Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The New Gender Rules

So my interest was peaked when I heard Charlie Gibson tonight on ABC news say, "Coming up, a report on a new generation redefining the rules of gender." This I gotta see. And I have to say, something hopeful perked up in me. It's going to be good news, I just know it!

And it was. The report stated how both men and women are more equally sharing domestic roles these days and how the playing fields between work and home are being leveled. More dads report concern about how to accurately balance work and family these days, and more moms report the importance of a sense of professional accomplishment. We're meeting the middle more today than ever before, Charlie said. And then the reporter asked a little red headed boy on a swing set, "Who cooks dinner for you at your house?" He said, "Daddy & Mommy." "And who washes the dishes after dinner?" "Mommy & Daddy." His parents are sharing in the parenting and the day to day running of the household. This makes me happy.

I was raised in a very traditional household. Dad worked, mom did not. Mom cooked all the meals and mom did all the dishes. Mom did most of the laundry and almost all of the cleaning. It wasn't because dad made her do any of it, that's just the way it worked; those were the roles that were defined. I also remember having guy friends whose mothers never made them lift a finger for anything. If they wanted another glass of tea, all they had to do was holler and mom would come running. They were very much raised to believe that domesticity was woman's work. But I think as a society, we've progressed. At least I hope we have. I know we have at my house. :)

It's true I do the majority of the cooking, but I do it because I like to. Poncho willingly takes over on days when I'm tired and he's also the breakfast chef at our house. Any time we have breakfast, he cooks. We share the responsibility of the dishes and the laundry. Most of the time, each of us washes our own or just throws whatever's dirty in the wash. We don't have children together yet, but I can tell from the way the house is run when his kiddos come for a visit, he'll also be a very active part in all things domestic when we do have kids. When R & C are here, Poncho makes sure everyone's bathed, brushed their teeth, and that even if their rooms do resemble apocalyptic disaster areas, they don't stay that way for long. He's on top of it all the time.

So it makes me happy that we can be one of those couples that share in the responsibilities at home. I think that's part of being a complete and happy couple. No longer is a woman encouraged or expected to stay at home and do her wifely and motherly duties. Although these duties are hugely important, there are also other needs in women's lives that need to be fulfilled. Those two things do not a whole woman make. We have passions, we have dreams, we need to succeed and have a sense of accomplishment with something to show for it. It contributes to our self-worth and helps us grow as people. If we stop investing in ourselves, (however selfish that may seem to a mother) we will be less effective with those around us-- our husbands, our significant others, our families, our children. So it made me really happy to see that report on the news tonight that highlighted how not only are our boys learning to be experts at nurturing in the home, but our girls are learning that a sense of shared responsibility in the home and personal accomplishment outside of it should be the norm, not a selfish luxury.