A male friend of mine recently commented on his facebook status that he was currently 'doing the ironing' to which he was inundated with responses, particularly from his male peers chastising him for this confession. Comments in regards to his manhood, or lack of it, comments in relation to thumbs and being under them. In fact all manner of derogatory terms were fired at him. For what, admitting that sometimes he likes to make life a little easier for his partner and help with some of the domestic chores? Which leads me onto the question, why in this 21st century world are household tasks still seen as 'women's work'?
I am solely responsible for all housework in our home, unless I can twist Gavin's arm when it comes to the washing up. And he will, on occasion, like he did last night, offer to do it without any persuasion. However all other tasks from the unrelenting piles of washing to the never ending round of hoovering falls firmly in my camp.
I have had many conversations with him regarding this situation. You know the universal conversation that normally starts on a Saturday morning when you are completely knackered from the weeks events. You come down to find that yet again the house is a mess and you feel like you might be in danger of drowning in a sea of housework. So you turn to your loving partner for support and are met with a barrage of excuses as to why they couldn't possibly drag themselves away from 'Soccer Am' to help you tidy up. At this you find your temper starting to rise and you wonder once again, for the hundredth time this year, why it always falls to you?
I admit that I am currently unemployed, so not contributing to the household income and I do realise, having formerly worked, that the task of going to work all day is a tiring one and that the last thing you feel like doing once you walk through the door is starting yet more work, housework or otherwise. However I myself, am full-time childminder to our 13 month little girl and this job is by no means easy! So where do the lines get drawn when it comes to what is fair and expected and what is just going above and beyond?
Do we assume certain roles from a very young age? Or do we, as parents, shape young minds into thinking that when it comes to housework woman must do everything whilst men can do nothing? We have come on somewhat in comprasion to previous generations, at least now our menfolk will occassionally don the rubber gloves and tackle the Kilimanjaro of washing up in the sink. A recent radio interviewee, whose name escapes me at the moment, commented on the fact that his dad thought he was being helpful if he closed a cupboard door! However we are still, in some households (mine included), a long way from equality for all when it comes to the household chores!
So who is to blame? Well that's the tricky part really isn't it, because personally I think we, woman kind, are to blame for this mess we now find ourselves in. Mothers to be exact! We women raise our sons and it would seem are sending them out into the world ill prepared for the task of taking care of a house. So I finish with a plea to all mothers and mothers to be, teach your children this, (and in particular your sons) how to turn on a hoover, what the strange dials on the washing machine really do, the importance of emptying the bin when it is in danger of spilling onto the floor and most importantly that we are all equal in creation and that includes doing the housework!!!
P.S To my friend, the ironer, I say 'bravo' and keep up the good work! You are a rare breed and a better person than I am. The fact that you actually bother to iron when I can neither find the time nor the inclination is an inspiration!