Traditional sex roles have it that the woman looks after the family hearth, tending the cooking and raising the children, while the man goes off to hunt and fight.
Many explanations can be offered for these assigned roles, but to my knowledge Sigmund Freud has the most, ummmmm, interesting explanation for why men are not in charge of keeping the fire going for cooking and warmth.
Freud notes that men like to put fires out — not by quenching them with water — but by urinating on them. Women, given their anatomy, would get pain rather than satisfaction from attempting to put out fires that way, so we can understand their disinclination — but what is it that draws men to the practice? Why is this urge so compelling in them?
I was oblivious to this phenomenon until I read Freud, and, for our joint edification, I now offer you his interpretation.
It turns out that the male psyche interprets the flames phallically — as thrusting upwards vigorously and persistently. And the male psyche is, consequently, homoerotically attracted to the thrusting flames. Hence, the practice of urinating on the flames is to engage in a homosexual duel with them.
I kid thee not. Check out the footnote on pp. 42-43 of this edition of Civilization and Its Discontents.
Since men cannot be trusted to control their sexual desires, they cannot be trusted with so important a job as keeping the family fires burning.
Consequently, women are the guardians and saviors of the family hearth.
[Don’t think I’ll invite Sigmund on my next camping trip.]