An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Tuesday, June 28, 2005  

U2 and multi-tasking

Went to the final U2 concert in Croke Park last night. I'd been there for the Joshua Tree tour in 1987 and knew not to be blown away as I was then a mere teenager up the front. Now I was up in the seats in the Upper Cusack out of the throng. Still was most disappointed with the sound quality. We couldn't hear Bono's voice on most of the songs. Still, Running to a standstill, With or Without You, Where the Streets, Sunday Bloody Sunday, In the Name of Love and One, were all excellent. And I was delighted when they finished with 15 as they did in the old days.

And regardless of sound, they are still soooooooo coool. Especially Larry and Adam. They are what being cool is all about. Hanging out in the background wearing leather, not trying, just doing their thing. And I know it's easy to slag Bono, but you know what, he's right. I just hope Blair isn't using him. As far as I can tell the whole debt cancellation thing is bullshit unless they change the trade laws. What's the point in sending aid but then charging them huge tariffs when they try to process any of their raw materials?

Finally I went to a party at the weekend and got properly drunk for the first time in what felt like years. Crucially I did not puke, fight or cry. Thus I was deemed hilarious and can be sure to be invited back. Anyway, one friend relayed a classic row she had with her husband, most of which I was able to anticipate as she told me.

Normally she picks up the two children from the creche on the way home from work. She lets them out to play in the back and puts on their dinner. While it's cooking she empties the dishwasher, puts on a wash, and empties the creche bags. One day, she was working late. Her husband picked up the kids, let them out, put on the dinner and sat down to read the paper. When she came home and tripped over the creche bags and fought her way through the dirty linen to get a plate from the dishwasher, needless to say she asked why the chores had not been done. "But I was doing the dinner!" the protest came. He was convinced that as a job was taking place, he was working. HOW could he be expected to do all those other things? He was doing a job! She should be grateful! She's so meeaaan. I could just imagine the rest.

We agreed that it is absolutely true that men are incapable of multi-tasking. Women are the superior sex in this as in many other fields (like not going around raping other people). I offered to my friend that no doubt as she lay in bed at night planning how she would accomplish all the necessary tasks the next day, her husband probably accused her of insanity. I was right of course. Meeting all the same people just two days later for the U2 concert, my husband blabbed to her husband about her betrayal (since obviously I had attacked my husband with evidence of his sex's sloth). All the husbands started ganging up then and demanding the right to a voice in my column. They want to campaign for lower standards at home. I say, fine. Have your lower standards but stop asking me where you might get a clean shirt at 8 in the morning....Of course you know what their solution is...outsource it. Let's take money from the family budget because they can't do the work and they're sick of getting crap from us.

Which reminds me... there was a survey published in the ST which said that men are doing twice as much housework now than in the sixties but as they did feck all the in the sixties they are still doing feck all. Will it ever be 50/50? Not as long as they can only do one thing at a time. Like oppress people.

posted by Sarah | 13:32 22 comments
"Not as long as they (men) can only do one thing at a time. Like oppress people."

That's some bit of misandry from you Sarah.

I was at last night's gig too and I was extremely disappointed with the sound quality. Especially seeing as I had a good location - midfield and not far from the pit.
yeah, I know. There have been a lot of rape cases in the papers these days and they seem to sicken me more the older I get. Then the G8 stuff is annoying. Eight men and they get to f*** over the starving millions . I suppose I'll get over it.
Clean shirts? You mean my wife is supposed to do my laundry? First I have heard about it? I think I have been had!


Now if Bono, Larry, Edge and Adam had to do housework, could they possibly be as cool as they are?
"yeah, I know. There have been a lot of rape cases in the papers these days and they seem to sicken me more the older I get. Then the G8 stuff is annoying. Eight men and they get to f*** over the starving millions . I suppose I'll get over it."

