Domesticity Has No Gender

When we talk about “domesticity” there is a general cultural assumption that we’re talking about women. Obviously, the home has been the female domain for much of history. However, I think home is for everybody.

It is never my assumption that cooking, crafting, vintage fashion, or entertaining are just for women. There is room for everyone at my house.

With women now an accepted part of the workforce, men doing housework isn’t the unheard of idea it used to be. But, I would argue, ours is still a culture that is highly invested in policing masculinity and femininity, and that is mostly unprepared to address those who travel between those borders. Just take a look at the commercials on television, and you’ll start to notice just how much comedy hinges on the assumption that husbands are domestic idiots. Home, and the things that happen in it, is still very gendered in the popular imagination.

Studies have suggested that women still do the majority of housework, though men are certainly doing more than they used to. Of course, these studies still divide the human population into a very strict gender binary, which certainly doesn’t include everybody.

Domesticity is what you make of it. My (male) partner is a much better homemaker than I am. If we were the only people living in a society, sociologists would conclude that the male role is to keep the home in order, and the female role is to make things and proposition the male. He keeps on top of laundry, is an organizational whirlwind, and actively thinks of new ways to clean things. He notices clutter, which my eyes tend to bounce over. On the other hand, I freak out a little if the pantry couldn’t keep us through a Laura Ingalls Wilder-style winter. I suffer from the deluded belief that given enough time and semi-appropriate tools, I could figure out how to make anything.None of this has to do with gender. All of this has to do with the people we are, our strengths and what we enjoy.

I think it helps if we think of homemaking as a field that was pioneered by women. Just like other professions and fields were lead by men in the beginning, because they were the only people who were allowed to, the activities of daily life in a home didn’t used to hire men.  And now that we’ve opened up gender roles a little, I can be a physicist and my boyfriend can be a top-notch ironer, or whatever floats our individual and collective boats.

So Retrofitting Vintage isn’t for women or men. It’s for people of all genders or lack of gender, who value home.

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