How non-traditional couples break the whole argument for traditional gender roles

December 27 2017 | Guest post by Joi Lusted
How non-traditional couples break the whole argument for traditional gender roles
Joi, the author and her husband, Phil

When I decided to write about gender roles, I did some Googling to see what else was already out there. Within minutes, I, to no surprise, was fuming over the disgusting things I was reading. No, I wasn’t coming across nasty YouTube comments. The things I was coming across were steadfast and deeply personal anecdotes about the NEED for gender roles. One bit of commentary in particular that stuck out to me most blatantly discredited couples planning to share responsibilities in and out of the home.

It stated very clearly that there are exceptions to the hard and fast rules of gender such as when “tragedies happen where a woman may need to provide additional income for their family because husbands can become ill or disabled," and God understands these exceptions. BUT a woman and/or heterosexual couple should never dare to plan on sharing the responsibility to “provide”; it is God’s will for men to provide, and God's will for women to submit and concern themselves with the home.

So where does my family fit in?

If it is God’s will for men to almost always be the sole providers, where does my partner fit in? My partner was born with a physical disability (you may know him from this guest post or from our wedding), and received many surgeries as a child to make it possible for him to do things most of us can automatically do with ease: walking, talking, typing, and so on.

Does that mean he doesn’t qualify to be a conventionally providing husband? And if so, does that mean he isn’t made by God to fulfill the role of a man?

Even still, there are physical limitations to what he can do. He couldn’t be a full-time welder or a diesel mechanic or a professional athlete without assistance and significant modifications to the workplace (which isn’t likely in any of those fields). Because he isn’t a physically conventional male, does that mean he doesn’t qualify to be a conventionally providing husband? And if so, does that mean he isn’t made by God to fulfill the role of a man?

Further, where does that line get drawn? To what level should he be removed from these roles he's supposed to fulfill, but cannot? Is he simply not fit to be a husband or father because he cannot be a typical provider? How much dehumanization needs to take place when the standards do not apply? These examples and conclusions may seem extreme, but our relationship finds the confines of traditional gender roles to also be extreme.

Naturally, I need to mention that modern gender roles are impossibly confusing. Eisenhower, Reagan, and (Teddy) Roosevelt were cheerleaders in their day, when cheer was considered a sport too “masculine” for women, what with the shouting, jumping, heavy lifting, and so on. Blue was long considered a delicate and feminine color, despite the current assignment of blue for boys. That being said, a lot of antiquated ideals also still exist. In modern culture, masculinity tends to be associated with dominance and strength, while feminine roles are associated with being gentle and subordinate.

If any of you reading have seen my posts on social media or know me in person, you're well aware how open, determined, and vibrantly passionate I can be. On the other hand, if anyone knows my husband Phil, they are well aware that he is kind, quiet, and gentle. These qualities alone really do break a lot of typical gender stereotypes. Aside from our personalities, though, we face a lot of situations daily that call for us to break away from the norm.

How we approach our own gender roles

Because I'm the physically larger person, I do a lot of running behind our toddler, keeping her out of things she shouldn’t be getting into, lifting her in and out of the car seat, and more. I also tend to make most of our meals. I do the heavy lifting, driving, and the regular car maintenance. I work a standard 9-5 out of the house in an industrial environment (think big trucks and manual labor). Phil’s responsibilities in our relationship range far and wide, including tidying up the house, washing dishes, and laundry. He helps our sweet kiddo dress morning and night as well as keeps her occupied throughout the day, and works from home in web design.

Marginalizing someone based on their gender leads to the belief that someone who does not comply with the norm is incompetent or invaluable.

To put it simply, if there was an expectation for Phil to deliver all stereotypical male responsibilities, his quality of life and happiness would plummet. The same can be said of the assumption that I should be a delicate, submissive, ladylike figure is laughable.

Marginalizing someone based on their gender leads to the belief that someone who does not comply with the norm is incompetent or invaluable. A typical day in our relationship abolishes what is considered normal in a relationship between a couple, and focuses on each others’ characteristics, and by doing so, we worry less about the paradigm and focus more on our happiness and harmony.

This post originally appeared on LittlePhilz.

  1. It goes both ways. I used to be the breadwinner of the family. My husband loved my independence. Now that I am going blind, I am having to be dependent on him. We lost our normal for traditional normal. It's definitely taking some getting used to.

  2. I am gay, married, and disabled. The one thing I found comforting about the blogs by women who espouse these ideals is that they valued homemaking in pre-motherhood. I could go on a rant to others about how my inability to work was okay because I was living the life of the Proverbs 31 woman. Luckily, going down the rabbit hole lead me to the modern hipster homemaker/self-reliant homestead movement, which is much more gay friendly.

    2 agree

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