Monday, May 16, 2005

Something else which is all our own fault...

The charming Yvonne Roberts in the Grauniad reports that working mothers are putting in up to 125 hours per week holding down jobs as well as taking on nearly all the housework and child-care and in many cases preparing meals for the men of the household too. However she says these women "have nobody to blame but themselves". All they need to do is "Do less - and make sure that what is done is properly valued at current market prices." So its now a woman's own fault if her husband doesn't do much housework? Does she really expect women to let their families go hungry for a few weeks until he realises he should probably go to the supermarket? The article is full of enthusiasm for how "It's not difficult to end the rule of 'Supermum!' and bring about a revolution", yet there doesn't seem to be any actual practical advice on how that can be achieved.

There's no doubt that a better model for division on labour in the home would benefit many women. Seems to me however that the problem needs to be approached in a way that doesn't leave the toilet uncleaned and festering with germs for six months at a time while young children are around. One minute she is talking about the plight of single mothers and the next she adds that all they need to do is "let him wear the pinny."

But then for some reason the women (who can blame Yvonne? She probably has kids to feed too!) who publish this sort of preachy misogynist nonsense always get a lot more column inches than those who highlight the real issues. I guess newpaper editors must feel more comfortable reading about how women's problems are all their own fault...


handdrummer said...

We men can be, well, a bit thick at times.

Back in the 80's, during my married days, it took me some time to understand what fair distribution of household labor was. I had always lived alone up to that point and just did what ever needed doing at whatever moment it came to me to do it.

My wife didn't ask for help and I felt as if I was intruding in some subtle unknown way when I just went ahead and did some of the work she was doing. I was afraid perhaps that she'd take it as a criticism, I guess.

Odd, I know, and certainly clueless as well.

Of course she wanted my fair share of help for the work to be done. Eventually, we resolved running the household in an equitable way, but only because we made an effort to do so.

And there I'd been going along thinking that I was a strongly motivated feminist of long standing.

Lesson learned.

The culture memes are strong and their claws are driven deep. So deep we don't even feel the sting sometimes.

Cruella said...

Those people who acknowledge that they have some hard-wired pre-formed expectations in their head are a lot closer to getting things right than those who pretend nothing's wrong and carry on as normal. the best way to sort that sort of thing out has to be - as you discovered - to sit down and talk about it. I have no real leg to stand on since I've never been married and on both occassions I've lived with a guy I've worked full time and they part time so they've done most of the housework. Now they're both long gone and I have a cleaner!