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‘Who's the Man and Who's the Woman?’ Same-sex Couples in Queensland ‘Doing’ Gender and Domestic Labour

  • Susan Kentlyn


This article reports an exploratory study that investigated domestic labour in same-sex households, to the best of my knowledge the first in Australia to do so. In-depth semi-structured interviews with 12 couples in Southeast Queensland reveal that these lesbians and gay men do not take on heteronormative gender roles when doing domestic labour, and that their practices reflect a variety of styles of sharing, with no pattern emerging as clearly dominant. Theoretical frameworks conceptualising gender as performative, and queer theory's figuring of identity as a constellation of multiple and unstable positions, suggest how the performance of gender may vary in different domains of social and cultural space, and in relation to other actors in those spaces. I have conceptualised this process by means of an analogy with the modulation of sound such that each person adjusts the balance between treble (conventionally feminine behaviours, attitudes and attributes) and bass (conventionally masculine behaviours and attributes). Rather than being ‘the man’ or ‘the woman’, or even displaying a single form of gay masculinity or lesbian femininity, lesbians and gay men can be seen to perform varying degrees of masculinity and femininity in the private space of the home, and in relation to their intimate partners, by the way they engage with domestic labour. Finally, I reflect on how the socio-geographical specificities of being situated in Southeast Queensland may have impacted on this research.



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‘Who's the Man and Who's the Woman?’ Same-sex Couples in Queensland ‘Doing’ Gender and Domestic Labour

  • Susan Kentlyn


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