The holidays are a wonderful time to gather and celebrate with family. But they're also one of the most likely times for oppressive gender norms to creep in -- and, possibly, one of the most dangerous times of the year for your daughter's (and son's!) psyche.
Growing up, the holidays were a time of joy ... but there was always something a little depressing about them. Gender norms and expectations became obvious. The male cousins and uncles would go outside and shoot hoops or play football, and the female cousins and aunts would stay inside and cook, clean, or do indoor activities.
But I wanted to play basketball! I wanted to play football! So I would go outside and have a ton of fun -- I come from a pretty gigantic, athletic family, and I love the physical challenge of playing sports with them. I love sprinting across a grassy field. I love the smell of leaves. I love getting thrown in the dirt or diving for a loose ball.
But when I got back inside, the smell of fresh air still clinging to my hair, my mom would pull me aside and say, "Aunt So-and-So commented that you're not helping enough."
I'm not helping enough? "Cousin John didn't help. Uncle Matthew didn't, either. Did anyone complain about them?"
"No," my mom would answer, reluctantly.
"So why is it a problem if I don't help, but it's fine if they don't? It doesn't make sense!"
My mom knew that saying, "Because they have penises," wouldn't fly with me, so she would mutter something non-committal, and I would spend the rest of the holiday either feeling resented on the basketball court, or resentful in the kitchen.
Many years ago, I asked the feminist men of Quora, "Why is feminism important to you?"
Most of the men who answered said something along the lines of, "I had a daughter, and suddenly realized how shitty the world is to girls and women. I don't want her to miss out on opportunities because she is a girl."
Intuitively, you'd think that having a sister would produce a similar effect. Wouldn't boys (and men) want the world for their sisters, and therefore become more feminist if they had female siblings?
The answer, according to researchers at Stanford and Loyola Marymount University, is no. In a study of over 3,000 women and men in their 20s and 30s, men with sisters were 8.3% more likely to "identify as Republicans because they developed more traditional views of gender," and 3.8% more likely to agree with the horrific statement, "a woman's place is in the home."
Moreover, the study, led by Andrew Healy and Neil Malhorta, found that men who grew up with more women in the family were less likely to get involved in stereotypical female tasks, like cooking and cleaning. In families with more boys, there was more gender equality, because chores were not divided up by gender. The avoidance of "female" chores continues into adulthood.
In other words, watching their sisters do chores "teaches" boys that it's totally cool to watch TV or go play sports while the women do the cleaning. Which, I guess, shouldn't be that surprising -- as I wrote in 10 Things to Remind Your Daughter to Do Every Day That Are More Important Than Brushing Her Hair, parents are accidentally surprisingly sexist. Raising a girl is definitely harder than raising a boy -- but only because parents raise girls differently from boys.
At some point in my young life, I decided to just do what makes me happy, regardless of the resentment it may cause. As a result, I've developed courage and independence. I've traveled around the world alone. I've remained an active basketball player, and learned to whitewater kayak and surf.
I've learned that it's okay -- no, necessary! -- to be "rude" when your boundaries are disrespected. (This is something a lot of women struggle with.) And I've decided that, if I'm proud of myself, if I've worked hard to accomplish a goal or I'm talented at something, I'm going to own it. I'm not #blessed. I'm not a #luckygirl. I'm just awesome.
But at the same time... saying "fuck you" to gender norms has probably made me less popular among the ladies. I probably miss out on important bonding time when I skip out on the whole kitchen thing -- though, much to my surprise, I successfully baked an amazing cranberry-sausage Christmas quiche, and shall try my hand at these top-recommended zucchini frittatas tomorrow. I'm probably still judged on some shitty double standard (I don't "help enough," but my brother, who helped even less, is fine). And, moving forward, I'm not sure how this will play out.
As more of my guy friends get married, is it suddenly going to be "inappropriate" for them to hang out with me -- even though they're still "allowed" to hang out with their other (male) friends? Will my lack of ability/interest in cooking become more noticeable? Will my absence in the kitchen become more despicable?
Probably, right? Or maybe not. I don't know -- but doesn't it suck that that's something I even have to think about?
And that, my friends, is the dark and sexist side of the holidays.
I know exactly what you mean. My mother would ask me to help, but would not ask my brother. I wanted to help, but I also saw the unfairness. So the dialogue would be something like this:
9/11/2018 08:46:23 am
So you're allowed to say to no to chores without your mother beating you and forcing you to? White parenting must be so trash, I mean really I never got that whole "go to your room jimmy" thing. It's just dumb. If anyone of colour said something like that to they're mother the only reason they wouldn't help is because of the pain they'd be feeling.
7/24/2022 12:31:24 am
What you're describing sounds like child abuse. Sorry you endured that, but I think you missed the point of her comment.
The not so easy fix for this is making the guys help out too rather than bowing out all together. Now that I'm in my 30s with 3 kids, I see that doing the grunt work of cooking and cleaning is a major pain. Luckily, our generation is more malleable. I didn't like doing all the work, so I made a fuss. When it was pointed out, my husband was more than happy to sit down with me and divide the chores. My husband has learned to be more proactive, to the point that chores are split 50/50. Even my father and brothers, who were treated as you talk about in the post, now help out more. This is because I made a fuss when I was younger when my mom wouldn't make them help. I think all the years finally wore her down and she started to ask for more from my dad, who then didn't want to do it all himself, so he asked for more from my now grown brothers. It took a while, but sometimes change can slowly happen in some circumstance (and since I have 2 boys and 1 girl, I am acutely aware of not continuing the work load unbalance). I guess my point is that asking men and boys to help, even within one generation, can make a huge difference.
