It was a dim shade of green, so dim that it almost blended in with the floor rug. But out of the corner of my eye, I saw its pointed tail wiggle. It was the tail of a lizard sneaking across the living room.
Immediately, I yelled to my husband who was in the other room. “There’s a lizard!”
He yelled back, “Did you kill it? Should I get you a shoe?”
I heard his footsteps like a stampede down the hallway as he burst through the door, threw me his loafer, and hid behind the recliner.
My husband was utterly terrified of lizards, snakes, mice, rodents, even spiders, roaches, and other bugs. Every time one of those pests entered the house, he would run behind the sofa or under the bed, and I would corner the pest until its fate met the underbelly of a shoe. After which my husband would emerge from his hiding place relieved, yet recoiling at the sight of the creature.
This time, he slowly exhaled I gently shooed the lizard out the back door, sparing it the loafer’s heel.
My friend gave a raucous laugh after I finished the story.
“You did not,” she said in between chuckles. “He did not.”
And she was right. That story was pure fiction. Well, it did happen except the roles were in reverse: my husband always chases after the pests while I watch safely from cover.
I personally would not have it any other way. Mind you, I am no stranger to killing bugs or chasing rodents. But there is a proper time and place for my partaking in such behaviors, and this time or place is certainly not while my husband is in the house. I have no qualms about flagging him down to handle the unsightly task. Indeed, if I all of a sudden I became the resident bug chaser, where would that leave him…or me?
Unlike some women, I do not attach a negative stigma to the concept of “roles.” At no point during a regular soccer match does the goalkeeper become a striker. Each footballer has a role to play. And if the goalkeeper does leave his box to sprint down to the other end of the pitch, you better believe the entire team is under duress; it is the eleventh hour of stoppage or extra time and a goal from the keeper’s boot might be the team’s only saving grace—otherwise, that goalkeeper is not leaving the box.
People often accept roles in some spheres—the game of soccer, the workplace, the school classroom—but are reluctant or unwilling to accept roles in other places—the household.
I have heard many a woman discuss their desires to access everything that men have and do, but I have yet to hear one say that she will or does volunteer to be the bug chaser in the household.
I am certain though that they would say this story is silly and does not pertain to their imaginations of a genderless society. I would disagree.
I implore these women to seriously consider the role of the bug chaser. This role is important as it is a symbolic representation for the protector, not only of the household but of the community. If there is a threat to the household or to the community, this role gives space for the men to investigate the threat. If there is a threat to the nation, this role gives space for the men to bear arms and fight against the threat.
Usually my lovely sisters end their equality demands at holding the same job as a man or wearing the same pants or wielding the same consumer purchasing power, yet they do not move further to understand the men’s collective role of protection in society from outside threats.
I, for one, do not desire to tango with reptiles and certainly not with the vilest cold-blooded villains of all—people.
But to the women who are equal in all ways to these men, I toss them a shoe. The chase is afoot.