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housework over generations

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Liana Walmsley
ENG 1100-CC
September 28th, 2014
Mr. Ross Clarkson
Gender Attitudes towards the Housework Phenomenon- Over Generations
“My second favourite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.” Hearing that it’s my turn to take out the garbage, or my turn to do the dishes makes my eyes roll back into my head as I procrastinate the task given at hand. Everybody hates them, but they have to be done to live a hygienic and orderly lifestyle. From the oxford dictionary, housework is defined as regular work done in housekeeping, especially cleaning and HYPERLINK "http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/tidy#tidy__20"tidying. These cleaning traditions have been around for hundreds of years and continue to this day from the duties of both women and men. Stereotypically, the attitudes towards the two genders are primarily seen as women doing the majority of the work including all inside preparations, as men have the focus to work outside on the hands-on tool associated jobs. Although this stereotype may seem legitimate, it proves to be misleading. Over generations, the housework attitudes to both male and female have changed to create a more balanced and anti-sexist standing from the traditional norm.
To start off, my grandparents were defined as the perfect example to which the lady of the house was known to be the maid whereas the man of the house went to work not contributing to any household chores. My nana did everything from cleaning the dishes, to cooking every meal, to fixing the rooftop and helping the children with their necessities. In the 1960’s, there was a higher percentage of “traditional families” where this occurred. As my grandpa came home from work he expected his meal to be on the table with no excuses and did not have pleasing manners towards the lovingly prepared food. To his perspective, my nana’s occupation was to be his maid. With no ifs or buts, she did what he demanded her to. This put the man much higher on a scale of power from the woman. From 6am-9pm at night, there wouldn’t be a time where my nana put her legs up for a rest because of the work she had to put in for everything to be in an organized fashion for the next day to come. More so, television was starting to become popular back then, and with television came commercials. Advertisements of meal preparations, and cleaning products were always targeted at women. Specifically in the ad, you would see a woman holding a mop or woman on her hands and knees cleaning-never would you see a man in the ad. In society, this was generally portrayed as “women’s work” and that if men were going to work everyday, they did not need to be committing themselves to such “silly tasks” as my grandpa would say. To sum up, in this generation it was an expectation that women were accountable for every task no matter how big or little. It was their responsibility and the man was exempt from anything to do with the dirty work.
To fast forward in time, the generation where my parents became taken in with chores was when there was seen to be a noticeable change. As my mother was employed as an ESL teacher and my father was associated with the law firm both were busy from morning until dinnertime. With having two full-time employed parents, this changed the housework approach. With cooking, they contributed to a system. Everyday one would cook, alternating each day, performing an equal amount of time preparing and serving. With more of a typical Canadian style home, my father would work on the outside assignments, but he would also devote his time to washing dishes and folding clothes. He told me that he actually enjoyed cleaning the silverware because it gave him time to ponder life and relax. To contrast, my mother had Sundays off which is when my father did everything needed in the house for the week ahead, showing that my father’s attitude is quite strong in the housework field by participating whenever he could. Surveying both sets of generations, I found that my parents were less stressed about what had to be done around the house rather than my grandparents as only one person had all the duties. This means that having a more equal relationship towards dividing chores provides a more stable environment for both parents, as no gender is any more superior to the other. My parents said that their generation focused on “many hands made light work.”
Lastly, in this day my generation is said to be the most stable comparing the chores to my twin brother and myself. As we attend school, have jobs, and participate in extra-curricular activities, my parents still set out a list of chores to be done for the day. Our tasks are not based on a feminine versus masculine scheme as we contribute it anything assigned. The stereotype of a male being stronger does not account for anything because I am usually the one assigned to picking up and moving heavy objects. Furthermore, my brother does the sweeping, dishes, and he loves cooking so he does that for the enjoyment in himself and the family. From what we have grown up with, we as siblings do not think of housework as a women’s job. By having a twin, I have realized I have been raised and socialized in a few different ways then him, but when it comes to housework we are quite the same-nothing separates us. With today’s generation, the realization that stereotypes do not matter as much gives more balance in the eyes of reality with gender and housework roles.
To conclude, as the generations pass by, there is a difference in the way men and women work together to develop a balanced household ethic. At the start, there was a very unbalanced role of the traditional housewife as men were seen to be at the office or reading the paper. As the generations passed the amount of time a women spent working outside of the house had an impact on how much she could put forth. In today’s time, even though some people still view the women as the maid of the house, it has become a lot more equal through being anti-sexist about what work belongs to what gender. The tradition of housework is not forgotten, just altered. I hope this equalization remains constant through generations to come to show that men and women do not control one another; they have the same skills, talents, and strengths/weaknesses. Anyone can do housework, no matter what lies between two genders. It may not be any easy job, but both sexes are able, can, and will do it. People do not decide to change; it is society that makes an impact on each generation.
Works Cited
"Definition of Housework in English:." Housework: Definition of Housework in Oxford Dictionary (British & World English). N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.
"Housework Quotes & Sayings (Chores, Cleaning, Yard Work, Etc)." Housework Quotes & Sayings (Chores, Cleaning, Yard Work, Etc). N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.

Cited: "Definition of Housework in English:." Housework: Definition of Housework in Oxford Dictionary (British & World English). N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2014. "Housework Quotes & Sayings (Chores, Cleaning, Yard Work, Etc)." Housework Quotes & Sayings (Chores, Cleaning, Yard Work, Etc). N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.

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