False Dichotomies


I saw this meme on Facebook, and it stuck in my craw.

Not EVERY female, and not EVERY family. Dad taught me how to plunge a toilet (and talked me through my first snaking of a drain); how to muck around in a “grey water” pipe (i.e. the sewage line going back out to the city sewer from the house) to track down a backup (I’ll admit, this one was because my arm was smaller than his at the time, and fit in the pipe better. You don’t know ICK until you’ve pulled your arm back out of a pipe like that covered to the shoulder in stinky black ooze and scratches on your arm from rough spots in the pipe – which meant I had to know first aid to keep them from being infected by the sewage); how to change a tire; how to change the oil (and the filters); how to check my oil and my tire pressure; and both my sister and I were taught (back in the 70s – and expected to do it) how not only to mow the lawn, but also how to rake it – she was 4 years older, so she did most of the mowing, AND the hand-done weed whacking of the ditch.

AND we had a garden we were expected to help with.

AND we were expected at times to help with some of those “men’s work” chores as well, even if it was only handing Dad tools (so yes, I even know what some of those tools look like).

And, I also learned to recognize certain sounds as being related to certain problems with my car.

AND…I took a lifeguard certification, and a CPR certification and a First Aid certification.

AND…my Dad taught me how to shoot a gun, clean a gun, fill the magazine, gun safety and some basic hunting rules.  I’ll admit I’ve let those skills get rusty, so I’ve asked my boyfriend to reteach me.

AND…..I STILL get treated like a trained monkey when I go to a mechanic or a hardware store or a hunting store looking for something specific. If you want to be pissed about supposed dichotomies, be pissed about the fact that the assumption that women don’t know shit about “man things” is the automatic default. Actually, one of the standards by which I choose mechanics and other specialists is by that. If a mechanic tries to play those games, I take my business elsewhere, somewhere that assumes I’m not an idiot just because I have tits and a vagina. I have other standards, such as experience and customer service, but that is a particular one.

I pay to get my oil changed now. Why? Because a) it’s painful to get down on the ground under the car, even with ramps; and b) it takes them 15 minutes to do something that would take me at least 2 hours to do.  But almost every single place I’ve gone to do that has respected me, especially after I asked intelligent questions about my car (such as “could you check xxxxx for me?” – usually based on a sound, and almost always there has been an issue needing fixing, and they show me it before they expect me to approve it).

Every time I’ve had a flat, I’ve worked to get it off and replace it. I’ve only asked for help if the last person to put the tire on used a hydraulic gun. And even then, I try all of the tricks I know (including using my own weight) to get it off. But I also know my physical limitations. And, in this one case, if some guy stops and offers to take the damned thing off and replace it, I’m going to gratefully let him (again, painful to be on the ground or bending over the tire). AND….I’m going to thank him for doing it, because I was taught to have manners and courtesy.  Just like I thank someone for opening a door for me.  It’s not AUTOMATICALLY that they think you can’t do it yourself, it’s that they want to help.  Look, if **I** who have serious trust issues can assume someone’s just trying to be courteous when they do these things, then anyone else can.

You want the “natural interest dichotomy” to stop? Start teaching your girls those skills just like you teach your boys. If you are an adult woman and don’t know how to do handy-man things around the house, get someone you know who knows how to do them to teach you (and DO NOT assume that your female friends don’t know how to do those things). Let your girls have a paper route (if your neighborhood still has papers) or any other kind of “boy job.”

ALSO, teach your boys how to cook; do groceries (AND learn how to budget and economize at need) clean correctly; wash/dry/fold laundry; do dishes; sew and mend; and any of the hundreds of other things that are considered “women’s work.” Let your teenage boys babysit (and encourage your friends or neighbors to let them babysit their kids) so that they learn how to take care of a baby, toddler or child. If you are an adult man and can’t do those things on the list, ask one of your friends to teach you – and DO NOT assume your other male friends don’t know how.

My nephews know how to cook, clean, wash/dry/fold; do dishes. Not so sure on the sewing/mending – but then again, that’s not my forte even though I’m trying to change that.

Hell, it doesn’t matter what gender you might be – you as a responsible, independent adult should be able to do most of these jobs.  If you can’t, ask someone you trust to teach you how.

What it takes to change that “women’s work” vs “men’s work” dichotomy is DOING that work, no matter what gender you are.

Categories: Feminism, Gender Inequities | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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