Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Good Farm Wife

Dairy farm chores still include walking the cow in to milk.
In all things love and war, people say mean things.  The one thing I liked about the attorney I had in my divorce was that he had this saying, "the high road is the difficult road, but the view is better up here..." I liked that and it was an easy mental reference when I wanted to respond to something during a very difficult time.

A friend of mine introduced me to another saying. See, he was at a fair where a friend of my ex-husband's started to talk about our divorce. I was not there, and he stopped the guy from talking and said, "...there is his story, her story, and then the real story... since you only heard one side of the story, you really cannot tell if that is true, so maybe we should not talk about that." I did not talk about negative things publicly and I still think that airing dirty laundry is not the way to go, especially when there are kids involved. It humbled me and reinforced what the attorney said.
Another thing that came out of that conversation was that my ex-husband said "She was a good farm wife, and then one day..." Now, the friend who brought this to my attention also thought they could tease me with this.  I asked what being a "good farm wife" meant. He listed chores that a woman performs on a farm, like chores, cooking, housework, feeding calves, taking care of children, chores, etc.

Doing chores... in this case I just kicked a round bale off the truck.
I do repeat "chores" here, because "chores" were brought up a lot.  I asked why that one, more than any other was brought up.  He said because a farm wife is expected to contribute to chores.  He needs her to help.  Ok. When I flipped the question about what makes a good "farm husband", two themes came up "supporting her" and "making her happy".  Not a task based definition like it was for the woman.  That was oddly universal.  I then pushed and asked why it was defined in two different ways.  I did not get much of an answer.

I then asked other people in rural areas to define what makes a good farm wife. I got more task based descriptors for women. Some of them included things like baking, canning, taking children to activities, going to church, gardening, and more chores. Even if a woman had a more management role, it was often referred to as "chores."

When I asked them more about what makes a good farm husband, I got more global comments again. I found it interesting. I also wondered if this was a rural thing, or if this could also be similar in other professions or in more urban or suburban marriages. What if they were same sex couples?

Anyone have a good idea why a woman's role is task based and a man's is not?