suburban gender transgressions

So I was feeling pretty proud of myself this afternoon. I was out mowing the lawn, while landisdad was inside, making dinner. Doesn’t sound very transgressive, does it? But in my neighborhood, it’s weird for a woman to cut the lawn. There’s only one other married woman on our street who cuts her own lawn–even some of the single women hire it out. But I think it’s important for the Bee & the SP to understand that women can do shit like that too.

In our house, the division of labor is pretty ungendered. Landisdad does 98% of the cooking (the other 2% occurs on nights he has to work late, and I don’t take the kids out to dinner), he cleans the kitchen, and does a fair amount of childcare (also known as parenting, in our house). I do most of the laundry, clean the bathrooms, manage the money, and do the big picture thinking about the house (i.e.–calling painters, dealing with repair people, making major purchases).

Some of those things (like the cleaning of various rooms) were established early in our relationship. Some of them (like the managing of money and the parenting) have developed over time. A lot of them boiled down to, which one of us cared more about the way a thing looked or was. The lawn, for example. I grew up in the Jersey suburbs, where people whose lawns are overgrown are somewhat akin to serial killers, in the eyes of the neighbors. He grew up in the People’s Republic of Berkeley, where the idea that you could legislate vegetation is pretty limited to controlled substances. I’ve done a lot to cast off the shackles of my suburban upbringing, but I still cringe when our grass gets to be more than knee-high on the kids. So I’m the prime mover of lawnmowing.

On the other hand, I hate to cook. I’ve never liked it at all, and one of the main reasons that I agreed to marry landisdad (as opposed to just living in sin in perpetuity) was that he actively likes to cook, and is really good at it. If it were up to me, our kids would never eat vegetables, because I’m not a big vegetable eater. But thanks to him, we have healthy, well-rounded meals nearly every night of the week.

Most of the time, I never think about the fact that for many women, the idea that their husband would do all of the cooking is just plain weird. Earlier this week, however, I ran smack up into the fact that our arrangement is not the norm. I was dropping the Bee off at school, and another mom, who is coordinating a multi-cultural dinner at school, asked me what we were bringing. “I don’t know,” I said. “You haven’t figured it out yet?” “No, landisdad’s cooking it. I’m sure he knows what he’s making–I just haven’t asked him.” {strange look} “Okay.”

It’s nice to feel like you’re living on the edge once in a while. But after I came in from mowing the lawn, I sat down to read the latest issue of Bitch. And I realized that what I know about genderfucking could fit in a teacup.

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April 16, 2005. politically motivated.

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