Monday, July 21, 2008

Those pesky gender roles

Those of you who know me know that I'm a staunch feminist. In fact, I even teach a women's studies class from time to time. Perhaps that's why I get such a kick from doing all this home improvement stuff. Not only do I enjoy it for the extrinsic satisfaction of seeing something go from ugly to nice, but I think I also get some level of satisfaction from knowing that I, a woman, did it and I did it well. It's a pretty groovy feeling.

But, not all in the Bangor Foursquare feel the same way about this stuff (although I'm not sure which way our cat, Mancha, falls on this issue). Thom and I had several chats about this stuff this past weekend. Unlike me, Thom doesn't get a great deal of satisfaction from being sore and bruised, and from getting dirty and sweaty (go figure). However, I know he really struggles with being a man who is not interested in doing home improvement, especially when I am doing the work on my own. I keep telling him that I'll ask him if I need help. Of course I enjoy doing this stuff more when we do it together but I also know it's not his bag and I'm totally okay with that. Too bad the rest of the world isn't as okay with it.

In fact, when I was teaching the women's studies class last month for summer session, we talked about gender roles in class many times. Several of the students protested, saying that they didn't think gender roles really existed as much as they used to. So it was funny to tell them about being outside painting my garage when my neighbor walked by and said to me, "You're always working on the house. You should have been a man." Or the neighbor on the other side, when seeing me working outside, will say to me, "Where's your husband? Why isn't he doing this?"

Anyway, my point is this: I think we need to get away from labeling people based upon their genitalia. If Thom doesn't enjoy re-wiring the kitchen, that should be totally fine, just as it should be totally fine that I do enjoy it, despite the fact that I have ovaries. There should be no guilt, no obligation, and no prescribed way for feeling anything about what was traditionally "a man's job" or "a woman's job." Phooey on that. Why can't we just have "people's jobs," huh?

And that's all I have to say about that.


Sadie said...

You should be on the show Tool Belt Diva (perhaps as a guest host)

Susie said...

Right on! You betcha I'm a diva.

Why S? said...

I read this when it first posted and I've obsessed about it ever since. See - I'm also a feminist, but I really don't like physical labor. And I feel guilty about it. But honestly, I'm not good with my hands. I'm the one always trying to force a square peg into a round hole. For the public good, I shouldn't be allowed near power tools. I can't figure out how anything works. Not one thing.

'Cause I take after my Dad. My mom is a pro at landscaping and housepainting and anything that involves hard work. My Dad likes to stay well-informed by reading the paper. Me too. (not that hard work and reading are mutually exclusive.)

I am so in awe of women like you who can do so much on your own. I just can't be one of you.

Thanks for letting me ramble. Keep up the good work.

Susie said...

why s? - that is the beauty of feminism! it lets us know that it's okay for women (or men, for that matter) to do whatever they want and be whoever they want - you don't dig the home improvement thing, that's cool! my husband hates it - that's cool! hooray!