Womanly Duties

My snapshot blog post represent what were considered “womanly duties” in my African American household growing up. I was born in Valdosta, Georgia and I lived in a large house with my parents, grandparents, aunts and cousins. At a very young age the females were taught specific “womanly duties” that consisted of household chores, cooking,catering to your husband, and taking care of the kids. The girls were not allowed to go outside and play like the guys were able to, but were advised to stay in the house and cook and/or clean.My grandmother would always say that she was preparing us for our future husbands. 

10 thoughts on “Womanly Duties

  1. I can definitely agree with this post. Coming from an Indian family, these “womanly duties” were the same for me and my sister growing up, and sometimes even now. My sister and I would always complain saying we have to do all the chores while our brother could just go and do whatever he wanted.

  2. Hello,
    I can relate to your post because I also grew up in a culture where girls are prepared to be a housewife. From a young age, my mother taught me how to cook and how to maintain a house clean. On a typical Saturday morning, I was assigned to be up early to clean the house while my brother was allowed to stay in bed until late in the morning.

  3. I come from a family that is relatively lax with gender norms. When my older sister was asked to wash dishes, clean the house, or do any other chore, I was obligated to do the same tasks even though I was a boy. I am curious to know: having been acculturated this way, grown up and formed your own opinions as a woman, what do you think about these gender expectations that your family placed on you? Are womanly duties a part of your culture that you treasure or that you resent?

  4. I can definitely relate to this post. In my house my mother would always remind me of what duties I had to perform if I wanted to have a man as did my grandmother. It seems the common thing in African American households that the women must hold everything down while the men relax. It wasn’t until I ventured into other cultures did I see that the gender roles that I was raised under didn’t have to be how I lived my life. As women I think it is our duty to teach our female children better, make them believe that their entire life does not have to be in service to a man.

  5. Growing up, my parents didn’t instill these ideals in me but I was very cognizant of them. I was socialized through media and other societal institutions about “womanly duties”. I found myself assuming these roles throughout my life even though I know that these duties hold no weight. As I go through college and start to dismantle the patriarchy in my life, I have been moving further away from these duties and ideals attached to how a woman should be.

  6. This topic is undoubtably highly relatable among women in our society. Out of curiosity, how have your perspectives on these traditions changed over the years?

  7. I can definitely relate to this post. I grew up in a household with a Nigerian father and a Cuban mother and in both cultures, this idea that women are supposed to cook, clean and take care of the children is the norm. I remember always telling my mother that I never wanted to be married if it meant that I had to do all these things. I guess I was wrong because I’ve been married for 10 years now but I also married a man who loves to cook and helps with the kids just as much as I do. He was their primary caregiver when I had to go overseas for deployments. I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing “womanly duties” if it is what you want to do and is something that you and your partner have agreed on. However, I don’t think these tasks should just be limited to women.

  8. I can relate to your post on some level, but not all. Growing up, the women did all the cooking and cleaning, but we were allowed to go outside to play if we wanted to. There was never any talk of preparing us or our future husbands, although we were advised that “food was the way to a mans heart”. I can remember wanting to be in the kitchen with the women and wanting to learn the recipes. I can remember listening to my mom and aunts chat about this and that, while cooking. Now, I can join in on the adult conversations while helping to prepare the family meals.

  9. I can definitely relate to this post. I have a younger brother and we both grew up with mostly male cousins. Since we’re all mostly the same age we would hang out and do everything together except for when it came down to chores or duties in the household. We were all given the same tasks to do in and around the house but my aunts and mom were so obviously lenient on the boys. I would be late to all the fun because I had to stay behind and help in the kitchen or stay home on days on the weekend specifically dedicated to cleaning. I think it’s unfair that boys are coddled and babied while girls have to grow up a lot faster.

  10. This post makes remember when i started noticing how deep gender socialization is. We start our children off young giving out girls toy kitchens and baby dolls, Our boys get tonka trucks and tool sets. The benefit of this does prepare us for the future,however it also constricts our view to of what we can do, to what we’re supposed to do. Sadly this limited view can impact our exposure and experiences of all ages in our life. Thanks for posting!

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