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Are there skills which you lack due to your fear of stereotyping yourself?

(53 Posts)
turdass Sun 26-Jun-11 10:16:21

Sorry, badly written title.

What I mean is that my mother is very repressed and tried to bring us up the same way. She made us (sister and myself) do housework as 'We would need to do it too when we had a husband to look after'. As a result, I am crap at housework because I totally rejected where she was coming from with it (even though I realise that being clean shouldn't be associated with gender in any way.)

Similarly, I cannot type/knit/sew as these were all skills which were associated with being a 'good girl' when I was young. (I am 40 now).

Weirdly enough, I am a SAHM right now whilst my DCs are preschoolers. However, I had to really, really fight with myself over this issue. I hated myself for conforming to my parents' views that women should stay at home with the kids but really wanted to spend my children's infancy with them.

Has anyone else had these kinds of weird interior struggles where you reject something which is beneficial or which you want to do because of the 'shame' involved in being a 'stereotypical' female?

...or is it just me? grin

msrisotto Sun 26-Jun-11 10:29:09

No, I can't sew on a button - DP does it for me.
Similarly, he can't DIY to save his life so I do that. But that's more to do with the way we were brought up (one by builders, one by office workers!)

Greythorne Sun 26-Jun-11 10:34:04

I know what you mean.
When I was at school, the less able (academically) did:
-typing
-childcare
-needlework
-home economics

My parents despised and mocked the girls who did these subjects blush. I was forced to do Chemistry, Physics, Design Technology as well as the subjects I wanted to do. I hated Chmistry and Physics, failed Design Tech and now can't sew or touch type. I really wish I had skipped Chemistry and Design Tech and learnt sewing and typing.

alexpolismum Sun 26-Jun-11 10:36:18

I can sew on a button, but that's as far as my sewing skills go. This is because my parents did not want to stereotype. I would like to be able to sew a bit more, but I can't see myself sitting down doing embroidery!

alexpolismum Sun 26-Jun-11 10:37:44

sad why despise and mock those poor girls, Greythorne. Those are useful skills to have, and since it was the school's system, obviously it's not like they had any choice in the matter!

mumwithdice Sun 26-Jun-11 10:39:14

Well, funnily enough, yes except I come at it from the opposite direction. I was trying to be like my mum who rejected things like sewing, etc as anti-feminist so, in essence, I was taught those things were bad for women to do. Plus my dyspraxia didn't help.

Then I met DH who sews and cooks and is far tidier than I am. I envied the pleasure he got out of making things. So I asked DH to teach me a few things and now the hobby I miss most (DD is only 6 months old) is needlepoint.

I also felt terrible when I gave up the PhD I was doing because it was making me miserable. It had been making me miserable for two years and then I got pregnant which was the catalyst I needed to stop torturing myself. I thought I was being a bad woman again by actively wanting to be a SAHM which I am now. I've never been happier in my life than I am now as a SAHM.

So I think it is about whether you feel forced into a role or not.

mumwithdice Sun 26-Jun-11 10:39:57

PS. I am 30

cleverything Sun 26-Jun-11 10:43:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Greythorne Sun 26-Jun-11 10:44:28

alexpolis
that's my point! My parents were idiots to despise these girls (and it usually was girls) for taking needlework and typing as these are great life skills which I dearly wish I had!
That's why I wrote blush. i am deeply embarrassed my parents despised and mocked people because they probably weren't bright enough to go to university / did not have the support from family to aim for university.

Deeply embarrassing and stupid. And I would give my crap GSCE in Physics for the knowledge of how to make a pair of curtains anyday.

jenniec79 Sun 26-Jun-11 10:48:45

Nope.

Mum taught cookery/mothercraft (later home ec). She stayed home with us when we were little. My DB took to the toy hoover (admittedly using outside as a lawnmower) and toy ironing board far more than I ever did! We both learned to cook etc at home and are both capable of day to day home-management, cleaning, mending etc.

I only discovered the "joys" of keeping my flat nice in the last year or so, but have always loved baking/cooking, go through phases of diferent crafts (mainly needlework - cross-stitch, knitting, crochet, occasional dressmaking). I'm perfectly capable of driving on motorways at night, changing a tyre/topping up oil etc, and ENJOY making my own IKEA stuff, and work in a mainly traditional male environment. Meh. Makes no odds to me.

I don't really identify as a feminist in as much as the modern "women are best" sort of way though - more an equalitarian - I can do anything I set my mind to do, regardless of the presence of ovaries, while DB can do anything he wants to do too, irrespective of their absence.

Empusa Sun 26-Jun-11 10:51:31

Not any more, but at school I chose to do Resistant Materials rather than Sewing because I was so desperate not to fit the "girl" mould.

With hindsight, Resistant Materials taught me nothing useful, whereas sewing would have been useful. I'm signing up to do a dress making course now.

CrapolaDeVille Sun 26-Jun-11 10:54:34

I fix our car, decorate, etc. DH cooks a alot, washes irons

In short we do what we're able and not what we're supposed to do.

Still after one short watch of Top Gear, despite me fixing our car and DH not having a clue, my oldest DS said that men were 'better' with cars than women! No more Top Gear for him!

BrawToken Sun 26-Jun-11 10:54:39

How can you be bad at housework - do you mean unmotivated re housework? Is mopping, dusting, hoovering a skill? I worked in domestic type jobs in my teens for some extra money, so I guess I learned these 'skills' then. I rarely use them, though grin I work full time and any time I have at home I want to spend with my girls. My partner is great around the house, though.

