"I like fiery passion, actually." - Olympus
Question #35806 posted on 04/30/2007 3:01 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

It seems to me that the world is being overrun by political correctness, particularly when it comes to the sexes. Does it seem to you that PC-ness is hurting the world?

Because of the blurring of lines in gender roles many women do not feel the need to learn how to cook, sew, clean, etc. because it is "sexist" to expect them to know how to do such things.

Men also seem to be losing their "male-oriented" knowledge of restoring a car, fixing a flat, repairing the plumbing, etc.

While the one gender is abandoning their traditional roles, the other gender is not eager on picking them up either and so when two people get married neither one of them have the skills that the other one expects.

Do you feel that all this political correctness is causing this lack of knowledge and skill? Or is there another reason why no one seems to know what they are doing anymore?

- Does it matter if this question was asked by a male or female?

A: Dear,

Although the gender roles are useful, and I'm not sure on precisely how they fit in cosmically, I can't say that this particular thing bugs me much.

If the woman can't cook but the man can, he might as well be the one that cooks. And if she can and he can't, she might as well. And if they're about equal, they can both do it. If they're equal in not cooking, they can come up with new solutions.

If someone's good at fixing things, it doesn't matter to me if they're a guy or girl. And if no one can fix things, they can either learn or pay someone else to do it.

The way I see it, you should be able to survive on your own before you can get married. And if that means you eat a lot of ramen or have to call in a plumber, that's okay, so long as you're okay with it. If you're not, you should learn to cook or plumb. And when you get married, there's no promise in there that your spouse can do everything you've ever seen in a dick-and-jane book. In fact, by the time a couple gets married, they should probably have come to terms with the cooking and fixing abilities (or lack thereof) of the other. So long as you can get by alone, I'm willing to be that you can get by with someone else.

Now, maybe it would be nice if people came so that they were outfitted to be married with specific skills so that only one half had to learn to do each skill set. Very convenient. But the fact of the matter is that some people just don't have the aptitude or the interest in learning the things that have traditionally been associated with their gender.

Some people may not have the opportunity to learn, and that is a shame. I think our culture values things like cooking and fix-it-iveness less than it used to. And with the convenience of pre-prepared meals and restuarants, as well as easily-accessible professionals, maybe that's okay. Those skills are becoming more luxuries than necessities. But if you have the abililty to be a great cook, it would be nice if you had a parent who also cooks well, and could share their enthusiasm and knowledge.

For myself, I don't think it's that big a deal. I can cook decently, I like to learn more, and I'm excited to be able to expand on that and use it in the context of a marriage. But I think there are aspects to marriage that are much more important and much less negotiable.

There are things that I think our culture has had a negative influence on in the home and marriage arenas, but these kinds of gender roles aren't one of them. Or they are, it's such a minor thing I don't care.

-Uffish Thought
A: Dear Jamie,

I don't know if it's so much political correctness but adaptation as people of whatever gender strive more towards self-sufficiency and independence. I pretty much wasn't allowed to leave home before I knew how to change a flat tire because my dad wanted me to be able to take care of myself if I ended up stranded on the side of a road in the middle of the night (or in a dorm parking lot while trying to move to a new apartment). I was happy to learn this because I knew it was an important skill for life and that by teaching me, my dad was helping become more self-sufficient and independent. I also refused to leave home without a fully stocked toolbag. My dad was happy to help me put one together.

While tradition would tell us that a man's role is to take care of fixing a flat or being handy, life does not always work out so that there will be a man around to do these manly jobs. So, the female species has adapted to this possible situation by picking up on some of these skills along the way, so they will be able to survive without having a man around all the time. It works the same way for the males--in the event where there wouldn't be a woman to cook or clean for them, they've adapted to new (womanless) situations and picked up some of these skills along the way.

I personally do take offense to someone thinking that "womanly" jobs are all I am good for, because I feel like it implies that I'm helpless on the other end, without being able to take care of a car or a blown circuit (though I can, for the most part). As society adapts to nontraditional situations, we need to adapt to nontraditional roles so we can be self-sufficient. I suppose political correctness has taken note of these things and is reflecting the changing gender roles as different genders adapt and learn new skills.

Now, just because I know how to change a tire and carry a toolbag doesn't mean I don't know how to prepare a meal or sew on a button. That's part of adapting and becoming self-sufficient, too. However I do recognize that there are certain skills I am better at than others, so I use my resources to get by: either learn to improve my skills or get a professional. I don't think it's because political correctness has taught me that I don't need to know those things; it's just more convenient. And, as we are all aware, we lazy Americans are all about convenience. Besides, who am I to take away business from a mechanic/plumber/restaurant/whatever?

Really, I think that's the answer you're looking for. As things become more convenient people lose the motivation to learn self-sufficiency and the skills that they can now rely on others for. So, you can either rely on the convenience of our culture, or strive to be self-sufficient and learn all the life skills that you'll need to get by, with or without a spouse who traditionally would do them for you.

-Kicks and Giggles
A: Dear Nope, Not One Bit

I don't think it particularly matters what individuals choose to learn or not learn. It's fine if any particular woman doesn't want to learn to cook, or a man has never taken the time to learn how to change the oil. The only concern I see about political correctness (and this was also a problem before political correctness, don't get me wrong) is when people assume that their point-of-view is the only correct one.

An example of how this rears its head with political correctness is that people who have decided women should be in the workplace decide that stay-at-home moms simply don't know that they should be in the workplace, that they're unhappy because they are stay-at-home moms. It never crosses their minds that the stay-at-home moms have made a conscious decision to stay at home. Now the decisions to work or stay at home are both fine and good, and should be left to each individual, but when one becomes the better choice (almost inevitably making the other the "uninformed" choice) we enter problematic realms. And this is far, far from a criticism of just political correctness.

-Humble Master