Recently, my husband went to the grocery store to get things he needed to make dinner and he was approached by a family friend. A comment relating to the traditions between men and women was made, which made my husband uncomfortable. The comment may or may not have been meant as a joke but it made me think, none the less.
What is a gender role tradition? I think most people think of traditions like the song from The Fiddler on the Roof. You know:
“Who, day and night, must scramble for a living, Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers? And who has the right, as master of the house, To have the final word at home? The Papa! The Papa! Tradition!”
For me, a gender role tradition can be as positive or negative. Negatively, a tradition can be enforced based on the knowledge or lack of knowledge. It can also be enforced based on the refusal or the inability to see and accept truth. As a positive, a tradition is something that is done to show love, kindness, acceptance of self and others. Take stay at home moms. Before women had the rights they have today, women traditionally stayed home with the children because:
“Who must know the way to make a proper home, A quiet home, a kosher home? Who must raise the family and run the home, So Papa’s free to read the holy book? The Mama! The mama! Tradition!” ~Fiddler on the Roof
Once women began to work, some women maintained the tradition of staying home while others made the choice to work outside the home. This tradition can be seen as negative for those women who stay at home out of tradition but would have rather worked outside the home. For stay at home parents, both moms and dads, who choose to stay at home, they keep that tradition alive but in a positive way. They choose this lifestyle based on their family needs and not solely because history dictates it.
The comment in the grocery store made my husband upset because yes, traditionally cooking was a woman’s task but he happens to enjoy being in the kitchen. While he was upset, I had to laugh. He was at the grocery store buying for a dinner he would prepare and I was at home replacing a door knob.
I am not saying that we should do away with our traditions. I think that what works best for you may not work for the next person. Judging others for not believing what you believe is not how traditions should be carried out. The only tradition we should get rid of is judging others for being different.
We all have the ability to do anything we want. If I want to do home improvements because I enjoy it, I should not be judged by it. I enjoy meals prepared by my spouse and he enjoys the improvements I make to our home. It works for us and that is all that matters.
So remember, traditional gender roles don’t dictate what you can and cannot do. Your life is yours to do with as you choose. Start a new tradition today or embrace an old! Just do it for love, kindness and/or acceptance!