The Life of Bon: Can a woman take out the trash?!?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Can a woman take out the trash?!?

Today I pulled into the parking lot after a hideously boring day of district meetings, shifted that black Corolla into park, and sat quietly for a minute while I listened to the end of We are Young on the radio.

I was also enjoying a spot of sunshine, feeling it sink into my body and warm my skin.  I love everything about spring, the flowers, the light, the rain, the freedom, but I have to admit, getting into a warm car tops the list.  Not cold, not icy, not covered in snow, but warm.
That is when I know it's spring.

While I was sitting in my car, feeling young and free, I witnessed two things almost simultaneously that were very strange to me. 

Thing #1:  A man walked to the mailbox, inserted the little key, twisted it, gathered an assortment of bills, ads, and letters, and then walked back to his apartment.
I was shocked. I sat for a moment just to take it all in.  It was time to ask myself some serious questions.  Questions that include, "Since when has a man ever gotten the mail?  How does that man even known where the mail key is? Or how to use it? Or where the mailbox is!?!?!"  You can imagine my complete confusion, right?

You see, here's the deal. In our married life I have gotten the mail a total of 87 times and Hubs has gotten the mail a total of 0 times.  End of story.  Picking up the mail is my job.  I have never even thought that Hubs would do it. 

While still left reeling in the shock of a man getting the mail, I was eyewitness to YET ANOTHER strange occurrence.

Thing #2:   A woman walk to the dumpster and heaved a big bag of garbage up and over, landing successfully at its destination with an emphatic THUD.
My mind had been blown and I needed a moment just to reflect. So, I listened to another song and enjoyed the sunshine through the glass for a minute longer. 

This poor girl, taking out the trash by herself.  What kind of husband has the wife carry the trash?  Surely that's a man's job! There is no circumstance, no scenario where a woman should be dirtying her hands carrying out trash.  Right?  RIGHT?!?!  RIGHT?!?!?!

Then I heard a little voice asking me,  "Bonnie, where did you learn that women get mail and men take out the trash?"  And I didn't know the answer.

So I thought some more.  And I think I may have come up with an answer.

I blame:
the way I was raised,
our culture,
and the rules that society inflicts upon us.
(Second time reading this I realize what I meant to say is "Instills in" but I like "inflicts upon" better.  Sounds more menacing, don't you think?)

Good enough?

I realize that I have instilled in me a very strong set of gender roles, as much as I would like to not admit it.  There are certain things I always do, certain things Hubs always do, and a host of chores we share.

Grocery shopping
Paying bills
Complaining to restaurants when we get bad service
Keeping up on maintenance for cars, apartment, etc.
Getting the mail

Taking out the trash
Scrubbing the bathtub
Moving the couches together so we can snuggle in front of the couch.
Driving whenever we go somewhere together

Making the bed (although it is usually Hubs since I wake earlier.  HA! Who's the lucky one now?!?)

He's sensitive to smells.
You can sympathize, can't you?

Most of my rationale behind these I can trace back to my parents.  For example, I never once saw my dad get the mail.  Or make the bed.  And it was a cold day in July when he washed a dish.  Dad always drove when my parents went anywhere together and my mom was in charge of paying the bills.

My mom, on the other hand, didn't have to worry about chopping wood, building fires, gardening, or fixing the cars.  Those were my dad's chores.  He occasionally helped with cooking, like Hubs does, but the responsibility fell mostly in my mom's lap.

I never did see my dad push a vacuum.

As far as the trash goes?  Well, my mom made us kids do that.  (Obviously.  What else would you have eight kids for?)

So why would Hubs have picked that habit up if in my family neither my mom or dad was in charge of the trash?  I thought back to the numerous times that I have stayed with Hubs' parents.  Hubs' pop is almost religious about taking the trash out.  Every night he grabs that bag, empties it of every last potato peel and diet coke can, and leaves a fresh wastebasket.  Hubs has obviously seen this and subconsciously picked up the idea that the garbage is a man's job.

I'll take it!  If that boy wants to take the trash out for the rest of his life, he ain't gonna receive no protests from me.

Naturally, I am curious as to how other households work.  Did your home have specific gender roles?  Are there certain chores now that you always do or that your husband always does?  And should we strive to undo these "gender chores" with our own children?

And my, my, my what a fascinating and awful world we live in where we all must do chores, don't you agree?


  1. Oooh, super interesting post!

    First of all, my husband also wears a makeshift mask to do the smellier dishes. Lol.

    I think most of the chores around here are based less on gender and more on the fact that Kyle hates doing some things less than I do and vice versa.

    I do pretty much all the cooking, decorating, organizing, bill paying, grocery shopping, and floor scrubbing.

    Kyle does most of the dishes (although we trade off sometimes), takes out the trash, and most of the laundry.

    We usually split up whatever's left. And because our mailbox is down the road, we like to get the mail together and make it a little evening walk with the dog.

    When I was growing up, my brother and I did almost all of the chores between the two of us but things like mowing the lawn usually went to him. Which was too bad because I LOVE to mow the lawn! I don't think there's any hard and fast rule about who is supposed to what - every family has to come up with their own system. I think it's great that couples find ways to help each other out, no matter what.

  2. Eight siblings!? Jeez I can barely handle two. I agree that its a strange to think about all the things I think I need to do verses men. Definitly something to think about.

  3. Wait.....your husband does chores?

    Um, I think I might need to have a chat with my husband tonight.

