Friday, April 11, 2014

Gender Roles And Why They Will Always Exist

Jennifer Garner, SUPERMOMWhen the baby is asleep and I find myself listless and not willing to do anything truly productive, as I often do, I skim through the news and go wherever it happens to take me - which is sometimes into celebrity tabloid-esque articles on shitty places like HuffPost.

So, in my avoidance to read news that actually matters or means something, I stumbled across this little gem of a blurb talking about how Jennifer Garner describes her average day as a mom. She says:

"We are divided down a very mom-dad [line.] If it has to do with making food, or [doing] homework or anything that has to do with actually functioning -- sorry it's true -- that's a mom thing. And then coming in just as you're getting them to bed and picking them up by their heels and swinging them around, that's a dad thing. Anything fun, that is Ben."

I'm not going to be like all the overzealous feminists out there and say that the work of managing and caring for a family should be split exactly down the middle, or that the man should be saddled with even more than the woman of the partnership because "you are womyn" or something.

What I'm saying is, yes, gender roles are a thing. They've always been and forever will be a thing. There are instinctual things ingrained in our ancestral DNA that we will never escape, no matter how many events you picket or feminist blogs you write. That doesn't mean we have to revolt against them doing exactly the opposite of what is typically expected of your gender, or that you should just fall into them complacently and without question.

There is a middle ground. It's called being a good person and it doesn't matter what your gender is because the same rules apply to each. Each person in the relationship, marriage, partnership, whatever.. each person should do the best they can, and not limit or confine themselves by what is typically done. You should embrace the things you're good at, whether they fall into your gender role or not, and share the less pleasant things when you can to show your partner that they're not alone and that they don't have a fucking job description to which they must adhere.

Often moms are strapped with the brunt of the work simply because they are better versed in how to do it, like changing a diaper or making Mom's own special version grilled cheese just the way her kids like it. And that's completely fine. If you like doing all the work, then go ahead. Be supermom. Your partner, though, should give you a break now and then because that's okay too. "Anything fun" does not have to be the only thing you do as a dad, even if mom does it better, because sometimes mom needs a break and you are both the parents.

I went on a mommy blog reading spree when I was pregnant. It made me really sad to see so many comments from married women whose husbands expected never to touch a dirty diaper or watch the kids for awhile in the evenings after work or while mom was sick (many of them even expecting a second, third or fourth child still complained they were made to do all the parenting, cooking, and cleaning). They would complain of never having time to themselves and of harboring resentment towards their husbands, then submissively ascribe it all to "Well, that's just my job as the mom" or something along those lines. Some of them you could almost feel hate seething from their words yet they felt helpless when it came to changing their situations, because they want to "stay together for the kids" (such bullshit) or they feel for some reason that they could not do this alone when in fact, they already are. Judging from how often I've seen comments like these, there are a hell of a lot of men out there who have it way too fucking easy.

Somehow I managed to luck out with my son's father, who almost single-handedly cared for our boy his first week home after being born while I recovered from not only a rough labor, but a pretty tough pregnancy in general. I had expected to feel divine and ethereal whilst carrying new life in my womb - and instead spent 9 months almost bedridden most of the time thanks to a combination of going off arthritis pain medicine, 3 months of debilitating morning sickness wherein I thought I might die, countless sleepless nights, agonizing hip pain thanks to baby using my formerly broken pelvis as his armchair causing further aggravation to the bone problems I already suffer with, and constant headaches.

While we aren't married yet (which I can only assume hasn't happened because of limited resources to actually afford getting married), he helps me with our son every night when he comes home, and most of the weekend. He prefers that I cook, which I'm totally okay with (I prefer that I cook, too), but if it's a day where I'm not feeling so hot he will pick up a pan and start cooking without complaint. No matter what happens, I know he'll always be a great dad because he always wants to get in on everything, at least to some extent, and men like him are apparently a dying breed.

The way we work just seems so natural to me... I guess some women see it as more natural to be doing all the work, overstressed and unhappy. I find it hard to believe that, though. Still, I believe it. To each their own, we all have our own different ways of doing things. I like being able to turn my Sally Homemaker persona on and off as I see fit. I don't think I'm alone in feeling that way.

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