so I'm not complaining. It's just that modern society tells us that there is no longer any such thing as 'men's work' or 'women's work.' I'm not truly a feminist, but my feathers do get ruffled when I hear that a 'woman's place is in the kitchen' or that there are certain things I can't or shouldn't do because I'm a girl (which thankfully does not happen very often).

However, the stereotypes persist. And they are stereotypes for a reason. For example, I cannot fix things, plain and simple, and frankly, I don't really want to. (Luckily Jon is pretty handy; it must be all the engineering training.) Like I tell Mom, "I can't be good at everything." But I can bake a mean batch of chocolate chip cookies and make crescent rolls from scratch. I like having a clean house and I'm really good at remembering birthdays and writing thank you notes (among other things--such as showing off my new mixer).

I know one (of the many) big pushes in education is to promote math and science courses for girls. I think it's a great idea...but honestly, I always enjoyed English and social studies the best (and PE, of course). Taking a quick inventory of my closest girlfriends and female relatives, I immediately notice that an overwhelming majority of them are teachers and nurses, two predominantly feminine professions.

And that's okay.

It's great, really, because that's where our strengths and interests lie. I guess the real question isn't why Jon and I fall under society's stereotypical roles for married couples. It's why should modern society make us feel bad for doing so.

Those are some deep concepts to chew on. In the meantime, I think I'll keep baking...

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