There’s nothing wrong with enjoying stereotypical “women things.”
It took me a minute to get to the point where I could be comfortable labeling myself with the term “feminist.” I had seen and heard so much backlash against the term that I shied away from it.
As I’ve gotten older, the world has become more real. I’ve become aware of my surroundings. I’m less tolerant of ignorance and inequity. I started owning who I was without apology, including being a strong-minded feminist who believes in women’s reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work and that a woman can and should be president.
At the same time, deep down inside me, there is still this old fashioned girl who really likes for a man to open her car door. Not because I need it. Because it’s nice.
The ability for these two concepts to exist in my mind at the same time boils down to the why of it, not the what. I find nothing wrong with either gender doing something that is stereotypically assigned to them as long as they want to do it. Conversely, if you don’t enjoy something, don’t do it. No one says you have to.
I spent the majority of my life abiding by some pretty gender-stereotypical rules and ideas. During the holidays, the women spent a significant amount of time in the kitchen and at the end of the meal, the men and boys brought the dishes to the women and girls to wash, and then they sat by the fireplace and had conversation. Compliance was imposed upon me. I was told I had to do it. I never felt like I had a choice.
My sister doesn’t like to cook. She will when she needs to but usually won’t. They buy ready-made meals or eat out a lot. It doesn’t make her a bad wife. She’s actually pretty amazing at wife-ing.
My brother-in-law, Jim, is a manly guy. He works in a physically demanding blue-collar job. He drives a big truck. He rides a Harley. He will also be ready with a glass of wine for my sister when she has a late night. He has no problem with cooking. He has on occasion made a full dinner for her after a long workday right down to baking homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Jim gets it. It doesn’t make him any less manly because he took it upon himself to do something most of us grew up seeing as the woman’s job. So why should women feel bad for enjoying homemaking either?
I have no issue with yard work. I have no choice, though. If I don’t trim the trees and bushes and pull the weeds, there isn’t a guy around the house to do it for me. That said, if there was, I would be overjoyed if I never had to do it again. I’d much prefer to do the laundry.
As a pretty vocal feminist, some people are a little stunned at how freakishly domestic I really am. Yes, of course, there is the slightly feral side of me that shirks off many stereotypical conventions. I’m a moderately foul-mouthed, tattooed, whiskey-drinking, weight lifting, occasional cigar-smoking, red dirt country listening chick that has no problem telling it like it is. I love that part of me.
But there’s also this other me. I love that me just as much as the hell-raiser. I bake coffee cakes. I knit. I really enjoy cross-stitch. Hatred of the holidays notwithstanding, I adore decorating for the holidays. “You sit, let me fix you a drink,” has flowed freely from my lips many times. You had a long day and you need a back rub? I got you.
Enjoying things that women fought against having to do doesn’t make me a bad feminist. Preferring to do housework over yard work doesn’t mean I lack strength.
The delineation occurs when there is no problem doing something that is seen as a submissive or a weaker trait of your gender if you enjoy doing it for the sake of doing it.
When it’s a choice, we get to feel joy in being who we are. I have hard lines I have drawn in being this person. Just as I need a partner that isn’t going mind me wanting to hang out and drink whiskey and have a stogie with the guys, I need someone that would give equally as I do in whatever way that has meaning for them.
Relationship and household equality has no connection to who does what. It’s a matter of no one person carrying less weight and no one doing having to do something begrudgingly. Simple.
Now, you’ll have to excuse me while I fix myself a bourbon and work on knitting this scarf for a boyfriend I don’t have because you never know when I may want to impress a guy with my amazing domestic skills.