Gender Women Studies 101 Paper

By definition, cleaning is the act of making something free of dirt, marks, or of a mess. With women, it is expected for them to know how to clean. Clean dishes, clean clothes, clean themselves; The idea of cleanliness or keeping everything clean falls under the female gender norms. Going as far as preschool, little girls were taught to clean. Girls would have kitchen play-sets where they would have all these pots and pans and food and pretend to use them, and wash them, and put them away. Some girls had baby dolls where they would take care of this fake baby like changing its dirty diaper, or wiping their mouths if there was a “spill”. Even as these little girls grew up to become teens, parents would encourage their daughters to clean the house or help out their mother to keep it maintained. It was expected for a young girl to learn how to clean from her mother so she would also be a good mother in the future. If they didn’t, parents would scold their daughters saying how they were so lazy and needed to contribute to the house maintenance. When these girls become women and start their own families, these women who are now mothers are put to the test. These women are expected to clean up after their children, clean up the house, even clean up after their husbands. If a woman is working, and becomes pregnant, they have maternity leave for when they have the baby. With the mother being home with the baby, and the husband is at work, the household duties fall under the mother’s job description. With them being home majority of the time, it is expected for them to have the house clean and organized by the time the husband comes home.

Now with boys, the situation isn’t the same. At a young age, boys are encouraged to get down and dirty. Boys are expected to worry about keeping things in order. Boys are supposed to worry about how many worms they can stick up their nose or who can build the biggest tower. When it comes to cleaning, boys are given cleaning tasks as if it were a punishment. For example, a parent grounds his son for a month for doing something they weren’t suppose to do and their punishment was washing the dishes, or cleaning the bathroom once a week. The more chores the boy did, the more in trouble he really was. The less cleaning they had to do, the more off the hook they were. However, when it comes to taking out the trash, that is always the boy’s job. Based off personal experience, I have seen three families, including my own, where the man takes the trash out every time. My dad always takes out the trash. My friend’s brother always empties the trash in the house. My boyfriend takes the trash out every week in his house. Of all the cleaning tasks, discarding trash is identified as a gender norm for men, but anything else is for women. I guess trash exceeds dirty level borders, and cross to the men’s department.    

With this gender coding of behavior, men and women develop these ideas of what kind of person they are suppose to become. For women, this idea of continuously cleaning up after everyone will make them seem themselves as secondary beings. Women will never think to put themselves first. They must always sacrifice their time and effort to make others look good. Women will never think their work is to be acknowledged as an accomplishment because their labor is expected of them. Women won’t think about the goals they can accomplish outside their home. Soon, women will come to the fact that once they have a home and children, their lives that peaked and that’s it for them.  These kind of social rules allow men to think they are above the hard work. They don’t need to be put in extra effort in their home life because that is what their wife is suppose to do. Men will continue to expand their belief to the point where they will believe that a woman’s job is to clean up their mess, regardless of what it is and a man can go about and conquer any obstacles they are up against. For those who break these rules and go against the grain, they are making big steps in the right direction. Those stay at home dads show society how they too can work behind the scenes and be supportive. They’ll show how men don’t always have to be tough and front and certain; they can put in the hours and not expect any acknowledgement from their spouse. Those women who go on to have careers and exceed the expectations of others are the signs of hope that other people need. It gives people an opportunity to show them how to be the person they want to be, instead of the person they were told to be.