by Jessica Ranae
FW Staff Writer
It goes like this: I make dinner, and he does the dishes. I fold the clothes, but he does the laundry. We get separate checks when going out (pretty much since the first date), and we both work and support each other’s careers. Everything is even, exactly as it should be.
With some of my friends gender roles have been a little more pervasive in their relationships, and in some of my past relationships gender stereotyping has also been more evident. The bill isn’t always split, the girl is expected to stay home and care for the kids, and the guy is expected to be more successful. One of my very best girlfriends actually values this traditional stereotype of gender roles; she is happy with playing the wifey role and staying home with her boyfriend’s kids. She looks for a man with a solid career and children so she can have that kind of life. But my other, more casual, friend supported her boyfriend all on her own when he was out of work—she worked two jobs all day to pay the bills and he stayed home and cooked and cleaned.
In my own relationship, most things are split between us. Yet recently my boyfriend has had trouble landing and keeping jobs which worries him financially for our upcoming move out of our small town into a big city in August. I have told him again and again that when it comes time to move, I will support him (as long as he pays me back within reason). Yes, I have made more money than he has and yes, he is completely okay with that. My boyfriend declares himself a feminist simply because he believes in equality no matter what. Traditional gender roles that dictate that men must be the breadwinner do not permeate into our relationship. It’s absolutely sexy and liberating when he’s cleaning up after breakfast and I kiss him goodbye as I’m off to work.
What I think has really helped influence this non-conformist attitude regarding gender roles is growing up with a working mother and mostly stay-at-home dad. My mother worked a nine-to-five job every day and came home very late in the evening from work. My father only worked twice a week for 24-hour periods and had the rest of the week off. He picked me up from school, took me to the mall and to play dates, tied my shoes and dealt with my temper tantrums. Since my parents shared both duties associated with traditional gender roles, I never found it out of the ordinary that my mother went to work while my father took care of me.
Now as an adult with a romantic partner whom I live with, feminism is constantly reflected through our everyday life. My boyfriend and I never think twice about gender roles because they just don’t exist in our relationship. Everything is equal between us, and we know if one of us needs some support—we are there for each other.