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Feminisms is a series of weekly feminist diaries. My fellow feminists and I decided to start our own for several purposes: we wanted a place to chat with each other, we felt it was important to both share our own stories and learn from others’, and we hoped to introduce to the community a better understanding of what feminism is about.

Needless to say, we expect disagreements to arise. We have all had different experiences in life, so while we share the same labels, we don’t necessarily share the same definitions. Hopefully, we can all be patient and civil with each other, and remember that, ultimately, we’re all on the same side.

I was going to do a big diary tonight on this subject drawing on all the things I've been reading and re-reading for my sociology of the family class. But it's been a long day and I'm tired, so this will be more rudimentary than I had hoped.

The gendering of household labor is often taken for granted (albeit in different ways) but is also a common subject of struggle within couples or families. So many household tasks are considered "women's work," even as women have become much more likely to work for pay outside the home. This raises so many issues. How should this work be divided? Should it matter who works more hours outside the home? Should it matter who earns more? If someone is going to reduce their career commitments to take care of things at home, who should it be or what should be the basis for the decision?

If there are children, is caring for them considered household labor equivalent to vacuuming, or should a parent excused from vacuuming due to his or her career commitments still be expected to spend time and energy caring for the children? Is one parent better suited to devote more time to children? If so, who? How is that decision made - is the presumption that it will be the mother?

All of these are enormously contested decisions, and ones that, let's face it, women bear the brunt of in the majority of families. I've been thinking about this while preparing my class, but I also can't help but think of it when I hear about a woman I know who, having been ordered to bed rest due to high blood pressure in the final weeks of pregnancy, was up vacuuming because if she didn't do it, it wasn't going to get done. (It's not like men are always the bad guys, of course. Another of my friends was on similar bed rest a couple months ago and her husband was absolutely doing the vacuuming, and bringing her food, and all the rest of it. But the thing is, women so often feel lucky for ending up with a man who will do these things, so much more often than men feel lucky for ending up with a woman who does equivalent work in the household. We shouldn't have to feel any more lucky than they do.)

Some books I'd suggest on any of this (most of which I'm sure I've suggested before):

Arlie Russell Hochschild and Anne Machung, The Second Shift
Francine Deutsch, Halving It All
Ann Crittenden, The Price of Motherhood
Mary Blair-Loy, Competing Devotions
Kathleen Gerson, Hard Choices and No Man's Land

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 06:42 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I resist your naturalization of the clean home. (24+ / 0-)

    And let's look at the buried normative presuppositions here: a house should be clean, and it's somehow deficient or deviant if one doesn't accept that premise.    

    I'm not lazy; I'm subversive.

    Did you....did you buy that?  

    "[G]lobalization is...increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through stronger capital markets" - Barack Obama

    by burrow owl on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 06:50:47 PM PDT

  •  The way it works in my family (10+ / 0-)

    is that, due to my status as a stay-at-home mom, the majority of the household chores fall to me. Personally, neither I nor my husband view it as "women's work", but merely as "the job of the person who is home all day. If I am ill or when I have worked at camp, my husband will gladly wash the dishes or do the laundry or any other household task that needs to be done. As far as raising our children goes, we view that particular "chore" as being one that we both need to do. When our youngest was a baby, my husband would quite often get up for the 2 AM feedings and bring the baby to me so she could nurse and then put her back to bed when she was finished. I must admit, though, that my husband considers yardwork to be the "man's job", but that's just because he's the only one who can get our finicky lawnmower to start and stay running.

    "Truth never damages a cause that is just."~~~Mohandas K. Gandhi -9.38/-6.26

    by LynneK on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 06:53:00 PM PDT

  •  As a working mother... (10+ / 0-)

    who was married for many years and then divorced, I was married into that old school thought that women took care of everything.  I think times are changing, and I can only speak of this in an anecdotal way.  

    I work in an office building that has a busy Pediatrician's Office.  When my children were young, you never saw a father bringing the children to the Pediatrician, well or sick.  Today, I see fathers coming alone in large numbers, well or sick, or fathers and mothers coming together.

