Archive for gender neutrality

Gender Neutrality: Is It A Relationship Killer?

Posted in Relationships with tags , , on March 30, 2010 by Angela

I know that it may be a rare thought but I am still more a believer in gender specific traits, duties & roles. I think it makes for a clearer understanding of expectations and in maintaining an established order of things to a relationship.

I’m sure there will be some that think this is a bad thing but I liken it more to how a man stands up when going to the bathroom and how a woman sits when going to the bathroom. It’s just how we are put here and it’s all in the natural mechanics of how things are and which best suits which need.

I am well aware that there can be manipulation and adjustment by either sex to perform or execute some things but along the same vein of thought there are some things that just seem to work well and be an inbred inclination. The fit is just so much better with minimal muss & fuss so to speak.

Therefore, by no means do I consider it a bad thing to work within these parameters rather than working outside of them to prove some hapless point just for the sake of having proof’s sake.

When I was younger learning how to cook, clean & other life skills were taught not only in the home, they were taught in home economics classes in school starting in junior high and were part of core curriculum in high school years (this is evidently no longer the case). These tasks were reinforced through club & church affiliations as I grew up.

However, as I only had male siblings & primarily male cousins (that I consciously preferred to hang out with), I also became acquainted and exposed to the more “rugged, manly” things and took the opportunity to learn about them in part.

There were many Saturday mornings that I would I watch my father haul out the ladder and fix things around the house. I took note of how he climbed up on the roof to fix a shingle or clean gutters, the manner in which he stripped, primed & painted the house.

Some Saturdays he would be splayed underneath the hood or body of the car with his Craftsman tool chest & tool box nearby as he tinkered with something I could not always see but sat enraptured nonetheless.

I enjoyed tagging along on early morning trips to the hardware or automotive store and roaming the aisles looking at all the weird, shiny items. There wasn’t much in the way of entertainment but it opened me up to a wide array of things that even to this day may come to the forefront of my mind.

I may not always know the name of it but I have an idea that there’s “some thing” out there than can do “something” for me and I’m quite sure when explaining that to one of the helpful, patient salesmen that I am on the right track.

Seeing my father day in & day out going about his business, I was able to form long-lasting impressions of how men behave, the things they do for their loved ones and the motivation that leads to those two things.

It allowed me as a girl to first observe and then eventually as a woman to desire and have an expectation of a man that would compliment the woman I aspire to be. I am not afraid to say that as a woman there are certain things I need to have displayed to me and be secure in knowing.

This could also be an underlying reason I’m an “actions speak louder than words” type of person. I’m a firm believer that the things you DO bespeak your character as a person. So easy to speak the words but to be a living embodiment is quite another.

I believe that not only are there superficial tasks but there are deeper needs met and served within the relationship based on these superficial tasks. These tasks are one of the avenues for expression of love, caring, etc. that we all need or should need to be healthy functioning human beings.

Now, within a relationship, I would be less than honest to say that I’m okay with doing any of what I consider to be “manly duties”.

Those duties include but are not limited to taking out the trash & other such physical work, car maintenance, driving, household maintenance, moving furniture, and generally most lifting/carrying. Basically put its anything that will break a nail, chip my polish or run the risk of something being dropped on my foot.

However, I am a cute yet effective lil helper and I’ve got a mean sandwich & lemonade game to reward your efforts.

Truly, I don’t have a problem with cooking, although I readily admit that I don’t cook a lot of things simply because they aren’t within my diet (that would include most soul food). I can follow a recipe and with a designated taster I can do quite well.

Growing up I have memories of cooking for my father & brothers if my mother was out of town….not unlike men of his generation, my dad would have burned the pot roast. We had eaten enough of his ‘forgotten-on-the-stove’ cuisine so it was a necessity for our palates to know some basic rules.

As far as household chores, I actually don’t mind doing laundry and ironing because I find it very cathartic and a necessary duty like cleaning, it’s just a part of life and I’ve got a good routine so it doesn’t bother me or leave me feeling put upon in the least to keep things running smoothly & orderly. As kids we all had to do our own laundry on our specific day/evening of the week. 

Being from the generation where kids actually had chores and were required to get up on Saturday mornings and tend to the home front, I really don’t have a choice but to like and appreciate it to some degree.

Running a household and holding down a job, that’s not a problem. I’m not the first generation of women in my family to be able to do both of those things successfully with or without a husband. There have been many women prior to me who have been able to handle themselves with grace & without having to develop a skewed outlook or having a reassignment of roles to fit a new or perceived role.

I personally don’t feel objectified because I know that I’m not limited to these duties, it’s a conscious choice of my own. As I see a need for something else to be handled, my choices are to do it or to find someone to do it for me. It’s really that simple and its just part of being a responsible, self-sufficient or well-rounded individual when it’s called for not because it’s lacking.

There seemed to be a time when a man & a woman knew they could depend on the other to pick up the slack if the need arose. There is nothing like knowing that there is someone who can carry the ball if you have to lay it down for some reason or another…..illness, unforeseen absence, etc. It’s comforting to know that you have a mate that can perform or step up in all areas.

One of the important ways I believe you show appreciation & reciprocation for someone you love is to carry a reasonable fair share and even an unreasonable fair share to reduce some of the unnecessary burden off your mate.

 Sure, each household or relationship is different but I’m convinced there are some things that come easier to one sex as opposed to the other based on how we are wired as functioning human beings.

However, somewhere along the line there came a point when it became (more of) a battle of the sexes and things got a little more competitive. We have had to get all politically correct in how we used words. Words like mankind, chairman, spokesmen became womankind, chairwoman, spokeswoman, etc.

As if the mere re-designing as such differentiated or validated things that much more or created more equality than in its other form.
I tend to believe it polarized and neutralized things in some respects rather negatively.

I’ve noticed a lot of “empowered” women who take a great deal of pride in letting a man know how insignificant his contribution to her can be.

I’ve noticed a lot of “emasculated” men who have lost or willingly given up an edge of their manliness in deference to such aforementioned women.

In some cases, I’ve seen it eventually become the demise of the relationship because there is a constant butting of heads in trying to determine how to make it work as a team vs. two “all together” individuals intent on letting the other know what they can/can’t or should/shouldn’t do. Basically listing all the reasons they don’t need one another as opposed to why they do need one another.

I’m not fully convinced that a lasting relationship can exist with prolonged, long-term gender neutrality as a component. I really have yet to see a healthy one that’s withstood the test of time because over the course of time and soul-searching each sex realizes some things that they may feel are missing.

Coincidentally these things quite often tend to primarily be one of two things: 1) some of the initial things that they may have been drawn to in that person or 2) some of the things that they initially debunked as being outdated/unnecessary stereotypical roles, traits, etc. but have come full circle to want, appreciate or need in their mate.

So these are the questions I asked myself and others to explore my thoughts, feel free to share yours if you like.

Do you believe gender neutrality exists?

Do you feel gender neutrality can exist within a successful marriage or relationship for the long haul or might problems arise over time?

What makes a man manly or a woman womanly? Is it the roles, functions or duties they perform, does it lie in merely aesthetics or is it something else?

~Peace & Blessings~