I have been on a lawn mower twice, to my memory.
The first instance was a ride on Pappaw’s lap when I was young. The second was in a race at the county fair, which I failed epicly at, seeing as I had not driven one before. In my household, no one mowed the lawn except my father. I’m not necessarily sure that it had all that much to do with his being “the man of the house” as it did that he just didn’t want us to break his lawn mower. But nonetheless, here I am a 23 year old woman who is fitting into gender stereotypes.
This morning as I drove to work, I heard a radio story about a survey conducted by Indiana University that was presented at the American Sociological Association’s most recent meeting, titled “Making Money, Doing Gender, or Being Essentialist? Partner Characteristics and Americans’ Attitudes Toward Housework“. This study is chock full of astounding statistics!
“Nearly 90% of respondents thought heterosexual men should be responsible for automobile maintenance and outdoor chores.”
The respondents paired chores to who in the family should be doing them. And here is where the shock and awe happens – regardless of the individual’s income or hobbies or interests, the respondents generally associated chores based on gender alone.
“66% of respondents believed the more feminine partner should be responsible for buying groceries. 61% felt that partner should cook, and 58% thought that partner should clean the house and do the laundry.”
Are you kidding me?!?! Our apartment would be a disaster if The Mister didn’t help me with any chores! Women have worked so hard to make a place for themselves in the workforce and yet, we cannot step outside of these gender roles to find some kind of balance and equality in our own homes.
My religion professor carried his son into the local coffee shop and one woman cooed, “Aw! Isn’t it nice to have a father-son day?!”
He was NOT happy. How dare they assume that he doesn’t spend special time with son on a regular basis! What if he was the main caregiver? Although he and his wife shared the parenting very equally (I know because I was the babysitter), he was not only hurt by those accusations, but disheartened to know that it is only standard for women to be the main caregiver for children.
“82% of respondents said the female partner should be responsible for the children’s physical needs, 72% thought she should take care of the children’s emotional needs, and 62% believed the woman should be the stay-at-home parent.”
Let me be clear – as parents, men and women have EQUAL responsible for their children. Certainly, there will be times when mom does more or dad is the only one home, but neither should be expected to take the heavier load just because of their gender! And here’s how this is being reflected in my own life:
My lifelong best friend has always been motivated and ambitious when it comes to her career. She is headstrong and fights her way to the top. She kicks butt! And she has always been very clear that children are just not going to be her first priority in life. She is most fulfilled through the work that she does.
My mother gave birth to me and my wonderful younger brother. She stayed with us for a few weeks, but then returned to working. We spent the days of our childhood with my great aunt, our babysitter. And to this day, Mom and I agree that that was the best thing for us all. My mother was much better suited at work during the day and with us at night. Just as Carol was much better suited to chase after us all day and sit me on the stop over and over again for biting. I feel absolutely no contempt for either of my parents for putting their all into their jobs. I, actually, have always been very inspired by them and proud to tell people my father and mother are the two hardest working people I know.
But then there is me, little ol’ Kirstin. I have discovered something wonderful about my calling and my identity. I want nothing more than to be a mother. I have always felt that way. Kids are the greatest blessing. And I know that having a family and caring for them will give me all of the satisfaction in the world. There is nothing wrong with that either!!!
What do chores reveal about gender roles? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
Welcome to the 21st Century (16 years late), everyone! Find your calling and be who you want to be. I’d love to hear what your calling is. Please share in the comments below!