I’m well aware of the fact that this account is going to ruffle some feminist feathers. Admitting to anything anti-the-independent-woman is never well received. But sometimes the truth can set a sister free.
We are often drawn to the familiar, be it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. The familiar for me, was a father who liked to do the so called man stuff. He changed my tyre, fixed the blown fuses, got behind the dishwasher to retrieve the dead mouse, paid for mine and my mother’s dinner from his personal account, even though they also shared one. Dad wasn’t always the most affectionate or verbal man, but his way of showing love was to do those jobs that his girls didn’t really want to do. Mum always left a list of chores by the microwave. You know … clean the BBQ, cut down that dead tree etc. She told me that the list was there for the times my father was in the marital dog box. She always knew he was sorry when one or more of the things on the to-do list got completed. Alas, wedded bliss was then restored. Was it the ideal mode for communicating remorse? Possibly not. But, it worked for them and they have been married for over 30 years. She knew him well enough to know that saying the word sorry and fixing the gate meant the same thing. However, one was far more difficult for a proud man than the other.
Like many young women, I hit my teens and my anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-just-as-well-and-probably-better, I-am-woman-hear-me-roar stage. But, I must admit, as I have matured and become sure of my ability to look after myself, I enjoy a man about the house doing his man things. I don’t feel the need to assert my strong femininity and independence any longer, as I know and respect who I am. I have that inner confidence in my ability to solve any problem and face any challenge. This belief is an ingrained and concrete part of me; a part that was encouraged and nurtured by both of my parents. Although Dad was happy to change that tyre, I was hauled out to the garage and taught how to do it myself for emergencies, as well as - a disturbing lesson - how to unclog a toilet.
I have lived, without a partner, for many years now and I function superbly in my very biased opinion. However, after flatting with girls for the year we have welcomed a lad into the mix. He lights the fire before we get home, he brings the wood in from the garage and he puts the bins out on rubbish day. When the power goes out, he straps his head torch on and gets up into the fuse box to have a poke around. The other morning as I made my coffee in the kitchen, I could hear a power-drill in the bathroom as he put a shelf up for all the girly potions to live on, along with his solitary toothbrush. Could I have done all of these things myself, absolutely. Do I enjoy doing them, no sorry I do not. Does he? Well he seems to, as nobody asks him to do it. So I don’t see why we have to over-think it.
And I have a few little jobs of my own that I don’t mind all too much. I vacuum and clean the stove-top, minus the 1940’s kitchen pinny apron (although they are actually quite functional … I should get one). Is it because I am a woman and I think it is my job? Nope. They are just two household chores that I find quite therapeutic; especially when I suck up forgotten hair-clips that clink their way through the vacuum pipe. Marvellous.
In the case of a man and a woman cohabitating together, be it romantic, or otherwise, is it really all about falling into gender roles? Or, is it about showing care and respect. We all take care of each other in different ways. We all like to feel useful and part of the team. As long as those team-mates feel respected, appreciated and accepted for their efforts, whatever they may be, I don’t feel the need to get my liberal panties in a bunch about it. As Sheryl Crow put it so eloquently, ‘if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad’. And sitting by the fire looking at the suck rating of vacuums online makes me far happier than pushing those retched smelling bins out in the sideways, icy rain. Just call me Martha … I’ll get over it.
archive - issue 14
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 06:10