I was getting my hair colored at the beauty school yesterday. The students always do a nice job and it's certainly affordable, but the client pays in time. It can take close to three hours all told, although most of that time is just sitting in a chair waiting for the chemistry to happen. So I usually remember to BMOB (Bring My Own Book) -- but yesterday I forgot. With a sense of foreboding, I surveyed the literature piled up around the coffee urn. Fortunately, amongst the stained and tattered copies of old Us and Today's Spa, I found a current issue of Esquire. Actual reading material. Score!
I hadn't read Esquire for a long while. I can't tell you what a relief it was, after a year sounding the depths of the "manosphere", to read a mainstream "men's lifestyle" magazine. I scanned the issue: the return of the "cocktail cuff" (whatever that is), a lame joke attributed to a beautiful woman I've never heard of, a Prada suit made of flower-printed brocade that maybe Jared Leto could pull off -- the usual fare. Then I stumbled on a column by Stephen Marche, whom I'd also never heard of, but which caught my eye since he seemed to be the magazine's resident "gender" expert. It was an interesting article about what a freak show media depictions of masculinity have become. I really wanted to tear it out and take it home, but I restrained myself.
When I got home and read more of Marche, I learned he had written an article a few months ago, "The Case For Filth," that had got bloggers a-bloggin'. I'm late to the party as always, but the topic is one that got me thinking since I often hear women bitching and moaning about how their husbands slack off in the house cleaning department.
Basically Marche's thesis was that the fact that wives are still doing more housekeeping than their husbands is primarily a matter of the women's choice. And the solution to the endless wrangling over who does the lion's share of household chores is for both parties to relax, kick back, and embrace a bit of mess.
Frankly, I agree with him. Of course I'll admit that I'm a perfectly lousy housekeeper. Because I'm a spinster, I can't really blame the fact that my house is in a chronic state of disarray on my husband + children. (So I blame my dogs, LOL.)
The fact is, I don't give a damn. There are two tasks I will never have time to do: ironing and dusting. I rather subscribe to Quentin Crisp's philosophy, that after seven years, a house just can't get dirtier. And seriously, folks, if I can't run it through the dishwasher or the washing machine, I don't want it.
I do have a "zero growth" policy: for every book, every can of food, every piece of clothing I acquire, I try to toss out something that takes up an equivalent amount of space. And I like to be able to locate my stuff, so I maintain highly structured piles of crap. My house isn't so much cluttered as it is just plain dirty.
On the other hand, I do like to be personally clean, so I have no problem keeping up with laundry and washing dishes. But everything else can go to hell.
BTW, although I'm not married, I have cohabited with various people over the years. And we never argued about housekeeping. Once in a while, I would pick up a boyfriend's sock and throw it in the laundry pile, and if he wanted it washed, he knew where it was.
This laissez-faire attitude could be a problem in the future though. My girlfriend is kind of a neat freak. If we ever move in together, I'm going to have to clean up my act, or else we're going to have to move into adjoining units in a duplex (and I probably don't have to tell you that I favor the latter option).
Anyway, poor Stephen Marche! The ladies really took after him. First, Amanda Macotte took him to task. Another female blogger pitied his wife. Some women railed, Think of the children! Think of the germs! It went on and on: Obviously, this topic touches quite a nerve -- a source of angst and endless wrangling that I, as a barren spinster, am blithely oblivious to.
Here's my take on Housework: it's kind of like Sex. With sex, the one with the least desire controls the show, whereas with housework, the one who is least fastidious gets to opt out. This isn't so much a man/woman conflict as it is a slob/clean freak conflict.
I must say that I thought the study Marche cites that suggests women who out-earn their spouses do MORE domestic tasks rather interesting. And it supports my theory that part of the reason wives continue to do the lion's share of household duties is because they don't really want to forfeit their "traditional feminine" roles.