"A marriage in which roles and responsibilities are determined irrespective of gender considerations" and exchanged based on practicalities (Maushart 2003:13).
I've grappled for a long time with the notion of true equality, what it means, how it plays out in marriage and how to explain it. Susan Maushart sketches (p. 12) the contemporary relationship where partners believe in equal sharing but the woman ends up with the biggest domestic burden and when she protests the man challenges her "Just tell me what to do and I'll do it" (p. 12). Or a couple believes in equal parenting, but he goes back to work after a few days of paternity leave (to "bring the bacon home") and "she stays home, frying it and feeding it to junior". The couple tells each other it is only temporary (while she is on maternity leave) but when she does return to work the pattern has been set.
Married to Martie, who is domestically challenged and not socialised to be a mother (but I do love her dearly, all the same) I think I am privileged to understand what Susan Maushart is conveying. If a man really wants his woman to be an equal partner he should not need to be told what to do in order to do it, but must just know—the way a women just 'knows'. To illustrate, Martie and I looked after a friend's toddler for a weekend. The little guy appeared to be uncomfortable. Having co-parented a son in a previous marriage I just knew it must be a wet nappy, thirst of hunger and proceeded to explore and resolve the little guy's discomfort.
If equal partners are co-parenting either partner should be in the position to SMS or phone the other, checking if the other could take charge as she/he has a business trip, a work commitment and would be late, etc. The other would just step in and fulfil the necessary roles.
When I go away, I make sure that Martie has ready-meals. I do it because I love her and because I know she is domestically challenged. This is not equality; it is a case of swapped traditional gender roles.
Mothers, if you want to socialise your sons to be equal partners, let them check junior's nappy to feel if it needs changing. Let you boy/s change junior's nappy and do all the necessary things. Let your boy/s bath and dress junior. Let jour boy/s help in the kitchen, experiment with cooking, make dinner, help with the washing and/or cleaning, etc. etc.
Fathers, the same apply to you. Socialise your daughter/s to confidently do traditional male things and fulfil male roles; encourage them towards equalism—do not allow them to be subservient.
Maushart Susan. 2003. Wifework—what marriage really means to women (paperback edition). London: Bloomsbury.