November 9, 2003 ~ Gender Unrolled
As I mowed the lawn in the chill this afternoon (hopefully for the last time this season), while Morgan was inside the warm kitchen baking bread, I thought, You know, the two of us aren't very good at stereotypical gender roles.
When I came inside to the smell of baking bread and started several fix-it, repair jobs around the house (like re-lining the wall behind the stove, securing the storm windows, hanging framed pictures, and other similar things), and he prepared foods for dinner, that thought was further supported.
What can I say? He's very good at baking and cooking, while I generally tend to go after the more physically demanding jobs--yard work, repairs, building, and similar things.
Despite my tendency to wear skirts, I know (and many people have rubbed in the fact) that I am not very typically feminine, especially emotionally and intellectually (with an aversion to make-up, shaving, women's fashions, jewelry, gossip, and shopping thrown in for good measure). I love bugs and snakes and getting dirty. I quite enjoy roughing it. I'm extremely protective and tend to strike people as unnaturally strong-willed for a woman. I have very little concern about weight and body image in general.
Morgan, similarly, is not very typically masculine. We both see gender, rather than two separate and distinct categories, as a spectrum. Someone with physically male genitalia can be overall much closer to the feminine end of the gender spectrum and vice versa.
Thinking about it, I honestly can't bring to mind a single thing that we (the two of us) do which is dictated by gender. We split up chores and tasks pretty evenly, based on what each of us wants to do or is most talented at. We're both computer savvy (both hardware and software), we're both good at car repair, but he's good at cooking, while I'm good at fixing things. When someone got us a subscription to one of those housewifey sorts of magazines with all of the recipes, decorating ideas, and craft projects, it was Morgan who was tickled and poured over each edition. (Which was really quite cute, actually.) Morgan's the more frivolous spender, of the two of us. Money, though, we manage equally. Now, Morgan is the more aggressive and quick to anger of the two of us, while I'm extremely patient and not physically aggressive at all, but that's the only place where we really tend toward norms, and I don't think it has so much to do with gender as with personality and temperament.
I was reading an article the other day about national trends concerning gender roles, especially concerning male and female roles in committed heterosexual relationships. And I just could not understand it. How can what they described be the average--no, the majority, over seventy-five percent--when it is so far outside of my experience?
Granted, Morgan and I don't fit into many social norms to begin with. Politically, we're extreme left. We don't even have a television, which I'm sure is the major contributor to our ignorance of social roles that we're supposed to fit into, as television broadcast tends to be the trend-setter for our culture. We don't shop in mainstream stores and are as non-consumerist as possible. The college is rather more likely to unenforce gender roles, as is the co-op. When you throw in a few other choice idiosyncrasies like my veganism and our pacifism, well, I guess you wouldn't expect us to fit into many ready-made brackets.
And, really. I don't think we'd want to.