Was housework taken from men or was it given to women?
Women like me and you might find ourselves struggling not to let our men pick up straws. We spoil them to the point where they wouldn’t want to be seen dead hanging out our underwear on washing lines. It would make them look like ‘Sissies’ (masculinity intruding with femininity). Instead we applaud them when they do ‘manly things’ and fight them to give us a hand with the garbage bin.
How did we come to the conclusion that women are house goddesses and men are qualified to sit and watch football and cricket? Worse still, men are allowed to perform the most popular disappearing act by vanquishing themselves to the local bookies or pub and get away with it. Who should we blame?
Some men do try to help, don’t get me wrong but it’s not a pleasant situation, when your white laundry turns to pink and he doesn’t understand why that happens. As my dear friend said, ‘If you want to make “tie and dye”, then let your husband do the laundry.’ For a peace of mind you would ban him from every form of housework. Of course when we think of ‘housework’ we conjure up the image of cleaning, cooking, shopping, dirty laundry and household maintenance. Naturally these tasks are pointing at women and not men dusting cobwebs. Straight away men are excluded from performing housework and women are handcuffed to the kitchen sink with the keys down the plughole.
I’m not surprise considering different roles are being made appropriate for men and women. Evidently, from a very young age, Boys are being taught to play with toys such as action man, guns, cars, and football, while girls are being given dolls and pushchairs, washing machines, irons, and vacuum cleaners. The gender division is evidently clear in terms of colour. Try dressing a baby boy in pink.
This could be one of the main reasons why housework is one thing many women have in common, regardless of age, class, marital, or financial status. Whether women are involved in paid work outside the home or not, it is true to say that, a considerable amount of hours are spent each day working in paid and unpaid domestic labour. But how can we get to the root of the gender division and housework?
Most women are being taught how to do the domestic chores and look after our men. “You need to learn to wash your dirty clothes by hand so when you find a husband you’ll know how to wash his shirt collar.” That was my Grandmother’s voice by the way. As far as I can remember, like many of us, we were brought up to serve men in the sense that learning to wash cook and clean was a must. If you get too heavy handed and put too much salt in the pot (the cooking) you’ll get an ear bashing about how you’ll let your husband down. “You better learn to throw salt in pots otherwise man is going to hit you in the head.” That statement alone put the fear of God in me. When we get to a mature age, we start looking for that man so we can provide the answer to his every need. No wonder I opt to ironing my partner’s socks and ties.
There’s no doubt that many of us can relate to the feeling of wanting to learn how to cook in order to serve our husbands when we finally leave home and tie the knot. Failure to learn means no man would consider marring us. Paw-cooking the rice was a major embarrassment for me at the age of sixteen. I almost had a nervous breakdown with the thought that no man on earth was going to look at me, let alone marry me, knowing that I was useless at ironing, washing and cooking. This type of feelings did lower my self-esteem and reduced my confidence. I can remember envying my best friend when I’d discovered that she was more domesticated than I was. Since then, I swear by my map bucket that I would do my best on the domestic front to impress the opposite sex.
Nowadays, competition in the kitchen and the bedroom is high amongst women to see who is more qualified to keep the man. This push him further away from the domestic front and the sexual division of labour may seem normal to him.
But all is not lost. The current Global economic crises are affecting our lives in such a way that many are losing jobs and life luxuries, so we are driven to spend more time at home with the family. This is our chance to teach our men to be the head of the housework. Give men aprons and dusters, and if we are lucky, within the eyes of the Credit crunch, there is a fat chance that we could turn our men into domestic gods.