    Today, I know more couples who sport a stay at home father than I ever knew of when 30 years ago.  Today, I know of more couples where the husband actually shares in more household duties, including cooking, cleaning, and even picking or carpooling children.

    On the other hand, I know a woman, with two young children, caught in the old fashioned type relationship I was caught in, and who is currently going through a divorce, where her husband actually brought home all the divorce paperwork and asked her to fill it out for him...

    Things never seem to happen quickly...

  •  If you would like notification of the Feminisms (11+ / 0-)

    diaries...you can join the Feminisms Google Group - which can also be used to share links...if people want to.

  •  Equal Division (9+ / 0-)

    I think we split it up pretty evenly, but I definitely have the "mother lode" with regards to our three foster children.

    I deal with the "foster" part of parenting - deal with social workers, paperwork, the bio parents, etc. . . .I started forwarding all the e-mails regarding the kids to my husband b/c I was walking around with all this knowledge that he didn't have.  It was such a huge relief.

    The division of work was much more contentious prior to having kids - I didn't care about a clean house.  Boy - have times changed.  If you don't keep the house clean every day, then it unravels into a pit of despair by the next morning.

    And he made more money than me this year but that hasn't always been the case.  I had to scale back my practice when the kids arrived.

    For me the key is to keep talking about it.  

    Will you help me raise $1000 for Jay Nixon who is running for Governor of Missouri.

    by aimeeinkc on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 06:58:49 PM PDT

  •  I don't think I can give an informed insight... (8+ / 0-)

    ...except to this:

    But the thing is, women so often feel lucky for ending up with a man who will do these things, so much more often than men feel lucky for ending up with a woman who does equivalent work in the household. We shouldn't have to feel any more lucky than they do.

    More and more, I am convinced that the process of coupling is generally quite random.  As such, I think that generally, we all feel "lucky" should we be fortunate in who we end up mating with.  And while you are certainly correct that on the subject of household labor, women will tend to feel "luckier" than men, I don't know that in general, men feel any less fortunate when paired with a good mate.

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:00:32 PM PDT

    •  Don't mean to sound cynical, but (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      decafdyke, tryptamine, Jay Elias, neroden

      I'll feel lucky when I find a guy who will take out the trash, manage the finances and has good dental insurance.

      That's my new definition of Mr. Right. Meet me at the church, baby!

      (Sorry folks: don't flame me. Still a feminist! Just a snarky & discouraged one.)

      Sweet are the uses of adversity...[Find] tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything. -Shakespeare, As You Like It

      by earicicle on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:49:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  OMG, I'd rant about this but I'm too tired (14+ / 0-)

    My aspirational reading is "Home Comforts," which outlines everything you need to know about keeping a house clean and organized, as well as how to go about housework systemically. Lots of good, sensible advice, delivered in a way that doesn't intimidate the reader. It works beautifully... IF everybody sticks to the system.

    I swear, I have to browbeat DH into doing house chores because he just doesn't perceive the mess due to his sublime and inexplicable ability to ignore WHAT OBVIOUSLY NEEDS TO BE DONE, whether it's litter or diaper duty or dish patrol.

    For us, there's very little men's or women's work (however, I won't touch the chainsaw and I'm not sure he's ever dusted) there are just many things around the house that need to get done if we are going to have any semblance of cleanliness or organization. DH doesn't see the need... you can always do a load of laundry, even if it means wearing mismatched socks (or no socks) while you do wash, evidently, as opposed to, I don't know, HAVING THEM READY AHEAD OF TIME?

    The bulk of the labor at home falls to me because I'm home more often and because the mess bugs me a hell of a lot more than it bothers him. And, uh, yeah, I'm not bitter about it.

    IGTNT: Our war dead. Their stories. Read "I Got the News Today."

    by monkeybiz on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:02:10 PM PDT

    •  I know how you feel, monkeybiz. (7+ / 0-)

      My husband is a little better, since he actually does the laundry, but there is a lot of other stuff that doesn't really get done.  I remember when we moved into the place we're in now, I said, "We should try to keep this place cleaner," and he agreed.  A few months later, I said, "I thought we agreed to keep this place cleaner?" and he said, "I thought you said you'd keep it cleaner."

