Monday, February 1, 2010

How sexism affects me

It's seems we've gotten past the point when it was possible to refer to women as "the weaker sex" or any of various other derogatory terms that used to be applied to women. But now it seems like we've just reversed that. Men are the "weaker sex" because they are powerless in front of sexual temptation and missing the necessary moral strength to be sensitive and understanding. A lot of this comes from the world, but I even hear a lot of these lines repeated in Church, such as women need to be extra careful not to offend their husbands because they are not as in control of their tempers as women.

What's crazy, though, is that both of these views result in the exact same gender roles. Before women were supposed to stay home and leave the real work of confronting the world to men. Now women are obliged to stay home because men are too weak to handle the stresses of the day to day tasks of raising children, instead they should just stick to what they're good at: earning money.

I, for one, am not great at earning money and feel like the roles I'm best at because I care the most about it is husband and father, not as breadwinner. Sure, I'm going to make sure that our family always has enough money to meet our needs, as the Proclamation on the Family says, but I refuse to make that my primary task. I don't want to live a life of income, but a life of involvement, involvement in the life of those I love the most.

What are your feelings about gender roles? Is there something in women that make them better nurturers or in men that make them better at earning a living? Let us know.


  1. Comment on the picture: Atticus is saying "See what I have to put up with? They are always kissing each other and not me!"

  2. First of all, that is a cute picture!

    Secondly, I agree. I feel as though I am violating the rules of nature by going to work everyday. Nathan is Eliza's primary caregiver throughout the day (and many nights so I can sleep) and you know what? It works for us. There are moments when I am sad I am not there all the time, but I know she is in good hand. I trust Nathan, of course. And he is a wonderful father, as are you.

    Nathan has often remarked how wonderful it is for Eliza to have TWO maternal figures. Haha. Not saying he isn't masculine, but his parenting isn't exactly the norm.

    I respect your role as a husband and father. Tending to a child is no easy task. You should be commended and hold your head high. Caitlin (I'm sure) can manage working and motherhood. You both lucked out.

  3. My thoughts on the topic: I'm all for mothers and father figuring out roles that fit their families and adjusting those roles as needed. Psychologically speaking, the fact that men tend to compartmentalize their lives makes it easier for them to hold a high-stress job with a family at home. An interesting generalization, but not limiting.

  4. I think you nailed it when you said fathers are responsible for making sure temporal needs are provided, and mothers are responsible for nurture, but each individual family is responsible for how that is accomplished. Christopher and I talk about changing our course, making less money, me working, him staying at home more. We are realizing that we are young, and educated, and can do whatever the heck we want. It's such a cool position to be in. As long as what you are doing works for all three of you, more power to you.

  5. Two things:

    1. Research shows that having multiple roles is correlated with improved psychological health, which supports the idea of working mothers, but I can see that extending to men as well, and it's more about having different roles than what the roles actually are. I think as long as people can be in roles that are meaningful to them and that promote good psychological health then it doesn't matter what they actually choose to do, whether being a stay at home dad or a working mother. I hope that made sense.

    2. I read an interesting article last semester that deconstructed the idea of women as being the default nurturers. From what I can remember, it gave a case of a culture where fathers had more contact with the children from birth and they were more nurturing, sensitive, and intuitive about their children than the mothers were. Actually, the mothers in that culture engaged with their children through rough play and typically "male" activities. Essentially, "nurturance" is at least somewhat culturally dependent and not an essential characteristic of either gender.

    Long-winded, sorry. :)

  6. Excellent post, Tim. I love reading half the post before knowing if you or Caitlin posted it. That's funny.

  7. I think women having breasts to feed their babies makes them the "nurturer" and men having more muscle mass makes them the "provider". And yet, women can pump their breastmilk and give it to their husband to nurture the baby, and most jobs nowadays don't rely on being able to lift and carry, so a woman can be a "provider" just as well as a man. The other "reasons" (I say "reasons" because I don't think they are very good reasons, so they are "reasons") that women are supposed to be the nurturer and man the provider are products of socialization and enculturation. For example, men being less emotional and having bad tempers is just social conditioning that perpetuates the gender role of having to stay out of the home and work.
    I learned in a class recently (I go to SLCC) that people who embrace androgyny (expressing whatever behavior that seems appropriate in a given situation instead of limiting responses to those considered gender appropriate) have higher levels of self-esteem, make better decisions in group settings, have better communication skills, and exhibit more social competence and motivation to achieve.
    Everyone should do exactly what they feel is right for their family, not worry about what men and women are "supposed" to do. Men and women are much more similar in all respects than they are different.

  8. This post by Caitlyn made my day. I pump 4 or 5 times a day and work full-time. My husband feeds, loves, and definitely nurtures our baby. It works out well.

  9. I think men make wonderful nurtures! Derek has taken care of Jackie and now that i am working part time gets to take care of Abby too!! on that same note my employer wont give me a break to pump in NM there are no break laws so they say they dont have to give me one...any ideas??

  10. I think that men and women are each good at different areas of parenting. Aidan asks for Bryan just as much as me, and he cries when both bryan or i leave. I think this day in age parents need to make themselves available enough to be whatever their children need them to be, and if there is time for both parents to work, then, hey, that is up to them. Every family has different things that work for them. As far as gender roles, Bryan and I are both capable of ironing, doing laundry, feeding Aidan, installing carseats, giving baths, and working. So I think it`s fine for either parent to stay home and either one to work. I don`t agree with becoming consumed with earning a living either. Some people do have to work more than others, but money should never be someone`s first priority. It won`t get back what someone has missed in their kids`s lives when they are grown and have their own families.

  11. Hi, I love the discussion going on here and I love your family picture at the end of the post. I just had to reply to the comment above by "The Stells!" There are so many great resources out there to help you talk with your employer about your need to pump at work. Here is one good site: Also, your local WIC (Women Infants and Children) should have brochures, pamphlets, and videos highlighting reasons why it will be in your employer's best interest to have you breastfeeding your child. You have lots of research to back up your case! Best wishes to you!