Reading through some of my notes this morning I was drawn to a passage in my politics book, (we’re on ideology at the moment) about Simone de Beauvoir and her book, The Second Sex, where she suggested that the female body made them amenable to being constructed as a man’s ‘other’. Well I was thinking about this, and I concluded that you could say exactly the same about a man’s body, it really all depends on who’s on top!!
Now, for those of you who may not know this, Simone was the long time love of Jean Paul Sartre who wrote The Age of Reason. If there is anyone out there who ever got to the end of this book, then stand up and take a bow because you deserve a gold medal for endurance. I have tried on several occasions to read this and maybe, it’s the practical side of me, or something but I thought this was the most overblown pretentious piece of navel gazing I ever had to endure.
The main character has got his girlfriend pregnant, now this character is not 16 or 18, this guy is, as far as memory serves, around 30, he’s running around trying to get her an abortion and all I could think was ‘grow up and take care of your responsibility, because if you weren’t prepared to face the consequences of your actions then you should have kept it in your pants’. To me this was all a non issue, it was just a story about a man trying to avoid the reality that it was time to grow up which unfortunately IS the reality for 90% of the women in this country.
A friend recently sent me an email extolling all the virtues of Thomas Jefferson and all that he achieved in his life and all the way down reading it, I was thinking, ‘ Well, that’s very interesting, he was able to do all that because there was obviously a woman at home who did all the cooking and cleaning and childcare, leaving him free to think and act. I bet he never cleaned the toilet in his life!’ Which is not to take anything away from how brilliant he was, but just how brilliant could we ALL be if we were freed from the drudgery of housework?
So, on the question of domestic drudgery and gender equality in the home, here is the argument as to why it should be shared by EVERYONE! I call it the ‘Everyone principle’, well why not, I can be as pretentious as Sartre when I need to.
EVERYONE lives in the house, EVERYONE uses the facilities so it’s the responsibility of EVERYONE to care for and maintain them. That’s it, plain and simple.
‘If only it were!’, I hear you cry. Now men will argue that the women stand over them and criticise how they do things, fair enough, I accept that does happen. But the thing about housework is this, we’ve been doing it for many more years than you, and there is a method to it which we have perfected from all the practice we have had.
So, in order to stop this argument, here’s my advice for women, SHOW them how it’s done, don’t just tell them to do it. Show them the method and don’t criticise them if they don’t get it right first time, just recognise that they need MORE practice. For men, just LET her show you how it’s done, it just a job that needs doing, it’s not a threat to your masculinity (whatever that may be) and remember it’s your home too, so take care of it.
By, the way this advice applies to the children as well, they are quite capable of doing some housework, within reason and depending on age. I mean, tie a couple of dusters to the hands and knees of that crawling baby and get the floor polished as they go along, simple!
Just use your imagination and maybe some day, we can all grow up to be brilliant.