As a lesbian, it is always an interesting experience to join a conversation on changing gender roles and the future of the role of men. Quite reliably, these conversations usually only occur with straight female friends who are somewhere in their 30s. Men have never brought this topic up to me, and older and younger women seem to have figured out alternate ways of making peace with the subject. And if someone in the LGBT community starts talking about changing gender roles, well, it’s usually a whole different conversation!
Despite how much I have in common with many of my 30-something straight lady friends, these conversations always leave me feeling a bit bewildered and a bit like an anthropologist. An on-going joke of mine is that someday I will publish a book entitled The Mating Habits of Straights, because I find the topic somewhat fascinating and just incredibly foreign from my own experience.
Now, mind you, we LGBT folks obviously also get into relationships that we talk about with our friends. My LGBT friends and I talk about partnership dynamics, planning around children and now, increasingly, marriage ceremonies or other forms of relationship commitments. But we exist in a world where these conversations happen outside of some societal weight or expectation of norms around supposed “gender dynamics.”
With the rates of LGBT youth suicide and the on-going legal discrimination against my community, the general consensus could be that in many ways our lives are harder than the lives of straight people. And while that is in part true, talking to straight friends about gendered relationship dynamics always make me send God a mental thank you note for making me gay. (Yes, I was, in fact, born this way!)
No one ever told me to wait for a Prince Charming to arrive on a white horse. I didn’t grow up with pre-set roles and societal expectations around how my relationships would function. I’ve never felt the need to discuss with a partner how we need to divide housework and childcare as life-long, equally-shared responsibilities. Whether a partner or I ever acted in a pre-outlined, supposedly-expected “gender role” has always been one of the farthest things from my mind.
In large part these conversations with my straight friends perplex me because I exist in a world composed of diverse maps outlining equal relationships without abstract gendered expectations. Try telling two gay dads that they’re simply not gendered appropriately to bear the brunt of raising children. Or watch how two lesbians have always had their own equal careers, with no pre-set notion that one career would indefinitely be more important than the other after they have children. Additionally, as a lesbian, the concept of “having children” has never necessarily meant I would be the one to give birth, or that adoption isn’t a 100% equal alternative to choose.
When reading articles debating the supposed “End of Men,” or the supposed lack of the “End of Men,” they often seem very huffy, as if dramatic prophetic declarations are required to even talk about the subject.
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