My first steps towards becoming an independent woman

Editor’s Note: This post was written by a graduate student in the Spring 2009 Feminist Theory class in The University of Akron’s Women’s Studies Program. To read more student posts, click here.

sharing-housework1This year I am trying to accomplish something new. I do not usually try to accomplish specific things or make short-term goals for myself. However, it is in my best interests to try to accomplish this task. This task is cooking.

I am a stranger to the world of pots, pans, griddles and ovens. I have been living on my own for the last year and a half, and have relied, most of the time, on cold food and frozen dinners.

My parents used to supply me with the frozen dinners, but I am currently not on good terms with my parents, and therefore they have not been giving me frozen dinners any more. So I decided to learn to cook, instead of buying expensive prepackaged frozen dinners.

Therefore, my quest to become a cook/chef started. First off, I had to go grocery shopping. Then I had to learn how to use the oven, and this was difficult to learn since touching and using the oven are two of my phobias. Next I attempted to bake a few different types of food.

Currently, I am taking baby steps and am also trying to use the stove more to cook the food. Also, since I am spending more time in my apartment, it needs to be cleaned more often. Also, I have to do laundry a lot more often.

Doing laundry has been a completely new experience for me, since I only started doing my own laundry very recently. I always used to bring my laundry to my parents’ house,and they had always done my laundry.

But since I am not on good terms with my parents right now, I do not visit home very often. So far, doing my own laundry has not been difficult, whereas cooking has been more of a challenge.

When learning how to cook and do laundry, I started thinking about the role of a stay-at- home wife and/or mother. I thought about all the time and commitment such women put into cleaning, doing laundry and cooking for their families and themselves. I wonder what these women think about their roles and tasks in life and if they are happy and content with always maintaining a clean home and putting food on the table.

Through my own experiences, I was surprised that I actually enjoyed doing laundry and attempting to learn how to cook. As a young woman learning how to accomplish tasks in the “private sphere” of life, I did not feel forced to fulfill the roles of being a woman cook or housecleaner. I felt that I was performing a gender neutral task that a married couple, both the man and woman should be both obligated to do.

After performing these tasks, I do not understand why women have been obligated to perform these tasks, or to work only in the “private sphere” of the home. From my first experiences, I believe that both women and men should learn how to perform these household tasks, and that married couples should split up these tasks equally, based on preference, and/or based on who is simply home more to complete the housework.

I believe that neither a man nor woman should be forced to do the housework or made to feel worthless like a spouse’s maid or servant; yet many couples are forced to take on the housework among themselves, and “traditionally” the wife seems to take on more of the household responsibilities.

I believe that a couple should first discuss who will do which household chores when moving in with one another, instead of the couple just assuming that the woman will take on the “feminine” indoor housework, while the man works outside the home.

The idea that couples can share the housework may send gender neutral messages to a couple’s children. This is important for future generations so they do not depend on gender identity to shape an individual and the individual’s role in society.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with being a woman and doing housework. However, a woman shouldn’t feel obligated to fulfill certain roles during her lifetime, whether it be those of a housewife, a mother, caregiver, or even a career woman.


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