      I got really frustrated and told him that I was going to write a list including the time periods between each time it needs to be done.  His reply: "That makes me feel like you're my mother.  You should just tell me when something needs to be done."  Nevermind the fact that telling him whenever anything needs to be done 1) makes me feel like his mother, and 2) is completely ineffective anyway because he always has some excuse of something else he's doing.

      At least I traded chores with him recently so that I don't have to do the shower anymore.  

      "If life has no purpose, if it's been given us for its own sake, we have no reason for living." -Tolstoy

      by tryptamine on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:12:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bwah! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine, realalaskan, Elise, Ice Blue

        And he said, "I thought you said you'd keep it cleaner."

        ROFLMAO.

        Martha Stewart has employees. I have the freakin' elves. I often say to myself, "How does he THINK his socks get matched and put away? The freakin' elves?"

        This discussion is so fraught with unspoken assumptions and expectations. One of the great things about "Home Comforts" is its lists of daily/weekly/seasonal chores, set out in a way that makes sense -- rather than being nagging. There's a time for everything. I want DH to understand that. It's not just my time, it's THE time because there is a schedule, as our great-grandmothers well knew. It's not a matter of "do it because I want it done this way" but "this chore happens this day because..."

        IGTNT: Our war dead. Their stories. Read "I Got the News Today."

        by monkeybiz on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:21:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, I tried (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          monkeybiz

          to keep track of who did what for awhile, in the hopes that I could show him how much more I did on a regular basis than him, but I realized that I was hopelessly biased. ;)

          I might have to make that list whether he likes it or not.

          "If life has no purpose, if it's been given us for its own sake, we have no reason for living." -Tolstoy

          by tryptamine on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:45:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Ever tried *not* matching his socks? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          monkeybiz, CSI Bentonville

          If he doesn't mind digging his socks out of a pile on the laundry room floor every morning, and wearing non-matching socks to work each day -- let him.

          If he does mind, well then you have a negotiating point.  :-)

          -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

          by neroden on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 09:52:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Heh (0+ / 0-)

            If he doesn't mind digging his socks out of a pile on the laundry room floor every morning, and wearing non-matching socks to work each day -- let him.

            That's kinda what I do each morning.

            In all fairness though, all of my socks are black.  So, it doesn't take all that long to dig out two that match each morning.  Or, at least two that match closely enough for me not to draw attention to myself.

    •  Common strategy men use. (6+ / 0-)

      I mean, not necessarily intentional strategy, but it's very very common that men use "not seeing" a mess to get out of cleaning it.

      •  In his case, it's for real (5+ / 0-)

        He is hyper-attentive in professional life. I think that when he comes home, his attention just kind of melts... although, in his defense, he's brilliant in emergencies. But if it's not on fire? Meh.

        When I get mad about the constant shedding, I start a s*** box. I don't put anything of his away, aside from laundry; I just throw it in the box. At some point, he gets so frustrated with it, he goes through and deals with the whole thing at once -- hopefully reinforcing the point that he should have been dealing with the little messes all along.

        I'm trying to teach our toddler about "clean up as you go," using Daddy as an object lesson. Now every morning, our son tells my husband "Don't make a mess today, Daddy! Clean up your messes!"

        I always say that I want to raise a son so that someday some woman will be amazed that he puts his socks in the hamper without being asked...

        IGTNT: Our war dead. Their stories. Read "I Got the News Today."

        by monkeybiz on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:30:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Using toddlers to train men...Hmm, I see a (4+ / 0-)

          book proposal brewing here, monkeybiz! You may be on to the method that provides a break through for millions of American women. I see Today Show appearances, with Matt Lauer blushing in recognition, as you demo your training tips on him with a three year old.

          Any book editors out there?

          Sweet are the uses of adversity...[Find] tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything. -Shakespeare, As You Like It

          by earicicle on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 08:05:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Here's the thing, though. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          monkeybiz, CSI Bentonville

          Maybe he actually prefers piling it up and dealing with it all at once.  Have you asked?

