When I was little, I loved to play pretend games. I would ‘cook’ up a delicious grass meal with weeds, wrap up my baby dolls with towels, and pretend I was poor Cinderella tidying up the house. I told my Mum and friends I wanted to be a stay at home mother when I grew up. I clearly did not know what I was saying back then.
Fast forward to my early adult years, I wanted to prove myself as a capable woman who could take care of herself. Because of my old-fashioned nature, people were easily deceived into thinking I would make a great housewife. Surely, I must be a neat person which means I must enjoy tidying. If I can sew, that must mean I can do so many other feminine household things like cooking. She takes care of nursery-Kindergarten kids, she must make a great mother some day.
I can’t tell you what a shock it was to realise that I wasn’t that girl. It’s embarrassing to have to admit that you don’t get excited when people talk about cooking (vs. getting really excited when talking about food) because you don’t feel the same way. It’s embarrassing to expose yourself as ‘useless.’
Perfect housewife? I’m not her.
There’s a common belief that, although the wife may go out and work, she should still be able to take up the housewife duties like the women before her. Duties like: cleaning, cooking, laundry, sewing, child-rearing, etc. And the husband? He’s the main breadwinner and he should help out around the house but he’s not really expected to do what the wife should do. I don’t know why.
- If food is the way to a man’s heart, then I’ll never have the key to his heart. I simply do not enjoy cooking. Not even baking (I did once, not anymore). I’ll cook if I really have to – obviously, I need to eat to survive – but I won’t stop someone from cooking for me. 🙂 Cook together? Cook with a group? Tried both and was still bored by it all. It’s just not for me, sorry. Even if my food turned out to be delicious, I didn’t suddenly develop a love for cooking. I greatly admire women who can and enjoy cooking and baking but I’d also like to point out that there are men out there who can and enjoy these activities too. Looks like I’ll have to marry a chef.
- On the other hand, I enjoy making Glühwein (mulled wine).
- So do I just make people do the hard work? No. I usually offer to wash the dishes as that is one thing I do enjoy doing. It’s therapeutic. 🙂
- I was always terrified of the sound of vacuum cleaners. Great invention to make our lives simpler but a fright for me. I avoid being the one to vacuum when I can.
- I am no Cinderella. The cleaning part is not my forte. I also don’t want to be the one to take out the rubbish, if I don’t have to. Organising, on the other hand, is something I enjoy doing. Recycling is lots of fun!
SEWING & LAUNDRY
- I like sewing and though I’m still new to this activity, I hope to perfect this skill some day. One day, my husband will have nicely tailored clothes and my children will have homemade haute couture.
- Now you see it, now you don’t. I like getting rid of stains. Tide-to-go is my favourite ‘laundry’ accessory. Stain removers are my laundry best friends. [Naturally] bleaching white clothing is one of my hobbies. Yes, I’m strange that way. Perhaps I see it like a child does: the problems just magically vanish! Ding!
- I can’t knit or crochet but I will one day. I enjoy making things
- I used to want lots of children until I started taking care of Kindergarteners. It’s not that I’ve started disliking children but I’ve decided that I can’t raise mine in the city. I’m too afraid they’ll feel entitled to everything.
- While I may not have a servant heart like my Dad, I enjoy being and try my best to be a good hostess. Although to be quite honest, I think I’m good at being the lady of the house – and letting everyone else do the tasks for me. 😛
Did you have a good laugh? Whether you’re thinking, ‘This girl is full of surprises,’ or ‘this girl is the biggest loser whom nobody will want,’ I leave you with these questions:
Can gender roles be reversed? Must I fulfill my gender role?
PLEASE NOTE: I believe housewives / stay-at-home mothers deserve a LOT of respect. Whether they love it or not, what they do isn’t easy. After all, this is what I realised recently. Please give them a round of applause.
I hate doing the dishes! I always let my boyfriend do them.. in exchange, I do the laundry, because I actually like it (I’m a control freak about folding things to fit exactly in the drawer, etc).
When we first moved in together, I hated it so much. I was studying full time, but Nathan was working full time, and even though I had heaps of work to do, he always assumed that I would do most of the housework, because I was home more often. I think this also had something to do with the fact that his mother never asked him to do any chores at home – she even cleaned his room for him.
However, I took this as a major slight – who was he, assuming that I would do all the housewife stuff because I was a girl? I started looking after my own dishes, my own laundry and just ignoring his. All that ended up happening was that I got angry, and the house got messy!
Now, I try to be a bit more flexible about it all. I’m allowed to ignore dirty dishes in the sink, because he knows I hate them. He’s allowed to leave his socks on the floor, because I know that I could nag forever but he’ll never remember to put them in the laundry hamper! I mow the lawn, because I enjoy it (he hates it). He takes the rubbish out, because I hate it.
It’s a bit more egalitarian this way, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took a long while of figuring out what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are. And now, we can use this knowledge to plan for the future. If I ever have kids, I know that I couldn’t stay home with them all the time (I would actually go crazy) – whereas Nathan is very patient and a homebody, who could happily stay home. We’ve discussed this a lot, and if we did have kids, we’d probably try to organize something where he was the stay-at-home parent, or at least part-time.
For some men and women, this arrangement would cause massive anxiety about their gender role – i.e. a man thinking he wasn’t masculine for not ‘bringing home the bacon’, or a woman thinking she wasn’t maternal for not wanting to stay home with her kids all day. But I guess if both parties are comfortable enough to choose what works best for them, rather than living up to social expectations, it will work out better for everyone!
In conclusion (of a very overly long post), gender roles are escapable! It just takes an open mind, an open dialogue between partners and a willingness to do what works – not just what you think you should do!
Thank you very much for sharing Johanna! I’m glad (and relieved) to hear that gender roles are escapable, as you put it, and that all it takes is good communication and team work. 🙂 Whomever my future husband shall be, he will unfortunately have to be able to cook. That’s the only requirement I have!
It’s funny. I hadn’t really thought about gender roles because things were fairly different in my family. Yet while I was on facebook, I noticed so many girls my age posing in the kitchen with their delicious food and with a greatly appreciative boyfriend/husband next to her. That’s when I realised I’m not the ‘ideal’ girl men want. When I was still single, I told lots of people that my future bf/husband will have to cook, be tall enough to reach for things, and open stuck jars and such. 😛