Dear Farm Journal,
Life on the farm can oscillate from smiles to struggles and back again in rather quick succession. Today I am struggling with the fairness of our division of labor. In general, I am quite captious about equality. Our society is riddled with disparities, injustice, and discrimination, but in my daily first hand encounters, I witness it most between the sexes. Traditionally, farming has been a man’s labor, but if you look closely into almost any small farmstead, there is a woman holding it down, usually the farmer’s wife. In the farming community, as well as my own life, I observe a well worn pattern of men filling the more mechanized roles and women taking on the jobs that need to be done by hand. Men drive the tractors, women weed the gardens, and so on, and the performance of these particular roles take on different levels of importance and respect. A lot more can be accomplished when wielding modern tools, but does that diminish the significance of more basic tasks? In most cases, work done by hand is more physically demanding and can be emotionally demeaning. Think of the difference in personal composure between sitting high up on a roaring tractor and crawling around in the dirt. I believe these differences exist because of how we have built gender into our culture of labor. Men and women have been equipped and positioned for these roles since childhood, and women are far less likely to be trained in power tools, mechanics, or heavy equipment, but I hope that is changing. To make a long story not so short, I saw this in blinding clarity today and went on strike. I know deep down that Rufus does not do these things on purpose, but I have been trying to stay positive while harboring a bitterness, and it all came to a head today. I felt underappreciated and down right disrespected and started looking for a new job, which makes me more sad than angry because I truly love farming. The incident that led up to this is inconsequential because it is never one act, but a string of similar acts that develop into a pattern that eventually breaks the camel’s or farmer’s back.