          After much trying, I discovered I function a hell of a lot better if I do everything that way (in humungous, widely spaced chunks).  So does my mother, actually.

          -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

          by neroden on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 09:54:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Or intentionally doing such a bad job of it ... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine, neroden, blindyone

        ...that his gf/spouse finally surrenders and does it herself.

        The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

        by Meteor Blades on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 08:06:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  From Shel Silverstein (0+ / 0-)

          How Not To Have
          To Dry The Dishes

          If you have to dry the dishes
          (Such an awful, boring chore)
          If you have to dry the dishes
          ('Stead of going to the store)
          If you have to dry the dishes
          And you drop one on the floor--
          Maybe they won't let you
          Dry the dishes anymore.

          IGTNT: Our war dead. Their stories. Read "I Got the News Today."

          by monkeybiz on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 12:02:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The Queen of Clean is much less anal. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, monkeybiz

      She tries to show you how easy it is to keep your house clean.

      People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election. --Otto von Bismarck

      by Ice Blue on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:26:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If it makes you (5+ / 0-)

      feel better, I'm the slob...my husband has threatened divorce over the dirty butter knives left on the counter (and the counter right over the dishwasher no less). But unfortunately, I've also subverted him, I'm afraid. When we first met, I was still a slob, and he was a tidy ex-military man. No longer...he says he was beaten down and that explains why he can't hang up his clothes. Here I was, thinking that I'd found someone who would actually clean up after me...sigh...

      After the kids arrived (and I guess many kids are generally untidy, but at least one of ours seems to have inherited some serious pack-rattedness from...oh, my husband would say me...) it got worse...

      But at the end of the day, while there are some things that we divide up by skill and inclination, I do think that we divide things pretty equally (Mr. JMS might argue he actually does more--and I think he's actually more versatile as a "housekeeper" in that I'm a better cook and he's a better handy-person, but his cooking is fine, while my fixing skills are poor). What's helped us specifically too is that we both work about the same amount of hours (full time, but not insane) and over the past few years have made approximately the same amount of money, and neither of us came into the marriage with any kind of set in stone gender roles. Since we're already structurally "equals", we don't have to come up with a self-imposed system to try to make things even out. And since neither of us is in  a ridiculously time consuming (though likewise not ridiculously high paying) job, our lifestyle isn't horribly stressful or hectic.

      Barack Obama will only become president if enough people pay attention, so pay attention, dammit!

      by JMS on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:27:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, the basic principle of households is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      monkeybiz, CSI Bentonville

      The person who finds a problem most upsetting is usually the one who ends up dealing with it.

      This actually makes sense.  And it's not inherently sexist.  If you've ever lived in a fraternity or commune or dormitory or with a roommate, or in any other shared living environment, that is pretty much the basic way things end up.  Who did the cleaning in "The Odd Couple"?... the one who cared.

      However, in a healthy, loving relationship, both partners will do some things for the other one's comfort, even though they don't care for themselves.  You have to negotiate which ones are important enough to make a deal on.  Perhaps there's something -- possibly non-household-chore -- which he cares about a lot more than you do, but which you do for him.  Going on strike is one way to start the negotiations....

      -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

      by neroden on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 09:50:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  when it comes to meals (6+ / 0-)

    both can prep meals. if one is a terrible cook, he or she can "cook" prepared meals or take out. I like to cook homemade foods, but there are so many ways that you can "cheat" on that to save time by buying good store bought items that you doctor up. :)

  •  In our house... (13+ / 0-)

    ...it comes down to three things: 1) who likes doing what task; 2) whose health is threatened by what task; and 3) who has time for what task.

    So, for instance, I do almost all the cooking in our house because I enjoy cooking. My fiancee does all the floor scrubbing because my history of leg injuries makes that task very painful for me. Laundry is done at least once a week and depends on who has a spare minute to get the machines going.

    Ultimately, I spend more hours doing housework than my fiancee, largely because cooking is a daily task, but neither of us really cares. We're also well aware that we're weird in that neither of us could care less about traditional gender roles.

  •  OK- prioriies here.... (8+ / 0-)

    a woman I know who, having been ordered to bed rest due to high blood pressure in the final weeks of pregnancy, was up vacuuming because if she didn't do it, it wasn't going to get done.