Time of the month?
Now that you mention it, yes. Damn.
By the way Conor. They never actually say, do my laundry. In fact if you protest they'll will assure you that they are happy to either do it themselves or pay someone else to do it. And yet, because they will stand there, all exasperasted, looking for clean clothes which aren't there because they couldn't even manage to bring the dirty stuff to the laundry basket, you get so irritated you do it just so you don't have to put up with the dressing anxiety. I need help.
Update on those rape cases. The awful incest one which has resulted in the search for a baby's body has details printed today. The mother helped the father and brother to rape the poor girl. Tied her hands behind her back. I feel sick.
Sarah you are missing the point women do the cooking and cleaning and men do the gardening and DIY.

No Leon. On several counts.
a) most people I know have a little garden
b) men will mow that little garden (after a row).
c) women will do the intensive stuff like weeding, planting, buying flowers etc
d) I know one husband who does DIY. The rest are useless. My husband won't hang a picture
e) this is actually a good thing because the other useless husbands don't think they are useless. They think they are great. So they refuse to engage professionals to do jobs, start them, make a bags of it and then the wives have to sort it out and the men, as usual, have just generated more work than they do. Grrr.
I remember when your blog styled itself with some sort of reference to "lazy journalism". Did the ST ask you to change the title when you became one yourself, I wonder?

Your repetitive comments about men and housework etc are typical of the stock-in-trade, whimsical, "aren't men awful because they're hopeless around the house" lazy female journalism that has been around for about thirty years, trite generalisations dressed up with a meaningless sting in the tail about oppressing people to suggest that you have vaguely feminist credentials.

I use the word whimsical because I guess that you are trying to be funny, and that you are not really as worked up about your husband's domestic inadequacies as you imply.

Presumably you had some sort of say in selecting your husband, though since you apparently live in the country, I suppose it's possible that your old fella swopped you for a couple of sheep and a heifer, or a site with planning permisssion.

Of course, now that we know that you think that a bunch of middle-aged wankers in a grossly over-hyped band represent the epitome of cool, your suspect taste in men is no longer a private matter.
Wooooooaaaa! Flame city! I wonder what I have done to the poor Camille, not only to earn such wrath but force her to read my trivial whimsical blog!
Rather than exercise my power to delete I will answer some of the points.
1. No, the ST did not ask me to change the sub-title of the blog. I did it because when I started out I focused a lot on current affairs and as I had the time to read lots of newspapers could frequently compare different and inaccurate accounts of events. These days I am more limited in reading opportunities so I felt I should change the title so as not to mislead anyone.

2. I keep coming back to the housework row because when I do get together with my peers, it is obviously the no. 1 source of antipathy between couples. I think it is a legitimate feminist subject, in fact, in the second wave of feminism it was the core subject. How could women ever be free if they had to carry the burden of caring and housework? Since Betty Friedan wrote the Feminine Mystique, women have been trying to get men to share this burden and if my peer group is anything to go by, they have failed. The result is that these educated successful women come home every evening and get totally depressed because they have to start a second day's work while their husbands play sports, read the paper, or do one job really slowly while they (the wives) do 5. It pisses them off and they feel trapped. They are all trying to figure out a) are they mad b) does the work really need to be done c)can the men ever be forced to share properly d)is it easier just to get on with it instead of fighting about it? If the issue was good enough for Friedan, its good enough for me.

3. I met my husband during my high flying urban days. He is gorgeous and lovely and brings me breakfast in bed every single day and puts up with me bitching about him publicly. I did have a site with planning permission. A match made in heaven. Ha Ha.

4. With regard to U2, I think you'll find that several million people agree with me.
Surely, one of the partner selection criteria was that he/she shared in the house hold work? One ex-girlfriend refused to move in with me until I learned how to use a washing machine (at least that was what she claimed....) ;-)

ps: now that our peers have their own baby boys maybe they can bring them up to be enlightened men?
Hi Conor

Taking your last point first, obviously I hold ambitions of raising gentlemen and homemakers. In this I am happy to say that my own mother showed my brothers how to cook and perform other household basics. In other houses this did not happen.

