Tuesday, May 02, 2006

It started out funny, I promise.

Once upon a time in this and many other countries, there were things called "gender roles," and boys and girls grew up believing that they were supposed to act a certain way and try to acheive goals that were appropriate for their gender.

Doesn't that thought strike you as a little bit quaint? Can you, as a product of your upbringing, cast your mind back to a time when you thought there were things boys could do that girls couldn't, or that only girls should do that boys shouldn't?
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I started to think about this today after seeing this picture:


My first thought was "yes, only in Germany, the land from whence half my genetic material comes, is such a thing celebrated and revered! Way to go, you nutty German peoples!"

Than I thought - "huh, there are only GUYS in these pictures; this is a bastion of man-hood for sure."

And then I thought - "hmmm, what gender-specific items are left in our culture, really? Is there something non-physical that only men can do or only women can do in our society's apparent embracing of burgeoning equality?" (because this is how I think, really, and I'm taking you along for the ride) In so many ways we're seeing women making huge strides in the workplace (even if we're still not getting paid a much for the same job as men), and we're seeing men electing to remain at home with their children while their spouses go make the paycheck, we're experiencing labor sharing in the home chores and influence sharing in the household finances, and we're not shocked any longer at the thought of a woman soldier or firefighter or bail bondsman or a male nurse or decorator or pastry chef (though maybe that last one is kind of a weak argument because there probably have ALWAYS been men in the kitchen).

Wherupon, naturally, I started to make a list of things only men can do that women can't:

1) Pee standing up.

No, wait, we can do that now, thanks to this little wonder.

2) Fart in public.

Well, actually, I do that, so nevermind.

3) Grow a beard.

Unless you happen to have hirsutism. In which case, enter that German competition, sistah, and do us all proud.

4) Make sperm.

Gotcha! And until parthenogenesis becomes a reality for humans, women will always need a male to reproduce.

OK, turning the tables, then, here's a quick list of things only women can do that men can't do:
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1) wear cute pleated skirts

Oops

2) Cry at movies in public

Hmm, I've seen my husband do this, so forget that one. Y'all, if you're NOT welling up at some point in a Disney flick, you've got a heart made of stone!

3) Uh, umm, dag, this is hard. OK, I'll go for the big guns - get pregnant.

Until, of course, we figure out how to get implantation of an embryo on the peritoneum of a man, and even then we'll be needed for our ova. Still, I think parthenogenesis is more likely.

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You know what? I'm having a hard time separating out who does what and who ought to be what and who needs to perform what role here.

And you know what else? I think that's really really cool.

The other side of the "cool" coin; however, is a harsh one.....and this is why: I got to thinking about cultures that forbid women to go to school or drive or show her face in public or retain her clitoris past the age of 7 or that force her into marriage or cast her out from society because she fell in love with someone NOT approved by the family patriarch or approve of cloistered harems or treat them as property to be bought and sold and abused and shamed just because they are women.

Think about it - If men can wear cute little pleated skirts and call them kilts, then women should have the right to do all those things I mentioned without fearing for her life or the lives of her children. If we here have discovered that becoming ever closer to the equality of the sexes is workable and perhaps even beneficial to our society (though there may be some who argue it's not, I would hope they're in the minority), then why do therese horribly outdated and restrictive views of gender roles still exist? What's the point?

Shoot, I'm sure that to many of y'all these are merely the impotent ramblings of a former hippie girl who wishes she could just buy everyone a Coke and teach the world to sing (in perfect harmony, natch), but I really wonder about this stuff and wonder too when I'm going to get up off my satisfied ass to do something about it.

Because sometimes, y'all, being satisfied doesn't seem like it's enough.

8 comments:

Wordnerd said...

Great post...you ALWAYS get me thinkin'!

Neil said...

My wife has told me that women are genetically incapable of thowing out the garbage.

tiff said...

WN - sometimes I get ME thinking too. I fear that's a dangerous thing to do too much of if I want to stay sane.

neil - how very interesting! Your wife is obviously highly evolved. I wonder if you need a double-dominant gene to adhere to that behavior?

hovatter62 said...

Well - let me tell you, my parents told me that only boys were allowed to have a model train set, and I believed them for awhile. (I think they didn't want to put out the big bucks a cool set would've cost.)

And Neil, I agree with your wife - especially here in Podunk, USA. We don't have garbage pick-up, so taking out the trash involves putting it in your vehicle and driving it to the local waste recycling center. Hmmm - count your blessings, city-dwellers!

Thanks, Tiff - for the thought-provoking posts!

tiff said...

Hov 62- I lived for 15 years in a place where we had to do the same. I get it!

We're about to move to a place very much like that.

I'm hoping they have a "put and take" like the one in New England did. Many treasures can be found there, or so I've heard.

Also -you're welcome for the thought provocation. :>

mr. schprock said...

I've got it!

Only men find The Three Stooges funny.

Great post, Tiff!

rennratt said...

...Sorry, I'm still distracted by the "Whizzy for women"...

Peeing into a 'paper trough' (per the ad) simply has me on pause.

tiff said...

Mr S - you know, I think you might be right!

Renn - I know - the mental images alone are enough to keep one amused for quite a while. What wrong with the ol' squat? :>