Stereotypes are a real time-saver

Friday, the New York Times ran an article titled: Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy Building My Brand. The title made me cringe and the article I could take or leave. Over the course of the weekend, several others offered rebuttals:

Honey, Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Writing a Mildly Annoyed Letter to the New York Times. Newspaper Bias Against Mom Bloggers An Open Letter to the New York Times About Mom Bloggers, Women Writers & the Universe

I started to pen this whole analysis of the original article and follow up ones, but frankly, I ran out of steam. Each article (including even the original one from the New York Times) had some really great points and some lines that made me roll my eyes. So I'll let you peruse those at your leisure.

The articles above actually got me thinking more about gender roles and stereotypes. Rich and I discuss it a lot when we watch television. If you watch commercials, I'm sure you know that all men are stupid and all women are nags. Men are just as messy as the kids and need to be cleaned up after, so you better get those name brand paper towels. Women are fickle but if you give her diamonds she'll probably have sex with you. It's unilaterally insulting.

Jeremy and I ran across these assumptions, particularly when we were baron and baroness in the SCA. It was important to us that people coordinated with both of us versus only me. We didn't want us to fall into rolls of him being a dancing bear and me being the bitchy organized one. It was a great lesson in using "We" instead of "I" and helped our marriage too.

The other day I sent this article to Rich: Please Get My Husband to Stop Helping Around the House. It actually led to an argument later that evening. We're probably both a little sensitive about things like that these days, but I got annoyed that he washed the diapers because I wanted to try something new and I hadn't explained it to him yet. We're falling all over ourselves trying to help our collective household and we're getting in each other's way sometimes. It's something that sitcoms and stand-up comics and newspapers and television exploit. But the truth is usually a lot more complicated.

Rich, who until meeting me claimed to not like cats at all, is solely responsible for cleaning the cat boxes. I am the designated lawn mower in our house, even when seven months pregnant (though we did just buy a new mower and I'll probably let him have the maiden ride around the yard just because the old mower was such a thorn in his side). We each do our own laundry. Rich is much more vigilant with the vacuum than I am. I do 90% of the cooking, though Rich is making real progress in that area. I showed Rich how to do his own sewing project on Saturday. Our lives, and roles, are not quite what Johnson & Johnson, NBC or the New York Times would have you believe.

Do you think men suffer from gender stereotypes as much as women do? Do you think media is more biased than individuals are? Do you get annoyed when you do things that are stereotypical of your gender/race/age/nationality? Do stereotypes ever serve a purpose?