…because I am awake at ridiculous o’clock (thank you, abrupt weather changes, for these fantastic joint aches and this fabulous itch-behind-the-eyes headache-ish thing that cancelled my sleep after only two hours)
AND I’m behind on blogging, so here I am, filling time and space.
Random thing the first: a realization about genderthink
It all started way back when I read Anne Leckie’s Imperial Radch series. It blew my mind in several ways, all excellent and glorious. The biggest impression it left was the foundational nature of gendering assumptions. It was HARD wrapping my brain around the default pronoun being she/her. Such a simple concept was far more difficult to process than I anticipated. WORTH IT, though. Such a good book.
The read cut and polished new facets into my worldview.
Most of my life, when I saw an identifier like, “his cousin,” in a book I was reading, I would assume that cousin was male until given a name or other information that indicated otherwise. And to be honest, if it was a side character, or a bit player, no such information would ever be offered. So in my mind, all the random NPCs in fiction ended up being male by default.
That doesn’t happen any more. In the last few years my default assumption has changed to female. I noticed this reading something today where cousins were referenced several times before being gendered. Learning they were boys jarred me right out of the narrative. I had just assumed…a completely opposite assumption than in the past.
A lot of terms do not require or include gender (like cousin, or manager, accountant, neighbor or staffer versus aunt or uncle, ) There’s zero reason to default to a male identity other than cultural expectations. And expectations can change.
I’ve got no conclusion here, it’s just a thing I noticed.
Random idea the second: why isn’t mothering a job?
What would the world be like if we treated mothering as an activity rather than a gender-chained identity? I fear I’m missing some huge meaningful Spiritual aspect of Motherhood or inadvertently insulting millions by asking that question, but there it is.
There’s a lot of mystical, magical malarkey associated with being “A MOM” that seems to only apply when the job is done by a FEMALE presenting person. And I don’t think perpetuating those ideas is good or healthy for anyone with a mothering gig.
Maybe I’m missing something here, but mothering is a set of definable actions.** Mothering is a thing one does. It doesn’t even entirely require a child, although I would submit that is the prime example of it. Strip away the cultural gender baggage, and the whole thing gets much simpler and healthier.
So I’m amusing myself picturing a world where Mother or Mom is a just a job title meaning “person or persons whose social role is primary child nurturer.” This also creates an opening for Father/Dad to be an action-defined role too. Maybe it becomes the term for the secondary nurturer or nurturers–the one or ones who nurture the primary child nurturer, for example, or contribute to the social unit in other ways.
(I’ll leave details to someone more clever and well-rested than I feel right now.)
This random thought was sparked by reading an article on “stay at home dads” and the different expectations placed on them, and thinking to myself, hang on, how much of this whole problem is the labeling? If their primary job is taking care of the kids, the meals, the wash, the home finances, the scheduling and so on, then they’re doing the mom job, so why aren’t they stay-at-home-moms?
And I suspect the answer is, “That would make too many people feel unmanly.” Which kinda indicates there’s gender-baggage, and that’s why it tickles my imagination to ponder a world where a dude proudly calls himself Mom, and a woman answers to Dad.
Totally random stuff. And that’s all there is, so I’ll wrap it here. G’night. Or good morning. Whatever.
**Yes, any activity or job can also be an identity, but the dangerous nature of tying identity to specific work is a topic for a whole ‘nother post.
2 responses to “Two random thoughts”
The Imperial Radch books are awesome. So much to think about that I have read them several times. I didn’t catch the default gender thing so I have something to look for the next reread.
Parenting is the job. Dads don’t ‘babysit’ any more than moms do. They take care of their kids. Both moms and dads perform the parenting job. Different people have different strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the differences between strengths and stereotypes must be intentional for all parents. Hopefully, we can get to “stay-at-home parent” as the terminology and make it ok for both genders to do it. Unfortunately, single parents don’t get that luxury.
Hope you can catch up on your sleep…
the change in my mental default for gender is something I noticed as I was reading other books — long after finishing the Imperial Radch books. And I noticed it in conversations too, on those occasions where the context failed to provide cues.
And strong agree that parenting is the best umbrella job title and that intentionality and awareness are absolutely KEY!