You know my saying about any ‘domestic violence expert’ should be mandated to live in a trailer park for a year before they can hang up a shingle? I’m rapidly approaching the idea that anyone who wants to claim to be an expert about gender roles needs to be forced to work manual labor for a year.
I’m not talking lawn care, I mean construction, roofing, logging, trash truck and furniture moving kind of jobs. There’s a reason why. Technology.
It doesn’t take that much muscle to ride a commercial mower or even run a backhoe. I know a number of women who do long distance trucking. When they roll up to the docks, unloading is all done by forklifts. One of the big reasons women could go into the factories during WWII was much of the heavy work had been automated. But even that was a step forward from what there had been before the industrial revolution.
What I’m saying is much of what we think of as gender roles were in fact division of labor. Labor that had to be done by the people right there whether you were paid for it or not. Modern people have no idea how work intensive everything was back then.
Technology literally got women out of the kitchen because tasks that would have taken a person a half hour could be done by pushing a button and — if not walking away — five minutes. I’m not even talking washing machines, I mean electric mixers. Same goes for technology getting women out of the house. Objects that had been extremely time and labor intensive could be purchased at reduced prices because of manufacturing. How long do you think it takes to spin the thread, weave material and then make clothes? Here’s a hint, a 4×6 Navajo rug takes about 2 to 3 months — for an average weave. Fine takes 5 to 6. Now think about how many blankets there are in a family home.
Oh hey and did you know that baby formula wasn’t INVENTED until 1865? And it was created in Germany. It took a little while to get over here. Although feeding devices have been found, the number one alternative to a mother was for over 200,000 years a wet nurse (another lactating woman). Real useful if mom didn’t survive childbirth — which given medicine of the time… Animal milk just doesn’t do so well for human babies without the additional stuff Justus von Liebig figured out. 1865, not that long ago.
Here’s the important point, EVERYBODY worked. Maybe not everyone got paid, but unless you were an infant/toddler or an invalid, you contributed to the labor and resources of the family/group/tribe. Even doddering elders watched over the babies while younger women did other tasks.
I’ve worked in hard labor fields and they are mostly done by men because women simply don’t have the strength and endurance. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a metricfuck ton of other jobs needing to be done. Even in labor environments where there are women, there isn’t ‘equality’ in division of labor. While the women are working as much as men they typically do less strenuous jobs and jobs that require less muscle. (For the record, you see the same division between big men and smaller men on crews.) Here’s a surprise, in ranching and farming there are peak periods where there is all kinds of work that has to be done in a certain time frame. Yes, the women are out there too. But you’ll usually see this same division of labor. By default, there are strength requiring jobs the men do. While women do other — equally important — jobs.
When a modern person thinks of ‘jobs’ they think being paid. Historically many situations didn’t ‘pay’ regularly, you didn’t get paid off until you got crops to market, the ship arrived in port or livestock was sold. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a whole lot of other work to be done.
Take for example the movie “Witness” there is a community barn raising. Yep, men are swinging hammers and sawing. But guess what? There’s no pizza delivery, no jump into the car and drive to town for lunch. The women are working just as hard setting up, preparing food and wrangling kids. Then after lunch, packing it all up. Nobody got ‘paid’ but everyone worked — including the young. That’s what life was before technology. Hell, killing a chicken for dinner was considered a child’s job. It had to be done if you wanted to eat.
Thing is, this is how things were for 200,000 years of human history. We constantly worked… we had to in order to survive. Similar gender roles developed around the world as a result of the lack of technology and some very serious limitations. (Here’s something to consider, horseback riding while pregnant is even to this day strongly not recommended — it’s a high risk to both mother and baby.) Under those conditions, they are the absolute best chance for the women and children to survive.
Those rules were slow in developing and, yet, they are a lot faster changing . Not as fast as technology, but for human behavior, amazingly fast. But having said that…
What do you think all this technology has done to our consciousness?
Not our knowledge, our consciousness. It’s a simple question, but when you start looking you discover all kinds of things that don’t have simple answers — including gender roles.