"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 - How Men Game The System To Their Advantage

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  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 quite surprising that anyone would prefer a world of backbiting, petty jealousies, endless, repetitious meetings, bullying bosses, restrictive policies, bureaucracy, and 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 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, cleaned dirty diapers, cleaned, scoured, cooked, dusted, arranged and organized, ironed, and scrubbed all to please their husbands.

This may well have been once true, 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.

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.  Why challenge patriarchy 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 far worse delinquencies.  A man who goes against type, who rejects conventional roles, and uncomplainingly and willingly becomes a house husband immediately becomes a feminist hero.
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 – women's fear 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.

The greatest weakness of women of this modern generation is their insistence on sharing household tasks.  They have conflated the total subjugation of their mothers and grandmothers to 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.

Fortunately for men, cooking – always a male preserve at the high end – has come back as an emblem of modern sophisticated life and enlightened masculinity.  House husbands have been given license to buy the best aged meat, the  freshest tile fish and cobia, 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 demonstrating a less patriarchal and more participatory male side.

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.
Men are quite 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 an often unpleasant and demanding job for cleaning a few toilets.  What a great deal!

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