Sunday, 29 April 2012

Housework is a feminist issue

Nearly joking

One of today's jobs
A woman's work is never done. Barefoot, pregnant and chained to the kitchen sink.


Maybe that's a joke, a cliche that's old hat, but not entirely...


Survey after survey show that women do the lion's share of domestic chores regardless of how much paid work they do.


They have precious little time for themselves and constantly report feeling tired. (These surveys are filed under No Shit Sherlock.)


This is 2012 and equal opportunities have been enshrined in law for many years now. We all know the numbers suggest that the glass ceiling is barely cracked, but at least we know what should be happening.


However, it's the not-at-paid-work time I'm interested in.


When I'm not working I want to do stuff with the Boys and the Panther, and my friends and the rest of my family. I have books to read and books to write. Blogging, social media, hills to climb, countries, museums, conversations, recipes, musical theatre, sun salutations.
At the same time, I also want to have clean, flat clothes in my wardrobe, full fat toilet rolls, enough fresh groceries, a taxed and serviced car, a groomed garden and fewer weeds.


I'd like a house that doesn't scream squalor at me and clutter that doesn't threaten to suffocate.


isn't something a bit like that what we all want? Men and woman.


Obviously I am a woman and I'm seeing this from the oestrogen side of the street. But I have known a few men, hell, I've even married a couple.


Panther of News, if you have got this far this isn't simply a nagblog, but I would like to know what you think.


I have observed that in my home and most of the homes I know the woman trends to be responsible for domestic matters. This means that even if she doesn't actually do the work she knows when it should be done and instigated our delegates it. She also thinks about it, factors it into her available time and, often, puts it before things she really wants to do. 


Not the most rigorous piece of research I'll concede. However, it certainly looks like a gender issue to me. So what's going on?


Is it a throwback to prehistoric days when we kept the cave neat while our men were off hunting and gathering?


Is it that a well as producing eggs, our ovaries also reduce our tolerance to mess, dirt and disorder? Therefore we are most likely to give in and get the Hoover out.


Is it the reverse that a penis blinds its owner to dust, smears and empty food cupboards?


More paranoid. Have we managed to be persuaded that our womanly worth is measured in clean windows and home baking thus making us so busy that we have less time for proper a achievements? Keeping the competition down, you see.


I'd love to know the answer and more importantly the solution as I have a world to change and not enough time to do it in. So I'd rather not have to think about how to get nasty marks off the carpet.


Meantime, today - my day off from paid work - will be spent cleaning my squalid house because I can no longer stand it. 




19 comments:

  1. You see it never seems to reflect badly on the man of the house if it is a tip - only in terms of his choice of wife. Or so my ex-MIL let me know in no uncertain terms!

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    1. That's true. It's something that we're supposed to just be able to do and if we can't/don't we are somehow lacking.

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  2. Speaking as one half of an all-female household, it isn't any easier when there's two women sharing the space! I loathe and detest housework and so do it only when it's necessary. My missus feels the same. We do clean up but not on a religiously daily basis. As I work mainly from home or at least spend more time here than the missus who's got a horrible commute, I do feel I should do most of the housework.
    And I often hear my late mother's voice in my head when I consider Hoovering or washing the windows but then think 'och it will do until tomorrow!' Is it a feminist issue? Probably. And gender stereotyping - girls help mum in the kitchen while boys go in the garden with dad - doesn't help (says the woman still bitter that she was ironing aged 10 while her brothers watched TV!).
    In short, I haven't a clue. But I do know that carpet won't clean itself so I'm off to do my Sunday morning chores.

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    1. Interesting. My sister's in an civil partnership too and it does seem to me that there's a slightly fairer division of labour - or at least the negotiations start from a flatter place.

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  3. "My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance". Just found this which made me smile. Once, before freezers, automatic washing machines, shrink wrapping, sell-by dates,hoovers,antibiotics, housework was a lot about hygiene and health. It was also unskilled labour and even not very wealthy households employed someone less well off to do it. Now we have all the gadgets, but they still need kicking into action. Personally, I've reached a compromise with myself. I recognise I don't like feeling overwhelmed by what surrounds me, so it's more about my mind-set than the actual jobs, so
    I tackle it. If I've cleaned, tidied my home throughout over the course of a week, that'll do. It's far more about me taking control of it, than what anyone else thinks. Mxx
    PS There's a difference between tidying and cleaning - the former (putting things away and clearing a few serfaces) can make a room look as if you've done the latter!
    PPS my office desk is the exception to any kinds of order I try to impose on the rest of the house, but I can always shut the door on that!!!!

