“Not in my nature”

I’d like to thank my mother for bringing me up with higher expectations for myself than to fall into traditional gender roles. I also thank her for allowing me (albeit sometimes grudgingly) to see the value in traditionally ‘female’ tasks too. Now as an adult (of sorts), when I cook or clean, or sew or do any of these practical things or nice things for myself or other people, I do so out of choice (or necessity) but not out of any gendered sense of duty, obligation or ‘nature’. The problem comes when other people don’t see my undertaking of these things in the same way.

When I cook a nice meal for someone, and they don’t appreciate the effort or thank me, I realise that they must not quite see that cooking is something I learned to do, and, well, yes, it is something I enjoy, but still something into which I put time and effort, and for which I would like some appreciation. I am not an automated food machine because of my biology. It is not in my nature.

When I clean the house/pots/clothes, I don’t enjoy it. It’s as much as a pain in the arse for me as it is for most other people (cleaning fanatics aside). Sometimes, though, you just have to take responsibility for mess. I am not a utopian domestic goddess because of my biology. It is not in my nature.

When I have to interact with kids, I often find it terrifying. We get on well though. I make an effort because they’re people too, and I remember that it’s hard being a kid. But in the past people have expected me to be able to just pick up babies, squiggly screamy messy things, and know what to do with them. I am not a natural child-friendly caregiver because of my biology. It is not in my nature.

Executive summary: Things that people seem to take for granted as being mere parts of my ‘female nature’ are learned and required effort, and thus deserve recognition.


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