Heather Keith Freeman (jnanacandra) wrote,
Heather Keith Freeman

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breaking down stereotypes

Okay, so I've always hated gender stereotypes. The little girl in a pink dress and pigtails playing with dolls, being called cute, learning to cook and sew and keep house with mama - even when I was very young I fiercely rejected anything having to do with the stereotypically feminine. It's only in recent years that I've started breaking down that wall, admitting I like gardening and sewing and that having a clean and organized home is important to me. (Cooking's still a ways off, though ;P)

However just now I had a very startling and disturbing realization. By rejecting the stereotype on the surface, I was in fact accepting the underside - accepting that housework is "women's work", and that that is somehow unworthy. I looked at the stereotype as a whole and said I wanted no part of it - but I still allowed it to be real in my head, with all the insidious assumptions that go along with it.

Consciously, of course, I know all those assumptions are bullshit. I wouldn't be where I am if I truly believed they were valid - hell, I'm effectively a housewife right now. My art doesn't bring in any significant income, and however much I hope that will change in the future, right now I live off my husband. And because I'm at home most of the time, I do the laundry, do the dishes, clean the house, all of that typical "women's work".

But the problem, the thing that got me thinking about all this, is that I keep self-sabotaging this work, on an incredibly subtle level - the level of stereotypes, of assumptions that we never admit we make. I work on big organization projects rather than vacuum, or put things away. I mentally whine about the mess, while laboring under this weighty resistance against actually doing anything about it.

When I do truly get into cleaning, believe it or not, I enjoy it - it's peaceful, Zen, quiets the strident, repetitive voices in my head. And while I remind myself of this every chance I get, it hasn't been making much of any headway against that unreasoning resistance. Sure, some of it is ADD, some of it the fact that housework can feel like a never-ending and depressing fight against entropy. But that just didn't fit for the larger picture, what was underneath.


But now that I know it's there, I can begin to break it down.

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