    Good god, what about about a clean floor is more important than having a healthy delivery????

    On the down side of being divorced, I can never again rail against the male in the house for not keeping up with household chores, 'cause I have sort of decided that clean floors, etc are not all that important anyway since I have to clean them with no help in sight.

    Found: A Dem who can win PA-18 in 2008! Beth Hafer for Congress

    by AntKat on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:10:12 PM PDT

  •  In my experience, the person who is most bothered (10+ / 0-)

    by messes is the one who does the most cleaning.

    I don't care about the dust bunnies behind my toilet.  Anyone who does is welcome to come clean my bathroom floor.

    People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election. --Otto von Bismarck

    by Ice Blue on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:21:13 PM PDT

  •  I grew up in a house where both of my parents did (8+ / 0-)

    housework. My mom was a stay at home mom, and my dad worked full time. However, he never hesitated to help around the house, and often did a wide variety of chores without being asked to do them. He is always very thankful for everything that she does around the house and she is always very thankful for the fact that he is very neat and good about helping out. Growing up, I never once saw my parents fight about household chores.

    It wasn't until I was older that I realized that wasn't the norm.

    IGTNT: Remembering our fallen soldiers

    by a girl in MI on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:29:15 PM PDT

    •  How my dad mowed the lawn: {"My mom's name"}!!!, (6+ / 0-)

      Mow the lawn! While lying on the couch on a Sunday afternoon. Not so much barked or bellowed, just stated as a mattered of fact. He sure as hell wasn't going to do it, or any other chore.

      And my brother learned from the best. Made himself scarce when any chore had to be done. Always had "homework" to do the instant my mom asked him to lift a finger.

      My dad did work 2 jobs, but that was his choice, not economic necessity. Second job was an ego thing.

      My mom worked (economic need), raised 3 kids plus my dad. Oh, and did I mention the Ivy League PhD obtained when women weren't allowed as undergrads and grudgingly accepted as grad students? While preggers most of the time?

      She was and is a feminist rockstar. Who kept a damned clean house, despite her raucous and usually uncooperative brood.

      Sweet are the uses of adversity...[Find] tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything. -Shakespeare, As You Like It

      by earicicle on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:56:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mrs. RA and I (7+ / 0-)

    split up the chores in no particular fashion. She works three days a week as self employed professional. I work five days a week as a skilled tradesman. We both share kitchen chores and I cook as much as she does and clean up after myself in the kitchen. I hate leaving a trail of dirty pans behind me so I clean as I go. She generally does the laundry on one of the days she doesn't work outside the home. I do the bathrooms and we both vacuum but she does it more as she has more time at home. We both garden. It works and is a harmonious relationship.

    Gotta go, time to unload the dishwasher and start supper. King salmon, homemade pasta (my specialty) with fresh pesto (one of her many specialties), and steamed broccoli.

    The great tragedy of Science, the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. T. H. Huxley

    by realalaskan on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:39:06 PM PDT

  •  i feel lucky (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, Elise, CSI Bentonville

    for ending up with a woman who's far better about cleaning than i.

    and i'm better about cooking.

    and laundry is two blocks away so we do that together, every other weekend.

    and we both have a healthy tolerance for cat hair and clutter.  that would be a dealbreaker, if i were still dating today.

    www.beyondmarriage.org

    by decafdyke on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:57:33 PM PDT

  •  I think one means of making changes ... (11+ / 0-)

    ...for the future in the housework divide is for boys as well as girls to be taught how to do all the household chores rather than divvying them up the "old-fashioned way."

    Boys in every family should not only be taught how to take out the trash, but also to do those "girl" jobs such as vacuuming and dusting, washing the laundry, the dishes, the toilets, the floors. They should be taught to iron and do at least basic sewing repairs. Every boy should learn how to cook. They should be taught how to do these things right. And some of these tasks ought to be part of their daily/weekly routine.

    And every girl ought to learn how to use a hammer and a saw, and change the car oil, and tires, and run the lawn-mower (as long as there's a lawn to mow) and whatever other "boy" tasks there are to be taught.

