Posts Tagged 'gender roles'

Women Who Know Their Place

I don’t know who originally wrote this piece, but it was forwarded to me today by my friend Cindy.  It may not be my writing, but I wholeheartedly agree:

Barbara Walters, of 20/20, did a story on gender roles in Kabul, Afghanistan, several years before the Afghan conflict.  She noted that women customarily walked five paces behind their husbands.

She recently returned to Kabul and observed that women still walk behind
their husbands. Despite the overthrow of the oppressive Taliban regime, the women now seem to, and are happy to, maintain the old custom.

Ms. Walters approached one of the Afghani women and asked, ‘Why do you now seem happy with an old custom that you once tried so desperately to change?’

The woman looked Ms. Walters straight in the eyes, and without hesitation said,

‘Land Mines.’

Moral of the story is (no matter what language you speak or where you go ):

BEHIND EVERY MAN, THERE’S A SMART WOMAN

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The Last Frontier in Discrimination

I wasn’t taught to feel this way.  The concept of sexism wasn’t even really an issue in my household back in the 1960’s and ’70’s when I grew up.  Mom worked outside the home part-time.  Dad could cook.  There generally wasn’t a lot of stress over household chores because my beautiful saintly little Italian grandma came over every day while mom worked and gladly did most of the day-to-day chores and got dinner started.  She spoiled us with popsicles and nickles for penny candy.

The sense of unfairness started to build about the time that my younger brother got out of weekend dish duties once he was old enough to cut our small lawn with the push mower.  Dad said that was only fair.  But it wasn’t.  I would gladly have pushed that lawn mower out in the warm sunshine instead of spending all day Saturday cleaning up dishes after the never-done-eating brother and dad.  (Mom happily worked at the downtown department store on Saturdays).  I hate housework today for the same reason I hated it then.  It’s tedious, thankless, and endless.  At least if I had to cut the grass, it would be noticeable and it wouldn’t need done again for a few days.  I remember being so riled up about the unfairness of it all that one day I just grabbed the kitchen faucet and yanked it from side to side in anger.  My dad thought it was quite amusing.

As I got older, the women’s movement for equal rights affected me deeply.  I subscribed to Ms. magazine.  I fumed over the way women were marginalized and treated unfairly.  I know for a fact that I’m every bit as good and smart and important as anyone else in this world.  My gender certainly doesn’t make me less so.  Yet, women are still treated differently.  We’re very often paid less than men for the same work, passed over for promotions we deserve, and still end up doing most of the crappy thankless housework.  Just because we’re female!sexistsuperman

In many circles, women are brainwashed to believe that their gender makes them subservient and relegated to a preordained role in life, whether or not that’s how they personally want to live their life.  They are taught to hide their talents and defer their dreams and submit to their man, whether he is right or clearly wrong.  Then, lest their true sense of fairness and justice allows them to question this, they are quoted excerpts written eons ago in various religious texts by men who lived when only the strong (or subservient) survived.

These books often talk about how all men are created equal, and to be kind to your brother.  They mention how to treat your slaves and your women.  Today, in the civilized world, we abhor slavery.  We don’t treat our slaves with kindness because we understand that slavery is wrong.  And we don’t have them.  But women are still supposed to submit to their husbands, just like they were instructed to thousands of years ago.

Thankfully, in most civilized cultures, we recognize that discrimination is evil and insidious.  A person’s worth is not determined by the color of his or her skin or the religion they grew up with.  How crazy is it that it’s still acceptable to treat our very own mothers, sisters, daughters and wives as something slightly less important than the men in our world?  How can anything rationalize this discrimination?

Wiring

As I unloaded the dishwasher for what seemed to be the hundredth time this week, I was cursing J’s college landlords under my breath.  He was supposed to be moved into his cozy little college apartment last week, the one they assured us would be completely constructed and ready to move in before the first week of school.  Instead, the poor kid has had to commute the 30 some miles every day, while I have had the pleasure of cleaning up the aftermath of his non-stop cooking and eating, and running the dishwasher every single day so we have glasses for him to mix up his various protein drinks and muscle-building concoctions.

According to some old-school gents on Dr. Phil yesterday, they just aren’t wired to do housework (implying that we women are!).  Their fragile little egos were damaged because instead of being out in the big wide world earning a paycheck, the recession has relegated them to the world of dirty dishes and laundry, while their wife brings home the bacon.  I’m not saying that losing one’s job wouldn’t be a blow to the ego, but these guys were mostly upset that now their wives were earning more money than they were (gasp!), and worse yet, they had to take care of the housework while she was out working!  One of them insisted that no way would he do that, and I wasn’t sure if he meant his wife would not work outside the home, meaning they would all go down in a sinking ship with no income at all, or if he expected her to not only go to work but then to take care of all the “menial” household duties that were so beneath his macho existence.

I did feel sorry for one newly retired man, however.  His wife seemed a bit anal and hostile over the idea that he was home while she was still working and going to school.  While I agree that if one spouse is working full-time and the other one is not, the bulk of the household duties should fall upon the one who is home most often to do them.  She nagged him about not doing more than he was doing, and criticized the way he cleaned house.  She bitched about the dust bunnies on the floor and bugged him about vacuuming the couch.  If I was married to her, I’d be in a heap of trouble!  In my world, as long as there is a decent meal ready sometime in the evening, clean clothes to wear and a pressed shirt for work, we’re doing okay.  When both of us are working full-time, we split up the household chores.  I launder and iron, hubby cooks and shops.  The household chores need to be done, and it’s all equally beneath both of us.  However, we suck it up and do it.

I find it hard to believe that in this day and age, there are still men out there that have never changed their child’s diaper or that expect their wife to do all the housework with no help from them because it’s “women’s work”.  I’m no more wired to clean a toilet than anybody else, and  it’s pretty obvious that these guys that think they’re too “manly” to scrub a floor are just too lazy and looking for an excuse.

Oh Those Gender Roles

Big Daddy and I regard our marriage as a partnership–an equal partnership.  Once in a while, but only because of my skeptical nature, I wonder if he really truly believes this as much as I do.  He was raised in a much different environment, where head of household status was conferred upon the male adult solely because he was the male adult. Sometimes I get worried that kind of thinking is still lodged somewhere in his subconscious mind.  In my household, there was no real boss.  It wasn’t exactly a head of household partnership either.  Sometimes I felt like I was the only adult in that house, even when I was a kid.  Neither one of us wanted our kids to be raised like we were.

We try to divvy up duties based on talents and interests.  We both cook; we both sew on buttons.  I usually cook dinner because I work part-time while he works full-time.  It’s only fair.  He does the yard work because he loves landscaping.  I take care of the finances because I’m good with money and I’m an accountant.  A few things end up looking quite gender based, although it could be just the way our personalities shaped things.  I generally took care of all the school stuff and scheduled meetings when the kids were little.  That seems more like a mom thing to do although it could just be that I am more detail oriented.  Big Daddy is the builder and fixer of the house.  As much as I hated hearing myself say it, when the kids brought me something broken, I’d tell them to see if daddy could fix it.  But he learned how to do this stuff when he was young.

Today, our stupid Comcast remote control would not change the channels.  It would not do anything.  I called Big Daddy at work about the “big emergency” because I had just finished all my work and I wanted to watch Dr. Phil. And the TV was stuck on Channel 200 something.  I ended up having to go to the cable box and change the channel manually.  Five hours later, I’m still waiting for Big Daddy to come home and fix the damn thing.  I mean, having to actually get up to change the channel.  How primitive is that?  Sometimes it seems the dashing hero must still rush in to save the damsel in distress!


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