Have had to learn to sew a bit as my dd does a lot of ballet and have been sewing up pointe shoes etc. BTW, I can't dance, have never encouraged her to dance, instead gymnastics, football, rowing etc, but she found dance herself and auditioned for a specialist school and now is a dancer.

I do wish I could run up a pair of curtains etc as it would save a fortune and, I guess, be a massive achievement.

I wish I could bake and have been teaching myself - my Mum never baked, cooked, cleaned etc, but she did work out of the house and still does and I admire her more than anyone in the world.

Bumperlicioso Sun 26-Jun-11 10:59:04

No, I sew, crochet, bake etc because I enjoy it. I celebrate it as now we have the choice to do these things. Just as I choose not to know how to service my bike, download various things and mow the lawn. My dh doesn't mind doing those things. But we both have choices in life, and left on our own would be perfectly capable of trying them.

Wish I could touch type though!

GetOrf Sun 26-Jun-11 11:02:57

I love cooking but refuse to learn to bake, it's just so damn twee.

I can't sew either, but DP is brilliant at it, however he knows nothing about cars so I do the basic car maintenance.

I am an engineer by profession and have always preferred the traditionally male subjects, I was the only girl in my electronic class at school for instance.

There is still a male/female divide at school. DD's school has useless subjects such as textiles and child development, which are 100% studied by girls - she had no interest in choosing these subjects at GCSE thankfully but I would have forbidden it anyway (because the GCSE cert isn't worth the paper it is written on for these subjects).

alexpolismum Sun 26-Jun-11 11:04:08

Greythorne - sorry, I knew you meant your parents, I didn't word my post well.

Such a pity to have those attitudes. My mum was similar in a way. She can sew/ knit/ embroider/ make rugs/ do dressmaking beautifully, but refused to teach me or my sister any of it.

tribpot Sun 26-Jun-11 11:04:38

I had the opposite experience, in that my mum is a major feminist and brought me up the same way. But she is an expert knitter, I mean professional quality, and I have always enjoyed embroidery and in fact did this for her many years ago now.

But what's weird is, the guys I work with (and it is nearly all guys, I work in IT) are always amazed by such things as they must assume on some level that I would reject the 'trappings' of traditional female stuff. So when I went to see Strictly Come Dancing on tour, they were like: "You like Strictly? You?". Well, I have absolutely no embarrassment about loving Strictly, or sewing, nor do I feel I'm either playing to or against a stereotype. It's just what I like.

Equally I can't change the tyre on a car - one has the RAC for that type of thing grin - or curtains or DIY, both DH and I are completely crap at that.

Never too late to learn how to type or to sew (I do actually find being able to touch-type extremely useful for work despite not having done actual computer programming for many years now). Or to learn how to change a tyre for that matter!

I agree with mumwithdice - it's about whether you feel forced into a role.

Empusa Sun 26-Jun-11 11:11:27

"DD's school has useless subjects such as textiles and child development"

Curious why you think these are useless?

TrilllianAstra Sun 26-Jun-11 11:19:13

Baking is just cooking GetOrf, would you say that you can make roast potatoes but you refuse to cook mash?

My parents have a pretty traditional gender divide for DIY/cleaning, but I've come out of it dividing the world not into mens jobs and womens jobs but
jobs I will do
jobs that don't really need doing
jobs that I would rather pay someone else to do

I used to be a scientist and cooking is my replacement for experiements: you measure things out, mix them about, heat the up and/or cool them down, and at the end instead of data you get food.

bucaneve Sun 26-Jun-11 11:21:25

Nope.

When I was little my grandma taught me how to sew. At the time I thought it was super boring but now I'm really glad I learned and love doing crafty stuff.

I love cooking, and especially baking.

I spent my whole childhood/teenhood doing ballet and gymnastics - and still dance now.

I'm planning a career in Early Years.

I can't do/enjoy a lot of traditionally male things though - e.g. hate all sports involving a ball, scared of power tools, can't drive (I think this is mainly due to my extreme clumsiness more than anything)

- I'm not ashamed though, and if anyone were to suggest I couldn't do any of these things because I am a woman I would give them short shrift and a little lecture on feminism.
They are just individual differences, and there are plenty of women who can use power tools and men who can cook and sew.

GetOrf Sun 26-Jun-11 11:22:40

I know, it doesn't make any sense tril, I will stand for ages in the kitchen making a curry or a pie, but the thought of measuring flour and sugar to make a cake just makes me shudder. Somehow though DD has got the baking bug and bakes cakes and buns all the time.

Empusa they are useless from an academic pov.

Empusa Sun 26-Jun-11 11:23:33

Not if you wanted to go on to do childcare or textiles though.

GetOrf Sun 26-Jun-11 11:24:09

Actually I think it is the measuring which does my head in re baking. It's not like savoury cooking when you just throw in a bit of this, a bit of that.

GetOrf Sun 26-Jun-11 11:25:31

Possibly not, but useless if you want to go on to A level/uni and not have a crop of crap GCSEs.

bucaneve Sun 26-Jun-11 11:33:57

I rarely measure when I bake, I just chuck stuff in 'till it looks like the right consistency, taste a bit, then think oooh i'll chuck in some lemon juice/brancy etc.

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