Home Advocate skills, not gender – Sterling Journal-Advocate

skills, not gender – Sterling Journal-Advocate


My wife, Myra, and I have been active at many universities over the years in the field of archaeological exploration. We excavated, among other things, a Folsom site in Elbert County, a mammoth femur in Kanarado, a Clovis handaxe cache in Bird City, Kansas, and bison bones at the Laird Bison Kill Site.

On one such occasion, we were greeted by the head archaeologist, and he immediately directed Myra to a meter unit and asked her to continue working on it. He threw a shovel at me and said, “Go over there about 100 yards and dig some holes to see if you can find anything interesting.”

You see, Myra is a perfectionist. His units during an archaeological dig are incredibly accurate, rivaling any professional in the business. Its “walls” are perfectly straight and nothing is missing. She is meticulous. On the other hand, I had bad luck (read lack of skill and/or patience) in the past and my units looked like bison wallowing in the mud. As a result, whenever we worked with professionals who knew my “story”, I was assigned an off-the-record task where the worst I could do was not compromise the integrity of the site.

As I was being thrown a shovel at one particular dig, a student asked, “Oh, he can shovel archeology because he’s a guy and he can dig better?” The quick response was, “No, we just need his sideline skills.” (I remain good friends with this archaeologist, but I’m painfully aware that any kind of fancy archaeological exploration will find me on the sieve, or with a shovel, or anywhere I can use my “big muscle” group. rather than my smaller muscle groups that require precision.

If I were to trace the etiology of my lack of manual dexterity with small tools, I would suggest that it started in first grade. The pair of scissors I had to cut were about 100 years old and really dull. I think my mom found them in a box of Civil War relics and since we didn’t have much money (read, EVERYTHING) and because school required us to bring scissors, I received this pair. Needless to say, the incompetence of these scissors matched mine, and most of the time my art projects looked like pieces of paper that were strategically “ripped” rather than cut. In other words, I learned to muddle through, but I never learned the right way to cut (which is still a problem today, and unfortunately results in an aversion to anything that requires a minimum of patience and a little muscular work, of course.)

I grew up in a fairly traditional, “role level” household. My mother cooked and cleaned, did the laundry, paid the bills, wrote the thank yous and did all the shopping. At that time, these “jobs” were seen as (mostly) gender roles. The woman took care of the household and the man earned his living.

One of the ironic parts of my childhood, however, was that both of my parents strongly believed that gender roles really didn’t mean much, and that kids could grow up to be pretty much anything they wanted to be. , as long as they were willing to do so. put in the effort. This may explain the fact that my three sisters all have their doctorate degrees and were/are the main earners in their family.

I suspect that in my first marriage, I adopted the role model I had grown up with. Valerie did not work outside the home and, although she had a budding artistic career, she was secondary to household chores.

After her death, I found myself having to take on the roles of both housewife and breadwinner, and while I was competent at the latter, I wasn’t really a housewife (oh the stories , my children could relate, from one dish I could cook, which they called snail slime, to my vain attempts to braid my daughter’s hair…)

By the time Myra came into our lives, I had made some progress, enough that my children didn’t starve and were never sent to school with dirty clothes. As Myra and I were discussing “roles” early in our marriage, she had the brilliant idea (and I say this without a hint of sarcasm) that we should assign the roles to our individual skills, and that in doing so, we would be modeling a different image for our children, an image that really had no gender component.

Over the years it has worked very well. I pay the bills, I do most of the laundry, dusting and vacuuming, I do the dishes, I mow the yard and I run the tractor, and when we go somewhere I usually drive. Myra does just about everything else, from sewing, to cooking, to general maintenance and repair (she can fix pretty much anything that needs fixing), plants the garden, weeds the garden, does the grocery store and for the past six years has been the foundation of our home-based business which sees her making molds and resin casts of artifacts for museums, universities and collectors. She’s widely regarded as the nation’s first casting founder, and the few times I’ve tried it haven’t yielded much fruit.

We often laugh at our unique “division of labor”. I do the jobs that don’t require a lot of precision, and she does the jobs that require patience and thoughtful planning. After 38 years, this gender-neutral workload has done surprisingly well.

PS: By way of admission, I overdid the laundry case. Our agreement is that I am only allowed to wash my laundry and anything Myra has placed in the laundry basket – she prefers to do some of her own laundry so she can separate colors and fabrics and regulate the temperature the clothes dryer; something about a wool sweater that was her favorite and would now only fit an America Girl doll.