Random Thoughts: The Who’s the Man Edition

I can’t give my son a pink plate or bowl.

Of course the woman’s study student/social liberal in me is pretty appalled by this inability. I tell my girls all the time (and I do truly believe this in my heart of hearts): There aren’t boy colors or girl colors.

I could even do a long and pretty well-informed rant about the fact that pink used to be the color for baby boys (the softer version of red, which was considered a masculine color). And how marketers have co-opted the color pink for girls for their own nefarious purposes. (Not that making money is nefarious, but the whole gender-ization of toys and programming is, IMO.)

And yet, every time I reach to set the table, I give Michael a blue, green, orange, or yellow plate, while one of the girls gets purple (we have a system as to who gets the purple plate on what day. I should just buy another purple plate), and the other one gets another color, including, possibly, pink.

I have no problems when M decides to put on his sisters’ shoes to wander around in. If he wants to play with a doll, I’m good. If he even wants to try on a skirt for dress-up pretend play or slip one of my bracelets up his little arm, no alarms go off in my head. When someone else gives M a pink dish or bowl at mealtime (as has happened), I don’t hurriedly switch it out. I don’t care.

But I can’t give him one myself. How weird is that?


I will also admit that when it comes to household chores, I am a total sexist. I think Dan should take care of the following: yard work, the cars, any handy-man chores (plumbing, painting, etc.), taking the garbage out for collection, mopping the kitchen floor (it’s labor intensive, especially with how seldom we actually mop the kitchen floor). Now I also believe that Dan can stay with the kids alone for a couple of hours, and he is very capable of changing diapers and giving baths, and I happen to know that he is a better brunch maker than I (although I rock the French toast).

But it bugs me when I have to bug him to, for example, take out the trash. Shouldn’t he just know he has to do that because he’s the guy? It’s his chore! Why do I have to remind him every week?

Again, the feminist in me is kind of appalled at this kind of thinking. But in practical terms, we’re a pretty gender normative household. Dan makes more money than I do, works more hours, and I do the bulk of the household and childcare stuff. I’m not too resentful of this. If I made more, or if our situation called for a stay-at-home parent, and Dan wanted to do it and it made financial sense, I’d sign on for that.

Is being gender normative equal to being a lazy feminist?


On the other hand, I did respond to a tweet about splitting the check on a date. The tweet asserted, “Now women are supposed to split the check on a first date? Man UP! Call (not text), hold the door, and pick up the check!” I tweeted back, “What if *she* wants to split the check?” My thoughts were along the lines of two things: First, women coming out of school now are making more or as much as men right now. (That can change over the course of her career; pay inequity still exists, although by the time my girls are in the workforce, it may literally be a thing of the past.) Second, splitting the check, especially on the first date, keeps expectations light and allows for more room to consider a second date.

So with that, maybe my feminist bona fides are still in order.

21 thoughts on “Random Thoughts: The Who’s the Man Edition

  1. The whole point of feminism is to give women CHOICES. So, if a woman loves pink girly things and staying home with her kids and all of the ‘traditional’ identifiers – great. If a woman wants to work a high power job, makes lots of cash, and pay for a housekeeper/nanny/whathaveyou – also, great.

    So, no, it doesn’t make you a bad feminist. It simply means those were the choices you made as a family based on your current circumstances. A true non-feminist would believe that there was no other alternative to the traditions and that if circumstances change women still aren’t supposed to do ‘men’ labelled activities.

    I am a SAHM, I do most of the childcare, all of the housework, all of the yardwork, and the general day to day keeping up with the family sorts of chores and tasks. I might as well don a girdle, crinoline, a poodle skirt and sweater, and a set of pearls. I am so painfully a 50’s housewife it’s not funny. But I’m ok with it and I still consider myself a feminist. Why? Because it was my choice (and my husband had input, too!) to do it this way. Because it works for our family. If circumstances dictated a different arrangement, that’s what we would do. THAT is what feminism is about.

    • First of all, you would look lovely in a poodle skirt and crinoline.

      Second, yes yes yes: It is about choice. That’s what drives me batty about the Judgey McJudgersons out there. Didn’t our foremothers fight the fight so we could DO WHAT WE WANTED TO DO? Stay home, work, have babies, don’t have babies, pilot a jet — whatever.

      I, however, do not choose to mop my floor. That’s Dan’s job. And I think I walk to line between “traditional” and non. I like to work outside the house; I love being a mom; I’m very practical about what I wear; I also love to throw on a dress, some heels, and some special undergarments for a night out with my man. So, yeah. CHOICES.

  2. Food for thought… one chore I have taken over and REALLY like is taking out the trash. Not just from kitchen to garage (I get to raid the chocolate supply in the garage freezer) but the cans to the curb and back. It helps that the cans are on wheels, yes.

    There’s just something about taking out the trash that makes me feel like I’m taking care of my home. Weird, I know, but… there it is.

    • I *HATE* taking out the garbage AND mopping the kitchen floor. I hate cleaning the bathrooms, too, but I hate having a filthy bathroom even worse. So I roll up my sleeves, don rubber gloves, and have at it. As far as I’m concerned, the toilet cleaning brush was a brilliant invention.

