I like to think I don’t help reinforce traditional gender roles. I like to think that I’m part of a family that allows me to be a strong woman and that helps me be someone who will be progressive and great.
But every time I get reunited with my parents, I just seem to fall back into a person that I’m trying to fight against. My parents came up for the Thanksgiving Break, and while I feel I should be grateful for the fact that they’re here, sometimes it’s hard to accept that they’re so different from what I sometimes want them to be. Of course I love my parents, and I’m so glad they’re here. But they represent an idea and an era that I don’t want to repeat in my life.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not actually a bad ideal, but the fact that it’s present bothers me. And sometimes I wonder whether it bothers my mother too. My mother is always up and cooking and cleaning up. My father is always seated and waiting for his meal at the table. As my mother’s daughter, naturally I help to clean and cook as much as possible. However, this grates on me, and not just because I don’t actually like cooking or cleaning, but because my dad usually doesn’t move a finger to help. I’ve heard my mother mutter complaints under her breath about this too, and I wonder whether it actually bothers her. However, those few times when my dad has stood up and made an effort to help, my mother chases him out of the kitchen because he is ‘useless’ and ‘doesn’t know how things are done’.
And that’s where I understand why society functions the way it does back at home. Because everyone, not only my dad, but my mom, reinforces it with their actions. And now, I find myself living it too, to the point where there was a moment I felt resentful because my sister wasn’t helping ‘as she should’.
Why is it that, even though I know that men and women are equal, and that traditional gender roles are meaningless, I find myself reinforcing them? Why, to show that I’m the ‘perfect woman’, do I have to be able to clean and cook and take care of whatever male happens to find himself in my house at that time?
I just want to be myself, without need to prove I’m the ‘perfect woman’. I want to be able to say that I can’t cook without people thinking that’s ridiculous, because I’m a woman and should be able to cook. I want to be able to sometimes be lazy and not clean, because girls don’t always have to be pristine. Can’t I just be myself?