  4. Very interesting post! It's always interesting to see how other people structure things like chores. I'm not married and my roommate moved out last year (for some reason, she wanted to live with her husband, ha!), so I've been by myself. Leaving every. chore. to. me. Bah! No fun.

    It IS interesting though. Growing up, my parents always shared on the cooking. Either they cooked together or just kind of alternated days. They were both GREAT cooks.. one was just better at cooking certain thing than they other, and that's what decided who cooked that night.

    My dad always took out the trash (because it had to be hauled to the dump. gross). But I had never realized until just now that I had NEVER EVER seen him vaccuum. Weird.
    He washed dishes/cleaned the kitchen/swept/whatever it was that he felt NEEDED to be done if the time came. But he never vaccuumed. Crazy.

  5. My chores:
    Feed Olivia
    Grocery shop/Cook (Adam would be happy to help shop, but he doesn't know what to buy since he doesn't cook)
    Bathe Olivia

    Adam's chores:
    Take out the trash (you are so right, its a boys job!!)
    Organize the kitchen, bedroom, closets, everything (I do not like this because I can never find my stuff. Only the cook should get to organize the kitchen, am I right???)
    Play with Olivia (that's what dads are good at, the rolling on the floor play time)
    Anything I didn't get done before I go to bed (putting the food away, washing bottles for the morning, etc)
    Sweep and mop floors

    Making the bed

  6. I love reviewing our daily chores:

    Corey - trash, mail, vacuum, dishes, cook, pick up after me, feed dog

    Me - make bed, catch up on celebrity gossip

    It's slightly skewed, but to his advantage....we have one AWESOME vacuum cleaner.

  7. My husband loves to get the mail. And I almost always take the trash out. I guess we break the social norms. My husband and I also have a list of things we each do but kids have muddled that up a bit.

  8. great post! Love it! It is super einteresting how different chores go on! My husband and I have very different views on chores, he was an only child raised by a single mom, a single mom who loved her child so much and did everything for him. Including laundry, until he was 25 years old and his fiance offered to do it for her as a Christmas present (ahem, me) :)

    I grew up with a dad who does the trash, cleans the yard, takes care of the cars, gets the mail. My mom cooks and cleans and does the laundry.

    hubby and i get in an argument about once a year,regarding chores and then we rearrange our chores, each time. :)

  9. oh forgot to mention, newest follower! :)

  10. Totally! I think about this often too, because we never sat down and discussed it it just sort of happened (though now that we have been married 4 years, we def discuss somethings aka me naggin if he has done his stuff yet haha!)
    The roles though have changed through our relationship depending on our jobs ect. Like when I was a full time student and no job when we were first married and he was the breadwinner (was in the marines) I was sure that he didnt have to do any of the house stuff or pay bills, I saw that as me "paying my rent" haha! But once I started working and after a few months of doing all the house stuff and working that is when roles started changing too! Though when he started working 60-90 hours per week roles went back to the original of me doing most of the housework, but since he had "Learned" and become used to doing some he still continued to do some of them, such as take out the trash (which he ALWAYS did, I am with you, its a mans job, even growing up us kids didnt do it though) pay half the bills (I pay the big ones that if they are late we are in trouble, cause I am not certain he pays the water bill on time each month but not too scared of that one but mortgage ya I better take that one) he starts the laundry (his work clothes get dirty faster then mine so he notices the need first) and switches the loads. The cooking and majority of cleaning and dishes is my side of things, though when work slows down for him I am not afraid to ask for a hand in bathroom scrubbing or cleaning that is for sure haha!

  11. This is really funny, because in Women Studies we talk about this all the time! I grew up in a home where my DAD stayed at home, and my mom went to work. My dad did part-time handy man things around our small town for extra money while we were at school. My mom and dad both shared the responsibility of dinner, trash, getting the mail, etc. Except the kids did the dishes ;) Every half a year, my parents would switch who did the bills & laundry. I like it that way, because there WERE no gender roles in my family. :)

  12. OMG!! Best post ever lol
    We totally have our own "roles" in the house

    Me: my own laundry, puppy duty most often, bathroom duty (boo!), cooking

    Double Duty: dishes, floors, puppy duty, grocery shopping

    The hubs: his own laundry, floors (more often than not!), yard, fixing up, painting, anything that involves a screwdriver, trash, baby sitting me, bills

    Yeah I totally win on this lol

    -Meesh :)

  13. I love this! I am going to read it to my boyfriend over the phone tonight. I always worry about being married because what if I have unrealistic expectations for how we divide up the chores? It sounds like you have it all down perfectly, though. Is this a conversation you had before you got married? Did you know they would be divided up like this I like it!

  14. My hubby and i have definitely very quickly establish roles in our marriage. I cook and do laundry, get the mail, do most (98%) of the cleaning, do dishes most of the time; he does take out the trash and drives everywhere we go and takes care of anything car. There is not much besides making the bed that we switch off. I am totally going to convince him that he has got to start doing more chores my goodness it sounds like we would fit right in the 50's. Just call me june cleaver with heels and pearls

  15. woa, we must be a weird couple. I cook, he cleans up after dinner. I clean inside the house, he cleans outside. I shop because I find the good deals. He usually takes out the trash unless its full and he's not home, then I just take it out! I do my laundry and he does his. Oh, and I don't think I've ever once gotten the mail! Crazy how different families run.

  16. your posts are so entertaining! have to admit though, i take out the trash AND the recycling, clean the bathroom and do the sweeping...whereas the boy makes the bed, checks the mail and does most of the laundry. never really sat down to think of the differences, but it's quiet interesting :)