Ah, division of labor and gender roles. One line of a disturbing Dan Savage column made mention of the fact that a reasearcher he quotes was wrong in asserting that gender is socially constructed. He says little more about that, but the comments take off with all kinds of information and anecdotes about gender roles (hardwired? taught? both?)
All I know is that when I was a kid, my folks didn't adhere to traditional division of labor. Both of my parents worked. If Mom didn't work, my sister and I begged her to go back to work. My mom bored? Nobody wants. Trust me on this one. Otherwise, if a job needed doing around our house, everyone worked on that job until it was done, whether it was cleaning, cooking or doing the yard work. It was a big deal the day I graduated from trimming the fence line to getting to actually mow the grass. Damn, I'd arrived. Then I grew up, got married and promptly did my best to eliminate having grass at all. Mom was once heard to snap at a young man complaining that cleaning was women's work "The only thing that's women's work is having babies and that's because you don't have the right plumbing!"
That said, Keith and I have broken along more traditional gender role lines. We didn't at first. We both worked jobs in one aggressive tech company or another. Evenings and weekends were filled with chores and grocery shopping. We were miserable. Then a job change gave us a shot at trying out living as a one income family. I stayed home and became house manager while Keith worked. It seemed to work out pretty well and I wasn't bored, the way I feared I would be. I wrote a lot. Then Keith's folks got sick. We talked and decided it was time to move home to Washington state (we were in Nevada) and try switching roles. I went to work for a start up. Keith took over as house manager. His parents recovered.
Keith was miserable, again. He did go back to school to brush up on coding skills during that time, but the repetative, mundane tasks of dealing with a house, cats and solitude really got him down. The start up tanked. I was out of work. We swapped again. And we've stayed swapped. Which isn't to say it's perfect. Yeah. Have a look at the photo again. That was moving aboard the boat. It was pretty much all me trying to find places to put that crap.
We diverge from traditional roles when it comes to repair work. I'm all about that. Hand me that screwdriver and that wrench. I got this. Keith isn't keen on household repairs. He's far more invested in boat repairs - the man can totally rewire a 12 volt system. But for the most part, since I come from a family with no boys and I was the oldest, I ended up as my father's surrogate son. No, really. There was this study I read...someone tell me why I can remember having read this stuff but I can never recall enough about it to ever find it again, much less remember *where* I saw it? In any event, hanging with Dad, I got all the tutorials on stuff like repairing dry wall, hanging wall paper, measure twice, cut once and preferably not cut you. Useful stuff.
But I'm curious. Talk to me about gender roles. Are females more hard wired than males to care about clean? Or is that social conditioning telling us we're failures as women if we aren't caretaking?