Sunday, January 06, 2013

Gender, Generations & Gnostic Garbage

This evening I ran out to buy a tool and piece to fix my starting to fall apart installed closet system. I used the drill to install the missing bit, then put everything back before running out to pick up pizza for Jim, Andy and Andy's best bud Chad. Jim washed dishes while I was repairing and getting some pizza.

Reversed gender roles pretty obviously. But we've never really had hard and fast gender roles in our marriage. The closest we came to strict gender roles was during the years we were in Fundigelical Land, where others loved to tell both of us that we needed to stick to what men did and what women traditionally did. What a disaster for us! We'd always operated that both of us did many different things at times based upon need and opportunity. Outraged some folks at church.

I had not thought back to the whole gender divisions of labor until recently when my mother and I had kind of a verbal tiff over who takes out the trash. It started when my momma started to verklempt about some special European chocolates she'd ordered for the garbage men who work her area.

Make the mistake of telling my mother I had done something similar at Thanksgiving time instead of Christmas because I figured they probably had at least a few tips at Christmas so I wanted to do it when they weren't expecting anything. I'd gotten a big box of chocolates, a thank you card with some cash in there to split among them. I wrote a note thanking them for helping me out so much when my back was bad. The sanitation workers had hauled my can to the truck and back up to my house when I was struggling with that back procedure. They did the same thing again after viewing me hobbling on crutches with a removable cast on my leg back this fall. They've gone well above and beyond their job. They still come up to the house and haul the can and return it if I'm out of town or forgot. Good guys.

Why did they do that? I think it's because I've always treated those hard-working men decently when I've come across them. I know that they have a hard job that not everyone could do. I do tip them yearly and sometimes sent things out to them. Even Mitt Romney thinks that it's one of the hardest jobs you could do and it's rare I agree with him on much of anything.

Momma was outraged that I was taking the garbage can to the curb, started huffing and spitting that HER husband took out the trash can EVERY trash day until he died, even when he was feeling poorly from all the chemotherapy he had. My Jim should respect me like THAT!

I laughed at her words and I still laugh at them because whoever puts the trash can out at our house is just like washing the dishes or fixing the closet, it's whoever gets to it first or has a talent for that type of work. It isn't determined by if you have an outie or inny for sexual organs.

That usually works out to be me because one of the things I do on the day before they pick up the trash is actually go around and empty all the household litter baskets from each room, take them out to the can and roll the can to the curb. This is usually around 5 pm before Jim gets home and I am just starting to cook dinner. It's not a gendered thing, it's a practical thing.

For days afterward I asked most of my friends who took out the garbage can in their relationship. Anyone in my age group and below answered that it was whoever got to it first put it out. It wasn't a set male or female chore.

The only folks I know that put that whole male/female roles thing as a serious thing are either from my mother's generation or from the fundamentalist mindset. Makes me think that the entire fundamentalist world is just secretly trying to take us all back to the 50's, the 1850's. They are just generational throwbacks.

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