I’m your Girlfriend, not your Maid!: Violating a Gender Norm By Sasha Sanders
My boyfriend is Puerto Rican, and when we first began our relationship things were done with mutual understanding, however, now that I spend a lot of time staying at his house, with him and his mom, I’ve realized that he expects that I will accommodate to this socialized role of woman: the “house wife”. We would constantly argue about why he feels that I should always cook for him, make his plate, wash his clothes, and ultimately tend to his every nurturing need.
So, my violation of a gendered role consisted of deciding not to cook, clean, or perform that “role” he ‘assumes’ of me. This ultimately forced me to separate myself from him physically, until I felt that he understood that if I did things for him, it was only because I care for him and expect the same in return, not because I felt that it was what I am supposed to do as a woman.
For the entire weekend while I stayed at his house, I refused to cook, clean, or help him get ready for work, as I usually do. Instead, I just played video games and unfortunately argued with him about my unconventional behavior, but that was expected.
The goal of my violation was to gain liberation from the socialized roles that he expects of me, an to also inspire liberation for his mom. This is because I began to realize that because of the common custom of Hispanic woman (and woman as a whole), my boyfriend was so used to women behaving this way, without any rejections to their roles.
I wanted to inspire liberation to his mother, who strongly believed that it was a woman’s duty to take care of a man. Her views were due to the fact that she has been brainwashed into believing that without a woman helping man to live comfortably, a man cannot provide for his family. I also realized, that this wasn’t the first boyfriend I had, whereas I was assumed to perform this “domestic role” of a woman, so this act was done in order to liberate myself from accepting that role.
I believe that attempting to violate socialized gender-norms is one of many ways that women can begin to separate themselves from the roles expected of them. Of course men will rebel to this behavior as my boyfriend did, but I do believe that my actions helped him to see how foolish his thoughts were, and are.
Unfortunately for my boyfriend, now his mom doesn’t want to cook or clean for him anymore as well, so I guess I did help her gain some liberty as well. I believe that my violation was successful because I did something that is strictly forbidden by patriarchal society, so I must have done something right.