The gender meme

Cross-posted at What We Said

It’s about time that I do Mandarine’s meme; it’s been on my mind for quite a while, but I haven’t been entirely sure I’d have answers to all the categories — I’m still not sure. But I’ve had a couple of conversations with the Hobgoblin lately about some stuff related to gender, specifically, about hearing a LOT of talk at parties and around work about home decoration and repair, a topic that provokes eye-rolling and sighs of boredom from me, and then makes me feel inadequate for not caring a whole lot what my house looks like. I mean, I’m supposed to, aren’t I? Caring about home decoration is part of being a good American consumer and part of being acceptably feminine, isn’t it? Anyway, here’s my attempt:

  • Three things you do that women usually do:
    1. Shave my legs (although I prefer to think I do this because I’m a cyclist, not because I’m a woman. Since, as a cyclist, the Hobgoblin shaves his legs, wouldn’t it be funny if I didn’t? We’d really be messing with gender stereotypes then);
    2. Try to take care of other people’s emotional needs;
    3. Enjoy nice long conversations about feelings.
  • Three things you do that men usually do:
    1. Compete in athletic events;
    2. Feel uncomfortable and out of place in a kitchen;
    3. Pride myself on my big muscles.
  • Three things you do that women usually don’t do:
    1. Let the dishes pile up in the sink without feeling guilty;
    2. Eat a ton without feeling self-conscious about it;
    3. Be willing to get dirty and sweaty on a backpacking trip without thinking about it too much.
  • Three things you do that men usually don’t do:
    1. Cry regularly.
    2. Discuss my feelings openly;
    3. Talk on the phone for lengthy periods.
  • Three things you don’t do that women usually do:
    1. Wear makeup;
    2. Care what my house looks like;
    3. Wear skirts (I will if I have to …).
  • Three things you don’t do that men usually do:
    1. Know anything about car maintenance or repair;
    2. Watch sports on television;
    3. Feel at home in hardware stores.
  • Three things you don’t do that women usually don’t do:
    1. Show my temper in public;
    2. Disagree sharply and assertively with others;
    3. Show competitiveness.
  • Three things you don’t do that men usually don’t do:
    1. Enjoy shopping;
    2. Spend hours on grooming;
    3. Know domestic secrets like fancy ways of removing stains from clothing.

There, I answered everything. That’s an interesting exercise because I can’t help but draw on stereotypes as I answer the questions, but, of course, I’m talking about ways I undermine them too.


Filed under Life, Memes

9 responses to “The gender meme

  1. Dark Orpheus

    This is irrelevant, I know – but I have to ask: why do cyclists have to shave their legs? It makes it more aerodynamic? So the cycling tights don’t chafe?


  2. It’s because it makes clean-up easier if you crash. Nice thought, right? I think it’s also tradition and style.


  3. Interesting meme and I like your answers. I can relate to so many of them. My mother-in-law once many years ago gave me a make-up kit for my birthday. It had something like five different lipsticks, 20 different colors of eye shadow, four different colors of blush and all the various brushes and what-not needed for their application. Since I don’t wear make-up it was obviously meant as a hint that I should (my mother-in-law is very good at giving me these kinds of hints). I thanked her, put the stuff away in a closet and after sufficient time went by, threw it all away. I also work with mostly women and it drives me nuts when we have parties and they play the “oh just give me a sliver” of that cake game. I could go on, but I think I should stop now 🙂


  4. doktorholocaust

    stealing this!


  5. I am very similar in some ways–I don’t like wearing dresses or high heels, and I wear the most minimum of makeup. My niece does more girly things (trying to look “pretty”) than I have the energy or desire to do. If I had the money to decorate my home with stuff from Pottery Barn or buy my clothes from boutiques maybe I would (or maybe I wouldn’t–not sure), but I don’t. I have no problem spending $40 on books, but I cringe when I have to spend that on shoes or a sweater (surely I can get one more season’s use out of this…). But I do get easily emotional (I hate that some commercials even can bring tears to my eyes)—HATE that, but at the same time I don’t like talking about my feelings or personal things–doesn’t happen often. I sometimes wonder about these “stereotypes”–and that is exactly what I think they are–imposed by others because quite often people I know don’t necessarily sit easily within their own “gender type”. I always think it is interesting reading these memes!


  6. Oh dear, Stefanie — that doesn’t sound like fun! — getting the makeup as a “hint” AND the pretending not to like to eat. I have this feeling that my mother-in-law is puzzled by me at times, but thank God, no hinting!

    Danielle — you’re right I think that people so often don’t fit the stereotypes. And yet they can be so powerful — I feel bad sometimes when I don’t fit them, although I try to get past that.


  7. This is such an interesting meme, and I keep meaning to do it and never quite getting there, because I fear I may have nothing to put in some of the categories. I know I have quite a masculine way of thinking, but the rest of me falls fairly squarely into old feminine stereotypes. I’m afraid my mother has had more influence over me than I’d care to admit! I do admire women who have muscles and can do fearless athletic things. I am a total wimp.


  8. I had lots of fun thinking about this meme as well but I was sufficiently uncomfortable about some of the stereotypes that I apparently harbour that I never posted my answers! I found that my ideas about female behaviour are much better rounded than my ideas about male behaviour and I was a bit dismayed by that. After all, I’m all for the liberation of women AND men (not to mention everyone who positions themselves somewhere in between or somewhere else entirely). Come to think of it, this could be a good ice-breaker for the feminist legal theory class that I commence teaching tomorrow…

    My beau’s mom sells Avon and in the early years of our relationship I received some elaborate cosmetic kits from her. But now she knows me well enough to steer clear of the make-up and opt for moisturizers and bubble-bath and such. I guess that makes me halfway girly when it comes to that sort of thing…


  9. I was afraid of the same thing, litlove, and I did have to spend some time thinking to fill everything in. I found I had a lot more to say about the things I don’t do that women usually do than some of the other ones.

    Kate — I felt better about the stereotypes with the word “usually” in the questions, but even so, I wanted to clarify in my closing sentence that I knew I was drawing on stereotypes — I felt the need to hedge a little bit.


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