"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

On The Joys Of Housework

A recent survey reported in The Telegraph (Louisa Peacock 2.5.13) suggests that most men and women prefer the workplace to housework:

The latest survey, taken from The Unfinished Revolution book, shows that in cases where it's impossible for couples to split household chores evenly (i.e. most days), the man says he would rather be the one that goes to work.

But the study goes on to reveal that the majority of women - almost 75 percent - would rather divorce their partners and continue to work and raise their children alone, than become a housewife.

It is very surprising to me that anyone would prefer a world of backbiting, petty jealousies, inane competition over fractional status; endless, repetitious meetings, bullying bosses, restrictive policies, insane bureaucratic hoops and hurdles, and ponderous, deadening eight-hour cubicle days to housework. 

Ms. Peacock assumes that spending the day in an airless office, keeping one step ahead of an inbox, stroking, soothing, injured feelings; smoothing ruffled feathers; and thanking colleagues for their inane, brainless contributions is better than cleaning toilets. Think again.

Housework has gotten a bad name because it has been associated with male dominion. Women have always done the scutwork, scraped the shit out of dirty diapers, cleaned the puke off of clean blouses, scoured a radius of three feet around the toilet to disinfect the perimeter of errant pee (women don’t realize that half of men don’t care if they hit the bowl, and the other half pee on the floor on purpose just to piss off their wives); cooked, dusted, arranged and organized, ironed, and scrubbed all to please their lord and master.

This may well have been once true. There was nothing to keep a woman in her place like cleaning toilets and changing diapers; but times have changed, and only a few select men have realized that they have a good deal staying at home while their wives pursue their careers.

First, how long can it take to clean the house?  We’re not talking Fifties when women compulsively cleaned to a shine.  Today a quick once-over can’t take more than a couple of hours.  Most professional women are so happy to leave the housework to someone else and are so staggered by the idea that their husbands are willing to do it, that the last thing on their minds is to complain.  Perhaps a “Honey, would you mind giving the bathroom a quick swish” when it begins to smell like Capp and Guerrero might not be inappropriate; but why challenge male complaisance and collaborative goodwill if husbands are willing to swab the floor, if only once every few weeks. It’s called gaming the system, and women are so enthralled by men who are willing to do anything resembling housework that they let them get away with murder.

The most successful of the stay-at-home husbands are those who convince their working wives that a little specialized help should not be out of the question. Why shouldn’t Emilia or Rosa do the heavy lifting and relieve Daddy from drudgery and routine and let him take the children to the park where he, of course, hustles young mothers and fucks them while Johnny and Melissa are taking a nap?

There is an honor roll of Stay-at-Home-Dads, an order of merit and achievement based on successful chicanery, charm, and duplicity.  The highest degree of recognition, the Congressional Medal of Honor is awarded to those men who not only have a nanny to do the scutwork, cooking, and routine childcare; but who arrange their lives to be away from home three to four months of the year.  A man who is an advisor, a consultant, or a counselor and who complements his professional wife’s substantial  income with fees by providing services to private clients is the crème de la crème .  He performs technical consulting services, but in actuality is a lounge lizard who snaps up eligible, single women; eats at the best beachfront restaurants, and enjoys the comforts of five-star hotels.

One woman in the survey says: "My mother's such a leftover from the fifties and did everything for my father. I'm not planning to fall into that trap. I'm really not willing to take that from any guy at all."

Is this lady, ironing in the kitchen during the Fifties, a 'kept' woman?

Most successful men know exactly how to play upon and manipulate these anxieties – the fear of women that they might become exactly like their mothers – and use them to gain their own privileged status.  “All it takes is to swab a few toilets to please this new generation of liberated women?”, ask men who can’t believe the bounty that has fallen into their laps. Women are such suckers.

The greatest weakness for women of this modern generation is their insistence on sharing household tasks.  They have conflated the total subjugation of their mothers and grandmothers to mindless routines of housework with feminist liberation. If only we can get men to clean toilets and scrape diapers, they say, we will have finally achieved our freedom.  In so doing, they have given even more freedom to savvy men who know that women really want very little.

Not only that, if taken the right way, there can be a certain male satisfaction in achieving the goals of the Fifties woman. The ads for cleansers, disinfectants, and deodorizers so popular in decades past and directed to women who were looking for some reward to their endless scrubbing and scouring, can indeed resonate with men.  I love to smell the scent of Swiffer when I finish cleaning the kitchen floor.  Fabreze gives me an accomplished feeling after I have cleaned and misted.  That deep blue, clean color of the water in my toilet bowl, swirling around, disinfecting as it deodorizes as it cleans is satisfying and validating.

Let’s not forget cooking.  Fortunately for us men, cooking – always a male preserve at the high end – has come back as an emblem of modern sophisticated life.  No more mac-‘n’-cheese, tuna casseroles, and Chef Boyardee spaghetti and meatballs. We househusbands have been given license to buy the best aged NY strips,the  freshest tile fish and cobia from the southern Atlantic, foie gras, Belgian endive, Iranian caviar, and the finest cold pressed olive oil, aged Balsamic vinegar, and organic herbs and spices…all in the interests of providing for our families.  What a scam!

So, here is a picture of the modern woman who has decided to give house-hubby a rest from his chores.  There she is with her long, luxuriant hair and short sheer dress inviting a peek underneath, ready to pop the roast into the oven. Yes dear, we say, thank you for helping out.  I’ve had such a hard day.

Couples need to get better at working through their little gripes with each other and come to a realization that when it comes to chores, men and women aren't that different. Both sexes don't like doing them, so just work out a little system at home that works for you and fits around your busy lives.

Don't let scrubbing the kitchen sink get in the way of why you married each other in the first place.

We men are very happy to work out ‘a little system at home that works for you’ because most women, ever vigilant about male transgression, are willing to trade long hours at a pissy job for cleaning a few toilets. Man, oh, man…have we ever gotten a great deal!

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