Field of Science

Repo Men and gender roles

Scene 1:

Man comes home to find that his key doesn't work anymore. He rings the bell, his wife opens the door, and tells him hers works just fine. She has had the lock changed. She gives him his suitcase, which she has packed for him. She tells him she is taking their child to her mother's. Man leaves with suitcase.

Scene 2:

Woman comes home to find that her key doesn't work anymore. She rings the bell, her husband opens the door, and tells her his works just fine. He has had the lock changed. He gives her her suitcase, which he has packed for her. He tells her he is taking their child to his father's. Woman leaves with suitcase.

Scene 1 is from Repo Men. It's a fairly common scene from TV and the movies. These are stories we tell each other, because these are events that really take place somewhere every day. Repo Men is a story about organ transplants in the future - it is not social realism about the relationship between married men and women with children.

Scene 2 is not seen often. I don't recall seeing such a scene in a movie or on TV, but it could be out there somewhere. Here's my prediction, though: If scene 2 does exist, it is in a story about the relationship between married men and women with children. And why am I fairly confident in this prediction?

The makers of Repo Men wanted me to be outraged that a company takes back artificial organs that people hadn't met their payments on, but it was scene 1 that really pissed me off. It is women who are underpaid and biased against in the job-market. I hate that. I want to get to the truth of that, and fix it, and I am not alone. Politicians talk about it, because their constituents talk about it, because it is fair that gender alone shouldn't result in two equally qualified people in the same job earning different salaries. But no one talks about scene 2. 

Scene 1 happens on a daily basis because it is the norm that mothers are the primary care-givers, and that somehow gives them more rights to the children. The law (in the places I know about) explicitly says that father and mother have the same legal rights to their children, and yet this is not how things are enforced. If the police is called for a domestic dispute, their initial assumption - which they act upon - is that the husband is the problem. Courts rule in favor of women more than men in disputes over child custody. And men allow this as well, because we feel deeply that mothers are more important to children than fathers are.

Scene 1 is sad, but it seems reasonable to us.

Scene 2 is weird, because that would be fucked up. Right?

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