I found something really interesting last night when I was
totally wasting time celebrating the fact that it was Birthday Eve and trolling through the archives of my newest, most favorite Mormon hipster mommy blogger. (Sidenote: is it ok for someone who is not Mormon to be so enamored of these blogs? I think yes. But mostly because BABIES. You cannot argue with that.)
So, I had just found this blogger via her guest post on another blog (dear lord, the wormholes the internets can lead us into) and I was struck by her funny, intelligent voice. I’m clicking on post after post, and then I come across one wherein she responds to a reader’s request for marriage advice. “Excellent!” I say to myself, and then the first piece of advice I see leaves me SO cold. What was it?
“Conform to your gender roles as much as possible.”
GAH. I had an immediate mental spasm, and was actually kind of confused…this woman is so bright, so articulate, so in touch with a worldview that matched mine so well. How could she be stumping for something that seems so antiquated and limiting?
But then I read on, and was equally floored by what she said to flesh out that statement. Things like “Dress up for him” and “Speak in a sweet voice” and “Make him dinner once in a while.” Things that I, um, do all the time. Things I never considered “conforming to a gender role” and instead thought of as being a good partner to the person I love. So strange, to reconsider the actions you take to keep your husband happy…am I being slowly transformed into a Stepford?
I mean, obviously not. That’s just dumb. I don’t even have a pearl necklace. The reason I do all those things (aside from trying to look hot as often as possible, because duh why would you not) is that, when I do, he flips out in a fit of joy. Seriously. When he came home from jujitsu last night, he saw that I had made him pesto shrimp, and he told me exactly 70 times how good it was. And oh my god thank you. And how good it was. And I love you. I love shrimp. Oh man. Making this guy food is like deworming orphans. No, that is disgusting. It is like doing something very, very wonderful, because he is so incredibly thankful. That’s why I do it, and why I try to make his life easier/better in every way…because I love him, and it makes me happy to see him so happy.
But once I started to think about it, those improvements that I try to make to our lives are all super-feminine. Holiday decorations. Baking. Wearing heels and makeup and doing my hair. Why does it bother me so much to call all of that “conforming to my gender role?”
I think the reason is largely that I made the choice to do those things after meeting M, and because of him, specifically. Had he been a super outdoorsy dude who didn’t even notice blow-dried hair, or a PB &J man who wouldn’t know a truffle if it bit him (bad truffle!), there’s no way I would put so much effort into those things. I’d be a ponytail-rockin peanut butter connoisseur, and there’s nothing inherently female about peanut butter. (….right?) I want to be half of a partnership that looks at each life hurdle together (laundry? college tuition? childcare?) and decides how to tackle them as a pair. With no preconceived notions about who does what, and no mantles that we have to shoulder alone because we were born into one gender or the other. Those hurdles will get divided up, and in a few years I could easily be walking down 2nd Street at 3pm on a Tuesday, wearing a Baby Bjorn. But if so, it’ll be because I wanted it. Because as an adult with other options, I chose it.
Probs I will make him be the stay-at-home parent, though. I mean, come on.