Dec 18, 2010

a post of vicious stereotypes

We've all heard it: a woman's home is her domain. Her heart is in her castle. I don't know, there is a well known catch phrase in there somewhere.

I was thinking about this the other day: how in this very modern world where half the women I know earn more than their partners, those who even HAVE partners, there still tends to be some very common defaults when it comes to homemaking. These women, who work full time, and are often the gatekeepers to the kitchen and the gatekeeper to homelife. Everything from cooking to cleaning to managing the families schedule somehow defaults to the lady of the house, with duties such as fixing a faucet, garbage, heavyduty yard maintenance falling to her partner.

This is, ofcourse, not a hard and fast rule. But I have heard more than woman note this year that she arranges the kitchen, or the kitchen is "hers.

And the funny thing is most women I know are not roped into this role. They are not cajoled or bullied or coerced into also doing the housekeeping. They are, infact, rather insistent in it. They assume control and guard it like a right more than a duty.

I don't think this is nature. I don't actually believe this is some genetic pre-disposition born from protective homemaker instincts. Not entirely anyway. I have a feel this is more born from what we saw our mothers do, and their mothers before them. The men went off and lived their lives and the thing they had control over, the thing they managed, was home life. It was their job. It was their duty, but it was also their right. It was, in fact, where they found and kept their power. Because their husband may have had drinks with the boys or his own other personal space in his office, his car, the whole outside world he was required to interact with. But the wife had her kitchen, her garden, her children, her home. If dinner was bad, it was on her, if home life was glorious, a credit to her.

Women have control over a lot more than the home these days. They are RESPONSIBLE for a lot more. Half the women I know are in managerial or director roles. They have tell people what to do at work, they wield a paycheck big enough to tell people what to do period.

And yet they still feel threatened when they feel they are losing the lions share of say in how the home is run. They feel obligated and due the right to run the home. The dominant and domineering housewife is still a well known stereotype.
And these women, well they have a lot of time to refine that skill. A career has given their own home long before they shared that with their mate. They managed their own apartment before HE came into the picture, and they know what is to be done. And so I see my female friends suddenly dominant in the home on a whole new controlling level that often shortchanges the fundamental necessity of compromise. So comfortable are they with the role of managing the home that they no longer think of the necessary respect they must consider when rearranging a room or buying and disposing or possessions.

And so this is my plea to all the independent, strong and incredibly awesome women out there who have not yet figured it out (and believe me there are more than a few): if you are going to share the bills, if you are going to share independence, if you are going to have your own friends along with your shared friends and share the world, you must also share your home. And that is more than inhabiting space. That is more than divvying out chores. It is a concerted effort that involves communication and the presumption that as much as you know how to run your own home, he knows how to run his. It involves developing a shared vision, where both people have veto rights. You no longer lose all power if you lose control of your home.

And you gain time, and peace of mind, in giving up a certain amount of control.

That last statement, by the way, is applicable in many situations. Think about it.


Anonymous said...

After you "bitch" post I was a bit surprised you can still be reasonable. Not that the other post was entirely wrong, just that it spoke absolutely, as if every word uttered in anger by woman was morally justified.
I am continuously fascinated with our generations struggle to define our gender roles. So many men now take care of the kids and households (not just the leaves!), while the woman earn the bacon. It's not easy for anyone, though I would argue that balance is being restored to what was previously way out of whack. It will be interesting to see the gross differences in kids mostly raised by men rather than women... Nice post Daff.

daff0dil said...

wow, talk about not understanding my last post. I'll take a certain bit of heat in that I did not bother to justify and clarify and introduce the context of my "bitch" post. But on the other hand, my very post was about different scopes of reasonability. There is very clearly an environment of slowly changing roles in our society. However, I think there are some very deep embedded expectations on both ends that serve to bind. I am reasonable. But sometims I am also righteously pissed off. Both are required for clarity.

Snowcap said...

Sometimes taking things personally can cause people to miss the point entirely, especially if the point they think they're seeing triggers a level of defensiveness.