Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Our home is our own private government

My mother-in-law raised boys to become men. Today, he's more traditionally conservative in-laws look at him and say: He's one of those 'hands-on dads'.
Like, he can change a diaper!!
My mother-in-law didn't do gender stereotypes. As far as she was concerned, in her home, everyone chipped in to get the job done. Her husband, who couldn't even make himself a cup of tea before he married, soon learned not only to cook a Sunday roast, but to do a pretty damn good one too. Shocking, I know.

After posting the questions about equality-definition the other day, I realized that it really doesn't matter much what the government does to help families create balance in the home. If we are not up for changing our attitudes within our own personal sphere it's not gonna work anyway. It has to start in the home, from the beginning, otherwise it's a lost cause. We can get all the paid paternity leave, job-shares, shorter working days and cost-affordable day-cares we want, but if mommy is still doing all the ground-work in the home, it's not gonna change the signals we send our kids anyway.

So you're a woman and your fed up with being stuck in the trap of home-making and being a full-time mother. You'd like to work? Earn yourself a little money? A little independence? Would like to send a positive message to your kids, shake up the gender-rolls a bit?
But your children won't applaud you for suddenly turning in to a regular Erin Brockovitch, what they will remember is that you came home from a long day at work and still cooked their dinners, washed all their clothes, always made their beds and helped out with the homework, falling a sleep at the table when daddy was surfing on the computer or said goodbye as he left for tennis-practice with the mates.
Guess what your son will be looking for in his future wife? Guess what kind of wife and mother your daughter will become?
Policy change starts at home, in the family.


  1. Simple, very simple example:
    WHY are the baby changing facilities so often in the ladies room? Not in the mens room. They don't believe men are intelligent enough to change diapers? And we keep looking at it and sending the woman to change the diapers.
    Send the men into the ladies room if there is no other space available. WE have to change the attitudes everywhere, and it is the little things that makes a difference. Too.

  2. This is very true, and something my husband has pointed out time and time again. When he's spending the day with the kids he has to become very good at improvising when it comes to diaper-change.
    It goes so much deeper though. Look at all the advertisements for baby-products in this country. Baby-lotion, baby-wipes, whatever it might be, they are all labeled "tried and tested by mothers nationwide", or "a mommie's first choice". Media is a great source for reinforcing stereotypes, but we know that already, right?