Taking out the garbage: men’s work?

There was a time when I didn’t live with a man. And somehow, I managed to do all the housework necessary to keep functioning. In fact, growing up, my parents never enforced gender typical roles – my dad was, and still is, the primary cook of the household.

But here I am, in my thirties, finally out of share housing and living with my significant other. And apparently, becoming more of a princess every day.

At what point did I suddenly decide that there are some chores that are “men’s work”? These include, but are certainly not limited to:

  1. Taking out the garbage (after I nag helpfully remind him to)
  2. Changing light bulbs
  3. Mounting objects on walls
  4. Taking meter readings
  5. Retrieving items from places I need a chair to reach (even when he also requires a chair to reach them)

Despite being perfectly capable of completing all of these tasks on my own, and considering us equals, I have fallen prey to societal stereotypes in my domestic life.

What’s more, I’ve taken on stereotypical female domestic chores with gusto which came as even more of a surprise to the boyfriend who hadn’t actually seen me cook with any real enthusiasm in all the years we’d been together previously. I’m now the chief officer of:

  1. Cooking
  2. Cleaning the bathroom
  3. Washing and hanging clothes
  4. Managing the household social calendar
  5. Nagging Patiently reminding how best to perform domestic tasks (obviously you wash the non-greasy dishes first!)

Why have I fallen so easily into this more traditional role when women’s household and gender roles have changed with such speed across the last few decades?

We are more empowered, given just as much choice as men, are highly educated, with higher incomes and higher employment rates. Our spending powers are up 50% vs 20 years ago, and 21% of us earn more than our partners, giving us financial security and freedom. In the US we’re opening new businesses at double the rate of men, and it has been predicted that by 2025 in the UK, we will own 60% of the nation’s wealth.

But while I’m certainly independent, well-traveled, earn a decent wage, and have a solid career and education, there remains one fact above all else: I care about my family. And the behaviours that I have been taught to value and demonstrate, that show my family how much I love them, still revolve around acts in the household of care-giving. Putting food on the table, taking joy in my cooking, and getting an appreciative response, is worth twice what a “well done” at work is.

Conversely, I like to be reminded that my family love me. Which means allowing my parents to fuss over whether I need picking up or dropping off, what favourite foods I want to have, and if I’m sleeping enough when I’m home visiting them. And when it comes to my other half, it means being the damsel in distress – I like being the princess of the house who doesn’t have to get her hands dirty taking out the garbage, or put herself in a precarious position changing the light bulb, because my big, strong man is around to take care of me *swoon*.

So does it matter that I haven’t bucked the trend and become a DIY goddess while my man slaves in the kitchen? Unlikely. What matters is that we accord each other with respect and appreciation for the things we contribute to our household, regardless of what they may be.

Do you agree? Are there any chores that you consider to be men’s or women’s?

Sources: Changing Household and Gender Roles     

Image courtesy of stock.xchng

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2 thoughts on “Taking out the garbage: men’s work?

  1. Pingback: Mr.CBB’s Weekly Blog Post Picks July 27,2012 « Canadian Budget Binder

  2. Taking the bins out is definitely what I would classify a ‘man’s job’. I used to houseshare with two boys who never did it and it drove me nuts, but I think that being the only girl in the house this was definitely their responsibility… stereotyping genders, I know. However, now that I live with 2 other girls we have a roster for this particular ‘man’s job’ yet we all equally share the cleaning and don’t have a roster per se.

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