An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Saturday, March 06, 2004  

Housework and men

The housework debate of course does make it extremely obvious that despite the goals of the feminist movement, men never have done their fair share, so I think its time to move on to noting their amazing ability to get out of the housework. Here are some initial observations as to why women are still the principal houseworkers (even if there are foreign domestics to do the hard stuff):

1. Men postpone a job so long women just end up doing it themselves. Its easier than nagging. If you do keep up the nagging then you realise you've become a nag and are turning into your mother so you just go ahead and do it.
(Of course, then you've become a martyr in which case you've also turned into your mother - which reminds me of the one about how many Irish mothers it takes to change a light bulb. None. Its ok, I'll just sit here in the dark....)

2. Men do the job so badly, you have to do it again anyway. At which point he can then accuse you of being Monica. So not only are you doing the job but he gets to dismiss you as a freak.

3. This one is really clever. Not only will they not do the job themselves but they don't want you to do it in their presence. It's 'do you have to do that now?' They want to watch telly or something and the mere act of you doing chores in their presence is ruining their fun because they feel guilty. So they complain and you stop and wait until they're out of the house so you can do it in peace.

Now, not only have they avoided the guilt but they can also pretend that the work never actually happens at all. This all comes out when the housework row takes place every few months and they can claim that they do half the housework because they don't know that 90% of it even exists. And you've conspired in helping them believe this. So not only are you doing most of the work, which you might not even resent doing, (some people do actually find satisfaction in it), but you are not entitled to any acknowledgement, never mind gratitude for doing it at all!

Lest anyone should assume that these observations are specific to my own domestic situation I would like to stress that I've compared notes with my peers and its all the exact same. In fact, many have noted that because women are no longer acknowledged as being queens in their kitchens, the men get to criticise the women's standards, which in their parents' houses never happens.

So the sad conclusion for my friends is that housework has not just lost status, but its actually a guilty secret.

For those who do despise washing up etc, some advice from the East: make these tasks a prayer. I do this. Thank you God for the fact that I have nice dishes to wash. I am so lucky to have food to wash off them. Thank you for giving me a beautiful bath which I relaxed in last night to scrub. Thank you for giving me carpets to vacum.

Admittedly this does look a bit freaky in writing but I swear it works.

posted by Sarah | 17:12 0 comments
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