I think what happened with the whole housework issue is that before couples got married it wasn't really an issue. This was primarily because there was less work to do. Also, taking my own relationship into account, he always did his own ironing, shared the cooking and devoted himself to refuse disposal (still a principal chore). It only began to rear its head after the children arrived and the move to the bigger house. The 'creche bag' husband referred to in the original post defended himself at the party on a number of points and his mates joined in. He began with a line which he claims is old but I never heard it before. "Women get married hoping their husbands will change. Men get married hoping their wives don't. Both are disappointed".
The men's defence is:
1. they are no good at multi-tasking. They wish they were but they are not. They acknowledge their wife's ability to do so but it will never enable them to do it
2. the standards are too high. Lots of the work doesn't need to be done. There is some merit in this and it's the one that constantly plagues me. It is possible that the wives are brainwashed into maintaining ridiculous standards.
3. because the women took maternity leave and more of them either work part-time or stay at home, then they know what has to be done and it is their job to do a lot of it. The men are quite sure that if they had the time off then they would be more familiar with what is required. On the one hand this makes sense, but on the other taking point 1 into account, I am not sure they would be capable of taking on the burden.
4. Because they are 'working' in the office longer they have more on their mind and no mental or physical energy left to do the jobs. I have a certain sympathy with this but then I recall how I force myself to get out of the chair and do the bottles because they simply have to be done.
5. Why can't we just pay someone to do it? This seems really logical but I have to confess it bugs me. Why waste the money when we could do it ourselves. It just means sharing more.
6. Finally, there is also the issue of what one write whose name escapes me calls 'wife work'. Its not the housework but the other stuff. If we are invited to a party I RSVP, buy the present and write the thank you note afterwards. I know when the doctor's appointments are and take care of the administration. The response to that by the husbands was that women are really good at that sort of thing. I think this is called being hoist by one's own petard.

Finally finally, I should also note for his sake that in addition to bringing me breakfast in bed, he feeds the toddler downstairs and give me an extra hour in bed. A lot of the husbands do this. Its very nice.
Middle Aged Wankers?
Micheal isn't a wanker. Bono is though and they don't have any good songs.

Light a Big Fire
There's some real rock n roll.
Finished with 15? I think you mean "40" ... how long to sing this song etc. Then again I wasn't there.
Aaaaaagh! You are right of course! Where did 15 come from? Does someone else have a song called that? I need more sleep.
Entertaining and provocative as ever but, in this case wrong. There is nothing 'female' about running the home or multitasking. Men do less than 50-50 because they have been socialised to do so. The institutions that form us all -- home, school, peer-groups, the workplace -- have taught us that men do less of this work. So we perpetuate that imbalance. Women's unfair burden is historical and so women must seek to reprogramme men if they seek restitution.

This generation is the first to have even approached equitable distribution of household management (and in a very patchy manner). The next generation will move closer towards parity. We are at an interesting moment in this regard as the rules are being rewritten.

[Read following in smug, self-righteous tone] In our household the tasks you describe are distributed equally, there is no gendered reason why they cannot be. The obstacles are ones of institutional socialisation and there demolition will mainly be achieved, unfair as it may be, by women.

A welcome contribution. I did have a sneaking suspicion that the 'inability' of men to multi-task was a question of training and lack of necessity to do so.
btw today I am sooooooooo bored. I hope lots of people riot at Edinburgh.
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GO TO HELL FEMINAZIS!!!! ya I oppress people every day because I'm a guy.....WHAT THE FUCK?!!
I agree with a LOT of points above and the idea of 'wife-work' really rang true. But before I got very far with my righteous indignation I realised that my partner carries out an awful lot of ‘husband-work’ as well. If there are lights to change, cars to fix or icky creatures to be removed from the house then its automatically HIS job. Good to know there’s a balance :-)
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