Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Are We Women As Evolved As We Think We Are?

Is Suzie Homemaker a thing of the past?
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, amongst all of the statements of gratitude, reflections, and travel plans that were Facebook'd and tweeted, I noticed a common theme: women announcing what they were cooking, bragging about how they could throw down in the kitchen, and--if you needed proof--posting photos of their heavenly, culinary creations for all to see. Be it teachers, doctors, or lawyers, one thing was clear: these women wanted to remind everyone they could "burn" as well.

Even Oprah--a self-made billionaire, who can change the course of people's lives by uttering one simple phrase--posted photos of herself making sweet potatoes with freshly picked rosemary and cranberry sauce from scratch. That's when it hit me: no matter how evolved we become as women, there is still something in us that wants to let folks know we haven't completely traded in baking pies for boardroom politics. Maybe it's the little voices in our heads--courtesy of "evolved" men--that remind us that gorgeous eyes and pretty smiles will never take the place of a good steak and potato. Or maybe it's simply our homage to our mamas and grandmamas who instilled in us that no matter how far you go or how big you get, you best know how to feed yourself and your family, and not by dialing out for Chinese either.

Oprah "showing off" her cranberry sauce from scratch
That got me to thinking about other areas in which, although we women can sing Beyonce's "Me, Myself, and I" word-for-word, we still need "tradition" to reign in our lives and, in particular, our relationships. One of those areas is in having the man be the head of household. Over the years, women buying their own homes before marriage has become the norm, especially since women are waiting later and later to get married, and have also recognized that the benefits of home ownership are too great to delay or pass up.

I too had the pleasure of stepping out and doing so for myself, by myself at the tender age of 24 (much to the chagrin of my dad, a TRUE traditionalist). I knew at that age, it wouldn't be as quickly applauded by my men friends as it was my girlfriends. But in taking the leap, I already knew what I would need to do when and if I ever got married: MOVE! And not necessarily into his house, but into something new we could build together. Having the man move into a woman's home greatly upsets the balance that not only men need, but that we women need as well (if we're honest) to feel protected and secure in the man's ability to "take care of home," even if we're making six figures. I discovered this in talking to four friends of various races and ages, who moved their husbands into their homes, but aren't feeling satisfied with marriage OR their spouse. For sandwiched between the text of their conversations is a subtext that says, "I don't feel confident in his ability to take care of me." And if you think nothing cools things in the romance department for women like an "unbalanced scale" or "not feeling secure," you're correct.

We can do it, but should we?
And then there are the subtler things for which a man's traditional leadership is appreciated, be it on financial matters and setting the spiritual tone of the house to simpler tasks like washing the car and mowing the lawn. Yes, we women can do them (maybe even simultaneously with our eyes closed), but it doesn't mean we don't prefer the man (traditionally) handles it. Just as there are things men prefer women do as well. For there's always a big difference between what we can do and what we should do, and those things that separate those lists AND celebrate our gender roles should not be forgotten or frowned upon.

Saying all of this to say, we may have evolved on the surface, but deep down inside tradition still brings a certain kind of comfort--and dare I say, "attractiveness"--to both men and women that is needed, as apparent in all of those braggadocios photos posted that screamed, "My sweet potato pie is da bomb!" Yes, we--men and women--can do it all these days (as apparent from a few men who posted their "mean turkey" photos as well), but we both seem to have a desire to remind the other that we recognize the importance of having the foundational basics down too. After all, with 40- and 50-year marriages under their belt, Big Mama and Pop Pop must have known a thing or two and done something right. Let's not forget those things when we're creating our own "recipes" for successful relationships and thus marriages. God made us different for a reason. Let's celebrate that; not try to override it or compete with it. And just in case you're wondering, my Cajun cabbage and collards are to die for. I'll post a pix at Christmas (wink).