Friday, October 13, 2006

The Politics of Housework

The Politics of Housework

This link goes to one of the best essays ever on how the political and the personal really do go hand-in-hand. It lays out the dynamics involved in the push-pull of getting a man to actually do more than give lip-service to gender equality.

It was written THIRTY SIX YEARS AGO and yet it is still as relevant today as it ever was. For example: My last relationship got mired in an endless battle over his lazy ass expecting me to do all the nasty housework, and re-reading this just raises my blood pressure, I swear. I once even printed this essay out for him and he FREAKED OUT.

Now I live alone, and I still hate housework, but at least it piles up at the one-human-per-household rate, instead of twice that. And I'm certain, very certain, that I'll never live with a man again unless we agree in advance that he cleans up after himself AND we hire a maid for the shitwork AND I get my own bathroom. And that there will be no whining on his part, and no need for reminders or complaints on mine. This is an entirely bourgeois solution, as it costs money to have an extra bathroom and a housekeeper, but I cannot come up with any other solution that doesn't involve CONSTANT VIGILANCE, which is work in itself.

My mother would say, when I was fighting with the ex over housework, "well, you just need to get over this," and I'd say, HOW? I see two solutions: 1. become the maid and clean up after him 24/7, or 2. live in filth. Neither of these was an acceptable solution, and I certainly couldn't afford to pay a housekeeper.

I constantly hear women around me complaining that they can't get their husbands to pick up their socks, or put away their dishes, or what-have-you. My marital advice, at every wedding shower I go to, comes from my mother and is highly valuable. I doubt many people follow it, but here it is:

"Never do anything for a man once if you don't want to do it for him for the rest of his life."

In other words: pick up his socks once, he will forget how to, assuming that you "don't mind," or "it's more important to you," or perhaps he doesn't think about it at all. He'll just quit doing it himself. So just don't start.

I just never understood how anyone who's met me would assume I'd turn into Betty Fucking Crocker the minute he gave me my own keys to the front door. I've had this happen more than once, and I just don't get it. The question, "Have you met me?" comes to mind.

Why would a man be attracted to a feminist woman with a strong personality, a lively intellect, and an active social & intellectual life, and think that this very same person would be totally satisfied and fulfilled by hours of drudging, nasty, thankless housework? If I don't want to do it for myself, why in hell would I want to do it for someone else? And, conversely, if a man loves and respects his partner, why would he want her to be his maid? I find it degrading and disrespectful. I went to college so I wouldn't have to clean up after other people. I'll never understand why a healthy, fully functioning grown man thinks it is some other person's job to follow around cleaning up after him, unless of course he has hired that person and is paying them to do so.

1 comment:

hedonistic said...

I think that by buying a woman an engagement ring, the typical man thinks he's signing a personal services contract. I really, really really do think men think this way.

Check it: The ring signifies ownership. He "supports" you (regardless of whether or not you, too, work) and agrees not to chase other tail while you're watching. This is a high "price" to pay, in his opinion, this marriage thing.

But the BENEFIT is that he gets a personal servant for life! Jeeves with tits! Awesome!

Frankly I think marriage is the suckiest bargain a woman could ever enter into, unless the man is freakin RICH with his own support staff already in his employ . . .

Cohabitation is even WORSE because a woman won't get any social, financial or legal support for it.