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What I Learned From Couch Conversations, “Gender Roles” (VIDEO)
by Avione Lee
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February 7, 2019

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What I Learned From Couch Conversations, “Gender Roles” (VIDEO)

What is the hardest part of bending traditional gender roles in marriage? I watched BlackLove.com’s Couch Conversations and found out.

Growing up, gender stereotypes were alive and well in my household, as well as the households of all of my friends. We were the latch-key generation children of married women who worked, but still had all the responsibilities of the household. So our mothers not only worked a full-time job, they were at PTA meetings, fixing full-course meals, cleaning all the dishes, dropping us off at soccer matches, and making sure our homework was done. It didn’t matter if they were married, partnered, or single — from a traditional viewpoint, they were bringing in the money like the man, with all the responsibilities of the woman.

So looking at my friends’ marriages now, we realize, shoot, times have changed. Woman have been steadily in the workforce for two generations and in the Black household much longer than that. And guess what, we aren’t doing everything anymore. Marriage is a 50-50 split where the spouses inherit talents are celebrated, not pushed aside because the woman should cook even though she only knows how to make SpaghettiOs from the can — and she still burns them.

So it was nice to see this sentiment echoed in the “Gender Roles” episode of the BlackLove.com series, Couch Conversations. I enjoyed a lot about the honest and frank conversations of Khadeen and Devale Ellis as they welcomed two couples to the conversation: Melissa and Kevin, who have been together for 18 years; and Issa and Casie, who, married for two years, were holding it down for the newlyweds.

Both couples realized they had to throw away all they thought they knew and start to follow what worked for them.

The couples talked about following dreams and, in so doing, reevaluating the man and woman’s role in the house. Both couples realized they had to throw away all they thought they knew and start to follow what worked for them. Through layoffs, living in cars, and fixing lunches, while moving towards their goals, both couples were able to make it work by finding out what their true roles were in their relationships — outside of gender. And it was not what they originally thought at all.

Couch Conversations

For both couples, the women were the ones bringing in the bread while the men pursued their passion in Los Angeles. The women said that the hardest part was working with the male ego. They did not want to hurt their man, who was already feeling low by not living up to the most stereotypical of stereotypical male gender roles in the household: bringing in the paper.

When Khadeen brought up that it does not look like they followed traditional gender roles at all, Kevin mentioned that a deacon in their church told him he couldn’t be the man if he didn’t pay the bills. But, Kevin thought, if I pay these bills, they will be late. The reason was that he was not organized in that regard, yet that was Melissa’s strength. That was the first time in their marriage that they had to say, I don’t care what works for y’all, this works for us.

The women said that the hardest part was working with the male ego.

It was clear that all three women knew that they did not want to hurt their husband’s ego, which appeared to be the main female gender role that was non-negotiable in all three relationships. But Khadeen flipped it and wanted to know what the males gender role should be to support their woman “no matter what.”

Casie immediately spoke up and said that, to her, being thankful for what she does is being supportive. Telling her thank you at the end of the day is what she needs to hear, not what they will be doing the next day, or complaining about what didn’t go right. She just wanted a thank you.

Melissa agreed and said that Cassie spoke directly to her heart. “The only reason a dreamer can dream is because there is a solid person at home, holding it down.”

Melissa’s husband Kevin brought it around and said that in a marriage, you can’t expect people to be the same year in and year out, people change. He mentions that he became more ambitious, and his wife became more confident, there is no way that one person is going to stay the same. Kevin said, “you have to do what works for you in your marriage. What worked for your parents or grandparents is what worked for them, and what works for us is what works for us.”

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