    I think this would go a long way toward making for a fairer division of labor when a partnership comes about. But even before then, it would make life easier for casual roommates of whatever sex.

    The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. - Frederick Douglass

    by Meteor Blades on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 08:02:54 PM PDT

    •  amen (5+ / 0-)

      i came to a version of this belief at age about 8.  so around that time i was tagging along my father trying to convince him to let me push the lawn mower when i got a blade of grass embedded in my eyeball and incurred significant medical bills.  that didn't help the cause in my own family.  oh well.

      young girls should also go ahead and get comfortable with the technological devices that help women do the stuff that is typically physically easier for big testosterone-laden types...like rubber jar openers, stepladders, etc.

      www.beyondmarriage.org

      by decafdyke on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 08:06:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Absolutely. (0+ / 0-)

      I was raised by being taught to do pretty much all the household chores.

      -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

      by neroden on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 09:59:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I sent my eighteen year old son (5+ / 0-)

    off to a fine university on the other side of the country not as well prepared in the practical arts of life as I might have. His college polished off a few of the rough edges, gave him a lot of confidence and taught him how to clean up a bathroom like a pro. They had a part-time job option called "dorm crew" where you stay behind after the semester is over and get the resident halls clean for the next term. Probably not a skill for the resume but definitely a plus in the whole scheme of things.

    "though we rush ahead to save our time- we are only what we feel" Neil Young- 1968

    by blindyone on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 08:18:41 PM PDT

    •  If you can clean a dorm bathroom... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, Elise, neroden, blindyone

      ...you can do anything.

      Having lived in a dorm, the idea of having to clean the bathroom of one of them scares the crap out of me.

      •  Really, I mucked out my horse's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WayneNight

        stall as a kid, and dealt with enough diapers in my lifetime. I can almost shut off my sense of smell when necessary. But the thought of cleaning up after college kids... no thanks. The pay was outstanding though. My son is very practical sometimes.

        "though we rush ahead to save our time- we are only what we feel" Neil Young- 1968

        by blindyone on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 09:21:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was at American University... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blindyone

          ...for a semester in the fall of 2003.  That was the year a bad hurricane hit the east coast, and much of D.C. lost power for days.

          Tenley Campus, where AU keeps the "Washington Semester" students, was in one of the areas that lost power.  The bathrooms in the buildings on Tenley, or at least the building that I was in, have no windows.  Without power, they were pitch black, at all times of day.

          Now, imagine, if you will, an entire floor of college aged men who don't have enough light to actually hit the toilet when they piss.  Also imagine, if you will, many of them coming back late Friday and Saturday evenings, and doing this drunk.

          Yeah.  A friend of mine wondered why the floor was "so wet" the first time he walked into the bathroom during the blackout.  He was in his bare feet, and quite horrified when he figured out why.

          I always felt bad for university janitors.  That semester raised my sympathy for them to a whole new level, though.

  •  Feminist dreams turned to dustballs (5+ / 0-)

    I tried really, really hard in two longterm relationships to find a fair way to divide housework.  Truth is, I'm a slob and I don't really care about a neat house.  Somehow still manged to hook up with 2 guys who were even more oblivious than me to the mess.  So I either cleaned or nagged.

    Gender roles are still strongly influential. Better than in my mom's generation, but still a long way to go.

    •  Neatness (4+ / 0-)

      I'm a slob and I don't really care about a neat house.  Somehow still manged to hook up with 2 guys who were even more oblivious than me to the mess.

      I don't know if it's somehow caused by social factors or what, but most of the guys I know are much more oblivious to "mess" and "disorganization" than most of the women I know, even the ones who are supposedly "slobs."

      When I was moving out of my dorm at the end of one semester, the RA had to come in to talk to me for some reason (I honestly can't remember what about).  She looked around and asked me if I "ever bothered cleaning in here."

      Thing is... I thought I was cleaning, once a week.  And, I thought the room was neat enough to be tolerable.

  •  The only thing I miss about living with (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, Elise, neroden, WayneNight

    my first husband is that the man is a fine cook.