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    1. I think we all aim for a compromise, I just seem to find it more and more difficult. x

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  4. PPPS I've just noticed that on my computer all the comments seem to have been made in the middle of the night. I posted mine at about 12.08 p.m., not 04.08 as shown on mine. We can't all have sat up all night!

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    1. I notice that and I've no idea how that came about.

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  5. We came back from a lovely mini-break on Thursday night. Since then, I have done laundry, vacuumed a couple of rooms, mopped the kitchen, put new bedding on our bed, made two dinners, done shopping. And I still found time to collect repaired car, go into town to change the residents' permit disc for said car, go the gym and do a 5k run.
    Stuart has been fishing and gone to the angling megastore to buy more fishing supplies. He did take a bin bag out and strip the bed - but both only after gentle suggestions from me.
    I did at one time think of trying to wait him out but realised that, even though I'm many miles from fastidious, I would crack at the squalor long before he did.

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    1. I've tried the waiting game too - in fact I still do over some things, his floordrobe for example - but it's far from satisfactory.

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  6. Well said. I am now awaiting a response from the Panther of News! Funnily enough, this had made me think. We're a female only household here and I'm the only adult so I can't really add anything based on our immediate family set-up, but my brother's wife is away for two months and zero housework is getting done there. The plates are pilling up. So he needs a nudge in the right direction. Interestingly, my father has never done any housework in his life either. I wonder to what extent the patterns of behaviour have been set until someone reminds them what century we are living in. No offence to the men in your household. Just an observation from ours!

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    1. You might be on to something there. Someone male, I can't remember who, once said: "Of course we don't do more at home, as long as we get away with it, we won't."

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  7. enough of this nonsense. My shirts won't iron themselves. The boys need to learn to do more off the cuff so they to will know how to treat the ladies when they're older, like me, Mr deconstructed.

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  8. WOW...just wow...I think a lot of the comments on here are just really sexist.. but hey, stone me Im a man after all!

    I think that probably most of you are missing the point...its not necessarily about men and women in general...it about 'your' men perhaps!
    Now take me, I work, I run my own business, so does my wife...we both work long hours, often into the wee hours. However we also have four children, ages from 13 to 5 so there are also huge demands on our time for everything under the sun parent! Oh and there's the dog too...so walk etc etc!
    Not once not ever have I or my wife considered that housework is a womans job..Or in fact a mans job...in fact I have played house husband on many ocasions (I mean by myself whilst my wife has been away for weeks at a time)and am if I say so myself very good at it. In fact my wife often comments that I am often beeter than her at it, but thats irrelivant. Household chores don't do themsleves, but we see it as a joint effort to get them completed, if not it all falls down and won't work. Whoever is closest or there at the time does what is needed to do, ironing, washing, hoovering, cooking, cleaning..it reaaly dosn't matter. We have a 50/50 division of everything, we are in a partnership, a partnership of life, and that mean everything the good, the bad and the ugly...oh and we talk to each other too...about everything! Not say that we always agree, but we are in a democracy!
    I may be a little different for my generation but I think that generally now days, men are far more this way inclined, modern life and relationships are far more balanced than they used to be so be careful about stereotyping...after all we could go down the route of women drivers could we not!! Boot and other foot!! ;-)
    So perhaps you should just look to your own personal situation and not blanket assume that us fella's are all the same...if you're not happy with your situation...well its up to you to change it!
    Good luck

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    1. I'm not trying to be sexist, just talking about my observations. I think that's why I wanted to explore the whole area.

      You may be right it's my man, and the men of many of the people I know. And I think it's fantastic you and your wife have equal responsibility for your family and its home. I wish more men would follow your lead and I fervently hope that future generations will - my sons certainly.

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    2. I was more refering to a lot of the comments below your post being sexist....your post actually delivered some very valid points. I wish all men would pull their weight, unfortunately like all things, there are always some who spoil the party.
      However, thank you for your gracious reply and I really do hope that perhaps you can get your husband to see he needs to be more of a real man around the house. And as for your son's...Im sure they will turn out to be fine men, especially with the influence of their mother :-) x

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  9. As we both work full-time, I think it is pretty even in our house - the Greek God(zilla) has his set responsibilities like recycling, taking the bins out and the garden. I tidy up (endlessly), do the weekly food shop and most of the laundry. I am also in charge of remembering birthdays and anything seasonal! He sorts out the car insurance etc. Who does the cooking depends on what we are having - he makes a great chilli but roast chicken is me. We couldn't agree on who to give the honour of scrubbing the toilet and oven to though, so hired a cleaner to do all that xx

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    1. It sounds like you have it very much sorted. Through this post and the responses I realised that I need to be more insistent that the people (male) with whom I live pull their weight. x

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