19 February 2007

Womens' Work

I work at a university. (I'm working on a post that describes what I do and why I remain anonymous.) We get a lot of support from work scholars, who are lifesavers most of the time. Every year, we do a student worker appreciation lunch toward the end of the year.

It's actually a really nice event, and the students are given lots of attention and really appreciate the effort. Besides, what college student doesn't just love free food? Anyway, we get most of it catered by a local chicken joint and campus dining services. But the professional staff are asked to bring in extra side dishes and the dessert, to add a personal touch.

I'm all for potluck events, and think they're way more fun than catered events, and I really do enjoy putting something together and sharing it with friends. But one thing I've noticed is that only the women bring dishes in. I've never seen any of the men bring in a dish. I think that this sort of thing is just completely off the radar for them, because they almost never have to worry about cooking or feeding other people.

This year, I'm going to refuse to bring anything in. Not because I don't care about the students. But as a statement that I will not bend to archaic gender roles that dictate that, even though a woman is a successful professional (or, hell, a worker of any kind), she is still expected to play the wife-mother role at work. This is something that I've tried to be conscious about, and let me tell you, it's hard when your first reaction is to say "Yes!" and be a nurturer when you really just don't feel like it.

Some will think that my Bell's Palsy is the reason for my not contributing to the potluck, and if they don't ask, that's fine. But for those who do ask, I'll tell the truth, that I refuse to be viewed in the patriarchal conscription of wife-mother. Maybe it'll spark a little conversation and thought. And maybe some of my male coworkers will go home, do the dishes, and give their wives a break.

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