Most post-apocalyptic media (and a lot of prepper groups) have this weird idea that when the world ends the women will finally get back in the kitchen where they belong. While the post-apocalyptic world may be harsher to those of the female gender than the male in some ways, anyone who things gender is the main thing of importance in deciding who does what is going to find their survival group operating at less than peak efficiency.
For a start, gender doesn’t decide your natural skills. It doesn’t decide your intelligence or how capable you are at learning. Gender has a minor impact on certain tendencies, but the truth remains that people are individuals first, gender second.
And then, you have to remember that what we consider ‘traditional’ gender roles are actually a pretty modern invention, at least among the poor. Before the industrial revolution, you couldn’t have members of the family or society not contributing. Women ran bars, shops, worked the farms. One thing they didn’t do was ‘stay in the kitchen’ because the family would have starved to death if they did.
Let’s think of it with a post-apocalyptic practical frame of mind. Say you have a woman in your group who happens to be a crack shot. Are you going to make her take care of the kids because she’s a chick? Hope not. Take that to the logical extreme, and it means all people in your group should be offered the same training and found work to do based on what they’re best at, not on what old-fashioned gender ideals state they ‘should’ be good at. Don’t stick a man who’s an excellent child-care provider on the scavenger lines, and don’t stick a woman who’s a brilliant engineer on clothes-making duty.
It really is that simple.
Are there things that either gender can do that the other can’t? Sure. With women, it’s pretty much down to ‘I can squat out a baby’. And that IS something you need to consider – babies are going to be super major important post-apocalypse and so pregnant women need to be protected. Even your crack shot from above needs to be taken off the front lines when she’s up the duff. But the thing is, you’ll need her back. So what’s the answer? Have a creche system. After weaning, all the children are taken over by dedicated child-minders, male and female.
But if you let modern-day gender binary colour your assumptions so much you end up with the person who could fix up electricity for you stuck to breeding and rearing, don’t blame me when you suffer.