A man should plant a tree, build a house, and have a son.
A woman should water the tree, clean the house, and look after the two idiots.
This ingenious quip was discovered deep in the pits of an internet discussion. I absolutely love it.
The reason I love it is that I can cynically laugh along with it. Whilst I acknowledge that, for some women (as for some men), taking care of others might very well translate into a lifetime vocation (after all, there’s nothing wrong with being a housewife or househusband if you love what you’re doing and see purpose in it – which is heaps more than can be said about many others who work uninspiring jobs and come home to microwave dinners for one), I appreciate the freedom I have to live exactly how I like and do precisely what I want. That is, without having to conform to a predefined gender role.
A friend of mine accuses feminists of confusing gender roles. I’d go further than that and say that feminists are doing away with gender roles altogether.
What are gender roles? They’re not sexes in their strict, biological, sense, but rather – and I’m surprised how feminist this sounds coming from me, since I claim no such affiliations – social constructs sprouting from the biological sexes. Since men and women complement each other biologically – to procreate – they consequently complement each other socially as the core of a family, which is in turn the building block of society.)
Feminists are wiping the grime of gender roles off the face of humanity with angry rags, leaving behind female and male members of society with no pre-defined social roles owing to their sex.
If you’re craving mental exercise, try defining an emancipated woman (or an emancipated man, if you wish). You’re very likely to discover that the characteristics you listed could just as well apply, quid pro quo, to the other sex. That’s because there is no difference between female and male emancipation: as human beings, we have no specific general needs that spring from our sexes (albeit we might have them as parents, as people with disabilities, et cetera).
Think about same-sex couples (who seem to be doing no worse a job of raising little monsters than different-sex couples) as an example: the social roles are still there (the carer, the provider, the what-have-you), whilst the gender roles are absent. The movie The Kids Are All Right (which I immensely enjoyed sitting sandwiched in the cinema theatre between two couples – one adorably goofy, the other gay) was a poignant reminder that same-sex families deal with the same issues as different-sex families: the responsibilities, the issues, the problems are still there.
Therefore, my theory is that we will eventually come to a point where gender (unlike sex) will be inconsequential. This might seem confusing to some at the outset, but ultimately, I think it will better cater to our individual needs as members of society and create more room for our individual (and variegated) awesomenesses to come out into the light. Right? Feel free to polemise!