We shouldn’t strive to avoid or fit into gender roles

I take responsibility when it comes time to resurrect the dust buster because the accumulation of cat hair on the living room floor has manifested into tumbleweeds, and our hardwood floors into carpet. And when a food coma confines us to the couch and we can’t take one more second of Carrie Bradshaw meta-commenting her doubts with Big, even though she cheated on him with Aiden, but then moved to Paris with Petrovsky, which is totally — you get the point — it’s Tyler who scavenges through the cushions for the remote.

I’m obviously the man in the relationship: I have the lower voice, the larger of our residual collections of sport shorts from the “straight” years, and I get uncomfortable wearing more than two primary colors in one shirt. Tyler probably doesn’t wear the pants in the relationship: He likes wearing neon pants that might as well revolve around the Earth like a second sun. He condemns me for my fashion disasters such as wanting to wear anything American Eagle, and he does the majority of the housework.

It’s plain and simple: Society depicts that the one that does the masculine work wears the pants, the one that doesn’t is, well, just the belt to keep the pants up, I guess.

Asking who’s the man and who’s the woman in the relationship isn’t typically asked out of curiosity, nor is it usually asked expecting a serious, straightforward answer. Fact is, asking who wears the pants and asking who the man is in the relationship, it’s degrading.

Because both of us wear pants. Both of us have typically masculine characteristics, and both of us have feminine ones, too. Neither of us are the man or the woman, nor the pants or the skirt. We’re both the men in the relationship. We’re just two individuals in a committed relationship. And our roles? Well, that’s the beauty about being in an untraditional relationship: There don’t need to be any.

If you have to ask two men who the man is in the relationship, the optometrist is a phone call away, and may I recommend a dose of feminist theory while you’re at it?

We are both men who don’t strive to fit roles and molds set by heterosexual couples and a heteronormative society. Sometimes I do the traditionally feminine work, and other times the traditionally masculine. But at the end of the day, it’s not gendered work, just work. And whether that particular job fits a gender’s role is just as irrelevant; we conform to the type of work that needs to be done, period.

And this extrapolates into an even larger problem: social hierarchies. And you don’t need to look much further than our very own campus and throughout the media to see the intersection between gender roles and social hierarchies. Gay men competing to be the bulkiest, “straightest,” most masculine you can be without actually being heterosexual. Because when you’re perceived as straight, you assimilate better into a society that values white, heterosexual men. And once that hyper-masculinity is obtained, the rest are instantly deemed feminine. This phenomenon perpetuates so that eventually, the distinction between feminine and masculine gay men is largely observable, and the status as either a masculine or feminine gay man is all the more important to associate with.

There is undoubtedly a crossroads between traditional gender roles and untraditional relationships. The same groups that are, in fact, untraditional and who don’t adhere to traditional roles, are now trying to simply force themselves to fit. There are untraditional groups trying to fit traditional roles — and it just doesn’t work.

I’m not the man in the relationship, and neither is Tyler. The first problem is pretending like there needs to be one, the second is that our society can’t look at gender roles as malleable and abstract.

Sure, Tyler may be handier around the house, and I’m more about work and school, but that’s just our personalities, not our permanent roles. If the cats are clawing each other over catnip privileges, it’s not Tyler’s job nor is it mine. It’s the job for whoever isn’t stubborn enough to wake up in the middle of the night and not complain about it the next morning.

Adam is a senior in ACES. He can be reached at [email protected]