  3. I have no comment on the plate question since I was distracted by the fact that the background of this female blog is powder blue, and the letters reading “Red Pen” are, in fact, orange. Your issues are deep, very deep.

  4. I also want my husband to take out the trash without being asked. In the end, I do it. I’m home, not making any money. So I take out the trash. Recycling has always been my job. I might as well.

    As for boys and colors, my son insists on getting the hot pink cups and plates and will fight with his sister over it. I know he only wants it because it makes her mad, but lately he grabs them when he’s by himself. The real reason is that red is his favorite color and we have no red cups or plates. Pink is just the closest thing.

    • The argument Dan and I have is: Please do what I ask when I ask it. I hate nagging, and I hate “doing it myself”.

      Hence, my kitchen floor. (I am beating a dead horse, I know.)

      As for kids and colors: right. It doesn’t matter if a boy likes pink or a girl likes blue. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just not anything to be riled up about.

  5. My husband does the dishes and the trash. I do the cooking and the laundry. Also we split the baby diapering/bathing responsibilities fairly equally. I still have to remind him to do the trash (and sometimes the dishes) and it makes me INSANE. I know the feeling He does do it though, because I hate doing the dishes and trash so much that I’d much rather nag nag nag him then do it myself.

    • I cook, I clean, Dan is a good cleaner when he feels like it, we pay someone else to do the laundry, and Dan SHOULD take out the trash, but he needs to be reminded. And, yes, what I said above. I will be a nag. sorry. If I wanted to do it myself, I would already.

  6. If I am setting the table or doling out cups like you I don’t give anything pink to the boy, but he often demands the pink things. When he wants the pink cup I don’t argue. (The pink cup has actually been in our house since before we even had a girl since I sent his color blind dad to buy extra sippy cups and that’s what returned.)

    Because I had a boy first, initially there wasn’t much “girl” stuff in the house. The girl got blue, red and green things. She played with Thomas. However, the longer the girl is around the more I find myself getting her girl things. For example, we were at Disney World last week. I got him a Mickey shirt and her a Minnie shirt. (And my parents got her even more Minnie stuff.) My feminist conscience tells me that Mickey would have been fine for her too, which it would have been. Still I buy her the Minnies and the dresses and the Mary Jane shoes. Her room has a pink motif.

    I like to think that I will support my children’s choices in toys and favorite colors and everything else, but no matter what we do before they are able to make those choices fully for themselves is an imposition (whether it be following gender stereotypes or mindfully staying gender neutral). It’s maddening to think about, so I try not to. I just hope everyone turns out okay, and I truly believe they will no matter what color plate they have.

    • It’s funny, because with two girls in the house first, you would think I would have a crap ton of girlie toys. But it turns out, we actually have a lot of “gender neutral” stuff. Puzzles and games, Little People stuff, even cars for some reason. The dress up clothes are pretty girlie, and I guess technically Littlest Pet Shop are more girl toys. We also have blocks and Legos (Kate *loves* her Legos), and Zuzu pets, which again are a little more girlie.

      You capture it perfectly in that final paragraph: Choosing for our kids de facto “imposes” something on them. It is maddening, and I usually don’t think about it, but I started recently noticing the thing I was doing when I was picking M’s dishes, and it struck me. So, yes, everyone will be fine, “no matter what color plate they have”.

  7. When I spent time with two of my nephews (4 and 6) this summer, they played with my kid’s dolls. And one of them asked me not to tell their dad, which I thought was sad. For the love of Pete, my kid was the mom, the older nephew was the dad (maybe THAT could be a problem), and the younger one was one of their kids along with the dolls. I don’t think too many if any toys are/should be gender-specific, but like you, I would not give one of my nephews a pink Barbie cup.

    I better go hug the hubs since I never have to tell him to take out the garbage or do any yard work. But he often has to get on my case to vacuum and dust…

    • That is a little heart-breaking that a little boy wanted to play with a doll and had to say, please don’t tell my dad.

      And good on your husband! I do a lot around the house, and as a result, I’m firmly entrenched on what I don’t do and what are Dan’s jobs. So, yeah, I’m a nag. And also a terrible duster. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. We split chores, though I usually prefer doing the dishes to vacuuming the floor. My wife is no feminist. She still wants me to lock the front door at night. But she usually insists on fixing stuff around the house. Sometimes I feel a little emasculated by this, but then I remember that I suck at fixing things. And I, too, will not eat off a pink plate. We all know that’s a slippery slope to Project Runway and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

    • I find it hard to believe that your wife isn’t a feminist — as in someone who believes that woman and men deserve equal treatment and equal pay, etc. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You better double check on that, ‘bagger. I am so glad that Dan is so handy. He’s often short on *time* which is another issue, but he can fix things. It’s kinda sexy.

      • Don’t get me wrong, she’s strong and independent. She just doesn’t choose gender issues as her causes. She would definitely bristle at the “feminist” label. She still has a little Red State in her when it comes to sexual morals, abortion, and the consequences of promiscuity. Like the President, she has only recently ventured over the line of Gay marriage. She is moved more by general issues such as poverty and economic injustice as it applies to all. I’ve never heard her ever talk about equal pay and treatment. But I’ll check.

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