I’ve got a few things on my To Do List that have been hanging out there for far too long. Things like “Wipe old laptop hard drive,” “Take bottles to LORL*,” and “Fix corner of kitchen table.”
I’ve been putting these things off lately, hoping that my dude will do them. They’re not hard (well, the HD-wipe might be, I don’t know). They’re not time-intensive. While wanting the dude to do these things make sense, since he has far better computer skills than I do, he walks right by LORL’s building everyday, and it’s his side of the table that needs fixing, when I think about it, all three of those things are, well, Things That Dudes Do. They fix machinery, and take out the trash, and repair little things around the house with their technical wizardry and manly know-how. Like I said in my last post, we can justify anything, if we want to.
I have been putting these things off for two weeks or more, but I haven’t quit making the bed, or picking up stuff around the house, or washing dishes, even though those things are unending, and what I’ve put into any one of them takes far more time and energy than all three of the tasks I’ve been avoiding combined. My guess: I do these daily things because they’re Lady Chores. And I’m (often mistaken for) a Lady.
Which brings me to the topic of brain colonization. I am a big mean nasty hairy-legged overeducated bonerkilling feminist. And I am still having to sort out and confront messages, both explicit and implicit, about the division of labor in my home. My dude is a quality dude, and we work together to make a life that is pleasant and comfortable for us, but we do fall into patterns that we abjure. So we have to stop, and assess, and re-group. Unlearning our gender-programming is a perpetual process.
But beyond that, I’ve been thinking about how living with a dude has led me to limit myself in ways that I consider, well, handicapping. If I were on my own, there would be no question about who would deliver the bottles, fix the table, or bleach my old computer (me, me, a knowledgable somebody paid to do that). But because there is a dude in my life, I’ve deferred those tasks to him, and as a stunningly unhelpful bonus, I’ve even occasionally resented him for not doing those things that I could be doing.
We each have strengths and weaknesses, and it only makes sense to use them to one anothers’ benefit. But there’s a risk, particularly since so many activities are gender-coded, that you (and/or your dude) could be denying yourself knowledge, competency, and even pleasure by sticking solely to your strengths. There’s always something that needs doing, so let me encourage you to push yourself to tackle a project that you’ve been resisting, whether its due to fear, discomfort, or because it’s “his job.” You might surprise yourself.
Now pardon me, I’ve got to dig up a razor blade and some epoxy. That table ain’t gonna fix itself.
*Little Old Recycling Lady. She and her husband, Little Old Recycling Man, live around the corner and ask everyone for their bottles and cans. We are too busy/lazy/spoiled to take a six-pack or a couple of two-liters to the grocery store for nickels, so we happily give them to the LOR Couple.