Monday, October 4, 2010

On Gender Roles

JAN: Last week, my husband and I got home late - from our respective recreational activities (basketball game and exercise class.) As I was making dinner, I asked him if he had taped -- or really the correct terminology is DVR-ed, The Tenth Inning. It's a Ken Burns documentary and if you are a baseball fan, stop reading now and go set your own DVR because its AWESOME.

But back to the subject matter. My husband had already DVR-ed the The Tenth Inning. as I pretty much knew he would. Why? Because somehow, its become his job to DVR our entertainment schedule. Now, it's not as if I'm such a Luddite that I don't know how to operate the DVR. In fact, when he's traveling, he'll call and asked me to tape/DVR a game for him. And I'm perfectly competent at getting the job done. (which is amazing considering my track record with other forms of technology) But although we never talk about it, we both know that under normal circumstances, it's his job. He'll even record things that he knows I like, and that only I'll watch (old, sappy movies) because, well, it's his job.

And I wonder, how has this happened?? It's not like this is some sort of gender thing handed down from the generations -- our parents couldn't master the VCR, and never dealt with the DVR. Still, it feels like we are settling into established male/female roles. Is it because men care more about TV?? Because they've commandeered the remote for so long?? Or is this something that only goes on in my house???

HALLIE: I had to laugh, because though we don't DVR...ever...we do get DVDs and play them. My job is to open the Netflix pouch and insert the DVD, then I hand my husband the remote control. Too darned many buttons on that thing if you ask me. On the other hand, in the car I'm the one who drives. Always.

ROBERTA: Ha ha Hallie, that's a funny division of labor. But I can't work the remote either--John always worries that I'll have to watch TV in the bedroom where the system is simpler if something happens to him. We have other splits too--he's been to the vet only once in our 20 years together. I give the report on the pet in question and he gasps at the bill. (It IS always high, but they are worth it!) He usually drives, I usually cook. This subject reminds me we should probably shake things up once in a while, just so we know we can!

JAN: I do the same thing Roberta. I head to the TV in the bedroom where it's not so incredibly complex.
I also don't really care what size the screen is or if I have surround sound.

HANK: I do the DVR'ing around here! Whenever Jonathan tries, well, what can I say. It doesn't seem to work. HOWEVER. When it comes to turning on the televison, or watching a DVD, I am clueless. Literally, honestly, sometimes I can't even get the television to turn ON. ANd if I had to watch a DVD by myself? Well, I couldn't. (How ridiculous is that?)

(Jonathan drives. Jonathan takes out the trash. I usually cook--except for Thursdays, when it's Jonathan's night to do dinner.)

But I work at a TV station, right? And I can't even turn on our TV. (And right, gang, except in the bedroom where it's just--imagine this--clicking "on.")

RHYS: It's because they deliberately make it hard, Hank. Our family room TV has one remote to turn it on, another to move through cable stations and probably a third if we want to view a DVR. Result--I watch TV in kitchen and bedroom rather than admit I don't know which remote is which. And have you noticed--keeping the remote from husbands is like taking away their manhood. They eye it, then they make a gentle suggestion that they just need to check another channel and if you don't give it to them--they wrestle it away from you. Then they go flick, flick flick all darned night!!! Which hunting and gathering gene turned into the channel-surfing gene, I wonder?

JAN: I think you are right Rhys. It's a conspiracy! I'm guessing its the hunting thing. What's everyone else out there think?

And please come back tomorrow for True Crime Tuesday when I talk about the Wisconsin DA who you couldn't make up no matter how hard you tried and whether he'd make a believable villain or not.


  1. In our house the remote is shared more or less equally. But if I hit the wrong button and screw up the picture it immediately becomes my husband's remote and problem because I don't know how to fix it. :)

  2. I am laughing out loud and it's only 6:50 in the morning! This has become standard in our house as well. I can operate the remote, but my husband loves to do it, so why take away his joy? I will admit there's one little button that sometimes I hit and that messes everything up, but I know how to fix that now. I'm good with all other forms of technology. I'm the repairman in the house. I can fix wiring, paint, plumb, etc. And I cook. I can at least give him the TV control, don't you think? ;)

    Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

  3. Donna -
    You have a truly liberated home -- equal access to the remote. Pretty rare as far as I can tell.

    You are a very generous woman. If I had any technological skill whatsoever, I'd try to lord it over my husband. (who fixes EVERYTHING, and complains he's my own personal I.T. guy.)

  4. Yes, Avery and Donna, that one little button! I hit that, too. ANd suddenly, nothing. Snow. If I knew which one it was, I could put tape over it or something.

    The other thing about the remote--we always forget we're watching a dvr'd things and sit there watching the commercials. Then--because J has the remote--I have to gently remind him to fast forward!

  5. we usually sit down to watch a specific sports event or show so there isn't too much channel-hopping. Every once in a while I have to say "I'm leaving now..." and that stops the switching back and forth betweeen games.
    From October thru April, I cook. The rest of the year, Bruce grills. I'm very happy with this arrangement. I'm embarassed to say how much B does around the house because it would make me seem like a princess..but then..

  6. You just need a tiara, Ro!!

    Men and grilling, that could be its own gender role blog!

    Hank, we forget the commercials some times too, but not during sporting events when they're usually more irritating (or maybe just NESN and the repitition....)

  7. Men and grilling!! Yes a perfect blog.

    Jonathan: How long do you tink it'lll take for the lamb?
    HANK; Sear it five minutes on each side, and then move the coals, cover and cook for ten more minutes.
    Jonathan: Realy? I dont think that's long enough.
    Hank: Then why are you asking me?


    Hank: It's done! Take it off.
    Jonathan: No, it isn't.

    Hank pokes the meat with a finger. "Yes, it is. It's medium rare."

    J: You can't tell by poking it.

    H: Of course you can.

    Pause pause

    J: No you can't.
    H: Fine. Now it's medium.

  8. Wow. I could never let someone else control the DVRing. Of course, neither could my husband. We both set up the schedule and delete stuff and probably actually have the remote in our hands about equally. There's a lot of (mostly good-natured) ribbing if during the actual viewing the person in charge gets too wrapped up in the paper or a laptop and forgets to fastforward through commercials--or heaven forbid, fastforwards too far. We both claim to be the best at it and with no kids in the house there are no third party opinions available.

    My husband does all the grocery shopping and the cooking. Grocery stores make me catatonic. I do the clean up. This gives the cook very little motivation not to make a total mess. I keep trying to tell my husband the chefs on TV who put every single ingredient into a separate little bowl have "people" and he has no people. Thirty-five years of this and no impact, so I'm not really expecting to have any now.

  9. Hi Barb -
    Another liberated household, I'm very impressed!

    In our house, I'm the one making a mess during cooking, but I've started to get a little better. My husband cleans Everything all the time. It's a good combo.


  10. LOL Hank I love your grilling scenario. I can so picture it.

    Over the years I've worked side by side with my husband (and I don't mean just handing him the tools) putting up vynl siding, installing new windows, complete overhaul of the bathroom, sheetrocking, spackling, repairing our cars and more. (I use to be a fleet mechanic for ATT twenty six years ago. Unfortunately, over the years I've forgotten more than I know and the car have become more technical than what I use to work on) Yet that remote is my achilles heel. Oh and so is cooking. You can't have everything, right?