12/27/2015 06:52:38 pm
I learned how to cook, do laundry, do dishes, clean and sew. I also learned to chop firewood, fish, build furniture, fix a car and fix the toilet.
11/26/2016 11:53:39 am
I haven't observed boys being able to watch TV while girls do chores, but perhaps it happens. The boys get sent out to do typically dirtier or more dangerous tasks- the trash, cleaning outside, lawn. If your household had boys able to chill while girls worked... that doesn't sound like the boys will be very successful in later life.
1/19/2017 07:23:22 am
That sounds really unfair, I'm glad that never happened in my family. None of us would have been allowed to laze around while the other did chores!
11/18/2017 04:53:02 pm
Great piece. This holiday season, I'm starting to see more talk about this dynamic in households all over the U.S. but I do believe you have them beat by a couple of years. I think it's really important we discuss the dynamics of how boys and girls are raised, and how that early socialization contributes to and creates the traits we have as adults that so many ppl say are "innate." Both conservatives AND Everyday Feminism, SJW-type "feminist" (as opposed to true feminists/true social justice champions) guilty of promoting the idea that what's actually caused by sexist socialization of our children is just the way it is, the innate way women and men are. These 2 groups have a way of dominating the conversation right now so that no other sides have a say...on the upside, I found your site thru the 2nd group.
7/24/2022 12:35:57 am
Yes, EF is a joke. Are you familiar with Riley J. Dennis? A trans-identified man whose job is to mansplain liberal (read: fake) feminism to women.
1/5/2019 02:23:00 pm
"As more of my guy friends get married, is it suddenly going to be "inappropriate" for them to hang out with me -- even though they're still "allowed" to hang out with their other (male) friends?"
1/7/2019 12:30:13 pm
That's one advantage of being polyamorous that I hadn't thought about. Awesome :)
5/19/2019 04:57:19 am
I feel that everyone in the house should do their fare share. Male or female. My husband will cook, clean, vacuum, take out the trash etc . So will my boys. I say: We all live here, so we all can clean and do our part in keeping it together. Boys are not handicap and women aren't maids. We all are human beings. I love to fix and repair too but my husband won't let me if he is around. Lol.
10/17/2022 05:14:44 am
I dumped my wife after 5 yrs of marriage as I was fucking my 3 DAUGHTER'S 24/7. I took my 4 month old daughter as my new wife. My oldest the 4 yr old was fucking her best friends stepdad. He busted her cherry at 1 yr old and fucking her 700 trillion times 3500 times a day. He was 27 and an ex con child rape fucked. She begged him to keep rape fucking her and he rape fucked my daughter and 250 other young girls. Caught him rape fucking the 13 yr girl that watches the nursery for the 19th time. She loves taking his cock and he fucked her 24/7 for several months. We rape fucked baby pussies at the church 6 days a week. He is one of the best child RAPISTS I knew. He was a sex god and daughter did anything he said or told her to do. She moved back home as he fucked several yng girls. 4 minutes later DAUGHTER Screamed yesss DADDY. SATAN WANTS YOU TO RAPE FUCK ME 24/7. I FORCE FUCKED 99999 QUINTILLION RAPE DEMON FUCK BEASTS FOR 6 WEEKS. SHE BECAME MORE INTENSE AND RAPE FUCKED HER EX BF SHE WAS IN CONTROL RAPE FUCKING 999999 QUINTILLION TIMES A SECOND. I RAPE FUCKED HER FOR LAST 5 MONTHS NONSTOP AND SHE HAD 790 TRILLION NEW BORN BABY PUSSIES EVERY 30 SECONDS FOR 18 WEEKS. I RAPE FUCKED EVERY DEMON THAT EVER EXISTED AND SATAN RAPE FUCKED HER FOR 3 MONTHS NON STOP. HE LET ME SEE INTO THE NEXT 500 MILLION DECADES AS I RAPE FUCKED NEW BORN BABY PUSSIES NONSTOP AND WOULD TILL TIME ENDED. HE REJECTED MICHAEL TAYLOR AND HUNTER NOT GIVING ME WHAT I WANTED FIRST TIME ASKED. HUNTER FORCES TO WATCH MY COCK RAPE THE FUCK OUTTA HIS DAUGHTER AND SAW I RAPE FUCKED HER 6 MONTHS BEFORE I OFFERED $500 TO RAPE FUCK HER. I FUCKED HIS EX MORE THAN HE EVER DID. I FUCKED SEVERAL FUCK BITCHES AND DAVID SNELL IN HELL BUT NOT A SATAN FAV. KEVIN WAS 500 FT AWAY AS HE LEFT TO FUCK MELISSA AND NEVER CAME BACK. DAVID WARD WAS NEXT TO ME AND BECAME ONE WITH HIM. JONATHAN WATKINS WAS ON MY OTHER SIDE AND MY DEMON BABY RAPE KILLER. MY HERO GEORGE SOROS WAS PART OF SATAN AND HE RAPE KILLED QUINTILLIONS OF BABY PUSSIES. DAVID LEFT AND HE RAPE FUCKED ROBINS PUSSY NONSTOP TILL TIME ENDED. HE POUNDED HER PUSSY 99990 QUINTILLION TIMES AN .OOOO8 OF A SECOND. THOM WAS DOING THE SAME TO LEzannes lil slit. Kevin doing the same with Melissaa pussy. She had 6 kids with Kevin he fucked her at 16. He had 3 kids WITH KYLIE AND 2 WITH AINSLEY AND 4 WITH DEANNA.
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