The Problem with the Holidays and Gender Roles

Ever since we were young, my mother has worked to instill ideals of gender equality in me and my brothers. She has constantly told me that it is not my job to take care of and clean up after my brothers, and she has made my brothers do those things for themselves. Both of my parents hold full-time jobs, share household chores and take care of us children equally. My entire life, I have been taught that it is not my job to take care of the men in my family. Why, then, do I always end up doing just that during the holiday season?

The day before Thanksgiving, my first day on break from school, I found myself and my mother cleaning the entire house to prepare for our guests the following day. Meanwhile, my brothers were laying on the couches, oblivious to the two women in their family cleaning for the holiday. In order to get them to actually help us, my mother had to write down instructions on how to clean the bathroom, something that feels as if it comes naturally to me. Even when she had written out how to clean the bathroom, they still didn’t clean it the way myself or my mother would have cleaned it. They cleaned it with the attitude that they shouldn’t have to do that job, that it was ours, as women, to do.

Even in 2017, the media still represents women as the homemakers. Sure, they hold jobs, are posed as powerful and independent, but they are still seen cooking, cleaning and planning for family holiday events. At Thanksgiving, the women are the ones who cook in the kitchen while the men lazily sit and watch football. During the Christmas season, the women in the family are the ones who have to stress and worry the most about getting gifts for the children and the family. I find myself watching my mother become more and more stressed because of the extra responsibilities she is burdened with as the holidays grow closer.

The fact that this gender role disparity is so painfully evident during the holiday season proves that it still exists for the other ten months out of the year. In order to bridge this gap, we must instill better gender equality ideals in our family members and friends. Everyone must do this, not just women teaching men. It is not a woman’s job to clean up after you, to cook for you or to teach you take care of yourself. If anything, that job is yours.

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