As Traditional Roles Get Redefined, I Get Confused!

Deborah Welky


Back in the olden days (and by “olden,” I mean one generation ago), the social expectations of both the male and the female of our species were clearly defined. I don’t know who defined them, maybe evolution, but things were pretty clear cut. Men were hunters; women were gatherers. Men went to work; women “nested.” Men “brought home the bacon;” women “fried it up in the pan.”

I remember asking my father why the secretary at his office was a woman. Why wasn’t she at home? His answer? “She is a very, very sad woman.” This perplexed me as, every time I saw her, she seemed like the happiest person in the place. Today, I suspect she was.

Because it turned out neither males nor females cared for these social definitions. They wanted the freedom to choose their own lives, make their own decisions.

Some women wanted to establish careers outside the home. Some men wanted to stay home with the babies. Some women wanted to learn woodworking. Some men wanted to sew. Some women wanted to dress as men. Some men wanted to dress as women.

Nobody wanted to clean the bathroom, but that’s just self-preservation.

My point is, while all these freedoms are being pursued, it is possible to get confused. I know I am. And that is perfectly natural. There are a lot of choices. A lot of doors have opened up. In my case, I was finally able to take a carpentry course and build a deck. It was fun! The deck was crooked, but I had a great time. No one said we newbies had to excel right out of the box. I’ll get better with practice. Or I’ll choose never to do that again. It’s up to me.

Yet, in these modern times, we occasionally prefer to have direction. We can no longer rely on simply doing what is “expected” of us and, worse, once we make a choice, we become responsible for having done so. Bummer!

That’s why I am here today, to rescue anyone who wants imposed choices so they can blame someone else. Blame me. Those of you who are talented and secure in those talents may stop reading now but, for the others:

Men: You sharpen all knives and scissors. Otherwise, women will just buy new ones.

Women: You wash all the underwear. Otherwise, men will just buy new ones.

Men: You get jobs. I mean it. Get a freakin’ job!

Women: Watch the babies. Not the TV, the babies!

Men: Wash the cars. Both cars, not just your own.

Women: Make dinner. Everybody’s dinner, not just your own.

Men: Open doors for women.

Women: When a man opens a door for you, say, “Thank you.” He is not insulting you. He knows you can do it on your own; it’s merely a courtesy.

Wasn’t that fun? No, it wasn’t. And now you can see why such roles have fallen by the wayside. In parting, however, somebody, anybody please clean the bathroom!