    I don't miss a thing about living with my second one.  He couldn't see any reason why anybody sane would want to spend time in a kitchen - and if what I made wasn't identical to how it tasted the first time, by the fourth time he was swearing that I knew he'd always hated whatever it was.

    Neither one of them ever wanted to do any chores.  Although the first could fix things if he had to.  The second barely knew what end of a hammer to hang onto - to be fair, he did do his own laundry, never once mine in the nearly 12 years we were together, but he did do his own.

    The really annoying thing about both of them was their determination that I be exactly like their mothers.  My second mother-in-law is a lovely woman, but I don't want to be her, and I won't talk about the first because I would start frothing at the mouth over how she treated my ex.

  •  It's a bit of a cop out... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine

    ...but a lot of this is going to depend on the couple.  Everyone needs to come up with an arrangement that works for them.  Ideally, though, I guess both individuals should be flexible, willing to compromise, and capable of doing those things.  

    Capability is a bit of a problem.  I think the capacity to clean, or vacuum, or prepare meals, or to at least do those things well, is often missing from many men. I think socialization plays a role in this.  Growing up, many men just aren't expected to do certain things.  This makes those things difficult to learn when we're older.

    I myself am not happy at all with my cooking skills.  Now and then, I've been trying ot learn how to make various kinds of foods.  But, it always feels awkard.  

    Cleaning is another area in which I "fall down."  I can do it when I need to, but my "mess" tolerance is fairly high, likely much higher than most women.  Also, I've noticed that what I feel is a "good" job isn't neccissarily what female members of my family feel is a "good job."  Now and then, if I help my Mom out by vacuuming the floor, she just ends up doing it over, even though I think I did "okay."  My Dad sometimes has the same problem.

    I foresee some of these things as potential problems in a future relationship, as I expect that, when I am involved in something, my significant other will probably be working, and more than likely a professional.  Ideally, I should be able to help out... But I can see potential issues arising if I'm awkward at cooking, I suck at housework, and our definitions of "clean" don't quite jive.

    Now that I've got that off my chest: Stop yakking and mop my floor!  Now!

    •  Well, in one way it's not a copout: (0+ / 0-)

      The implication of what you write is that couples should talk about these issues, explicitly, negotiate, and make deals, rather than making assumptions.  And that's not a copout.  That's a complete change in the way most people view relationships.

      -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

      by neroden on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 10:00:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Want a Wife. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, monkeybiz, Elise, neroden, maryru

    Many of you are probably already familiar with this classic, but just in case...(Why I Want A Wife)

  •  Prospective First Lady of Taiwan Sets Example? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Super Grover

    Taiwan's prospective first lady. Career. Family.

    http://www.iht.com/...

    Interesting to compare Asia and USA.

    Best Diary of the Year? http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/2/23/03912/3990

    by LNK on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 09:36:49 PM PDT

  •  History (0+ / 0-)

    I don't have the exact citation but one of the great early suffragettes in England was absolutely certain that after she died... someday... women would be granted the right to vote..... But, they say, never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that  middle-class women would not have any household help.

    Best Diary of the Year? http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/2/23/03912/3990

    by LNK on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 10:38:51 PM PDT

  •  we clean, or we wallow in it (0+ / 0-)
    Neither DH nor I are good with clutter.  Good thing.  If one of us was, we'd kill the other.  We used to have cleaning help twice a month -- and went through the hell of "cleaning before the cleaners."  You know that drill.  Then one day I asked my son to pick something up.  He must have been about 4 or 5. "The cleaners will get it," he said.  Something primal arose in me.  No frickin' way is my kid growing up thinking somebody else picks up after him.  Soon thereafter I canceled the cleaners.  Ever since we've either cleaned it or wallowed in it.  We all know which basic jobs are ours and we dive in and do 'em once every few weeks, whether they need it or not ;-).  That, along with the responsibility of cleaning (several times a year) a private school my kids attended, has made my kids pretty good cleaners.  They hate doin' it, but they knuckle under and git 'er done.  And then we all go, gee, it's so nice having a clean house.  Why don't we try to keep it that way?  But of course we never do.

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