I would say that I live in a pretty progressive area within a pretty progressive state. Yet, the vast majority of my neighbors seem to be following traditional gender roles very strictly.
Case in point: yardwork.
Mr. Jane and I both do yardwork. Sure, he is more likely to be the one mowing the lawn, but I chalk that up to the fact that he has less tolerance for tall grass than I do. But most often, when there is yardwork to be done, we're both out there---weeding, trimming, hauling dirt, raking, shoveling, whatever.
On a typical yardwork-y weekend, if you walk down our street you will see me, Mr. Jane, and the rest of the neighborhood men. Occasionally, my next door neighbor and diagonal-across-the-street neighbor will be out mowing the lawn or weeding. But other than that, there are no women in sight.
Fast forward to weekday mornings, the school bus stop on our block. Tons of kids running around. Tons of parents milling around. All women. Zero men.
Our neighborhood is oddly traditional. The men have the careers, the women are all either stay-at-home moms or have part-time careers. During block parties, there is hardly any mixing between the sexes: the women congregate on one side of the street, the men on the other.
I continue to find it odd that in 2005, the norm in our neighborhood is close to what the norm was in 1955. That we seem to live in this bubble of domesticity. That the only ones who deviate from this model are the ones who don't have kids, which would be us and the diagonal-across-the-street neighbors.
And sometimes I wonder, as Mr. Jane and I discuss the possibility of kids, of how we'll structure our lives around them, of having Mr. Jane be the primary caregiver....I wonder what the neighbors will think.