Today, I’m suffering from a terrible sinus infection. They seem to hit me every fall and every spring when the weather changes. Ugh. It’s not fun at all. I’m feeling light headed, stopped up, dizzy, and high off the meds. But, that isn’t stopping me from our normal Sunday routine – cleaning house and completing DIY projects.
This particular afternoon, I’m in the bathroom rearranging a light socket. Armed with screw drivers, a wrench and a Led Lenser flash light. On the other side of the house you will find Chris. In the kitchen, he is preparing dinner. The woman playing the role of electrician; while the man cooks in the kitchen. So we aren’t your typical husband/wife. Or are we?
I was definitely raised in a home where the “traditional gender roles” (think 1950s), were not so highly enforced. Granted my mom was a stay at home mom, but she was extremely innovative. Mom could sew and garden and take care of babies, but she could also handle a power saw, fix just about anything, and construct a new wall in the house if she needed to. My dad also took on diverse roles in the family. You see, my grandma Patsy taught her children to be independent. She didn’t care of they ever married or not. Thus my dad could cook and clean, do laundry and run a very efficient household.
Being the daughter of these two diverse parents, I was taught to take on just about anything. My dad also raised me with the mindset that I needed to know how to take care of myself and be independent. I find such high value in the fact that I can work with power tools, paint our home myself, mow the grass when needed, yet give the house a professional clean (I worked as a professional housekeeper) and cook a great meal for my hubby. I’m also incredibly blessed to have the husband that I do. He is very agreeable to do any chore I assign him. Yet, most of the time, I don’t have to assign him anything. He just does it. He will fix the car, build shelves, wash our clothes, clean the kitchen, and cook dinner, like he is doing today.
It honestly took me a very long time to be comfortable with who I am as a woman. Though traditional gender stereotypes are slowly fading, in some communities they are still strongly pushed on young women and men. It can become very destructive when we mix up traditional roles with Bibilcal roles. Not everything that conservatives declare as Biblical gender roles, are actually Biblical. And this is sad, that many Christians grow up in communities where they are pushed to be and act a certain way that may very well be unnatural, merely due to the fact that we are to be the culturally defined ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ instead of righteous men and women of God.
The chart below does not apply to myself or my husband, but I feel it may apply to many my age today.
I can only be thankful that I was taught to do all three tasks very effectively as a young child. And I hope to encourage my future children (if we have any) to break free of meaningless traditions. I never want to put them in a box that they were not created to fill. I want them to be independent and find their values and worth in Jesus, not in being a ‘strong’ man or ‘dainty’ woman that some societies praise.
If fact, looking back through history, men were not always the leaders and head of the household. As a Native American, I love exploring my history and roots. Check out what these cultures believed about women and men’s roles in society and in the home:
Women were seen as equal partners in every marriage because of the specific duties assigned to each gender. Without equal participation of both husband and wife, the family could not be sufficiently cared for. Certain nations, especially nomadic Great Plains nations such as the Lakota, encouraged women to also learn the arts of horsemanship, hunting, and warfare. While they rarely were required to use these, it ensured that the tiyospaye (family, or community, group) would never be left undefended even when all the warriors were away.
The roles of women vary greatly from one nation to the next, but in every case they were a respected, indispensable part of every community. More often than not, the wife had much more authority in the home than the husband and could decide to put him out of the home if he failed in his obligation to her. It was the role of a loving wife to always treat her husband with respect and to advise him in many different facets of life. Many societies were distinctly matriarchal. (1)
I also want to help others break free. It’s hard to live a life someone else defines for you. But, it’s incredibly liberating when you search Scripture for yourself and strive to become the person God created you to be. Don’t rely on others to write your role for you. Establish a living and passionate relationship with Jesus and follow him.
1. “An Overview of Women in Native American Cultures: Gender Roles in Native American Tribes” http://wychic.hubpages.com/hub/An-Overview-of-Women-in-Native-American-Cultures