Monday, July 23, 2007

men do nail polish

While I am going through my field notes from my research this week, I am going to try to recollect some of the most interesting things spotted or experiences. For example, back in June, I interviewed a group of nine women in a hair salon about their mobile phone use and changes in their lives. During this time, I did notice something odd. While salons are usually separated for men and women (like our barbers and salons), there was a man doing nails for a young woman. Yes, I suppose if this was in Vancouver or in some super trendy salon, it would not be strange. But in the context, I asked my research assistant about it, and she said that he was actually not working at the salon. He was a hawker (people selling knick-knacks on the street) and men had picked up the job of doing manicure/pedicures in the area. If a salon does not offer the service, they walk through and do the job. I also noticed another man doing nails from a woman's home several days later.

So talking about gender equality, do nails become a gender-neutral (or is it in this case a male-dominated occupation?) job in rural Uganda? What other examples of jobs exemplified as women-dominated are now being taken on my men even in contexts that appear to be extremely gender-biased? A man carrying a baby on his back in East Africa or man being the "house help" (where the wife works and the man stays home)?

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