It was magical. Sunlight made the mountain snow sparkle and the only sound was boots crunching. Boots crunching and people talking.
Three women were chatting – intelligent, successful women enjoying the stunning Scottish scenery, respite from the festive round and the chance to climb a hill.
What were these women discussing?
They might have been talking about how they could make the world a better place. They may have been telling fascinating and hilarious stories. Maybe they were recounting the times they’d done something amazing, or the next carefully planned twist in their careers.
And there was a bit of that. But again and again their conversation turned away from the wide world and their place in it and came round to men and the things they do (and mostly don’t) do.
They don’t, it seems, do their fair share (or even half) of the boring domestic things.
They don’t, apparently, take charge of very much if there’s someone else to do it.
They won’t, evidently, see chaos and bring order.
They can’t, when ill, suffer the discomfort alone.
But that’s just the start of it.
Now these three women would count themselves as feminists (certainly the one I can speak for does), they’d also fight hard for equality on other fronts too. They’re modern, creative and right-thinking (whatever that is).
So what’s going on? They know that ‘traditional’ gender roles are bunk, that big boys can cry if they want to and girls don’t just wanna have fun, they want their voices heard and not to be objectified.
Why then are they still having the same conversations and experiencing the same
frustrations white hot rages and yet still picking up the stuff of the floors of their homes more often than anyone else does?
Have they chosen their mates badly and should have plumped for a more enlightened chap? But their other halves (the one I know fairly well anyway) talk like a man perfectly qualified to walk around in a ‘this is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirt.
Are they just dishing us a big fat fib and hiding a blubbery heap of misogyny behind a lot of right-on speak? Do they really secretly wish we’d just shut up about it and get on with the dishes?
Can we allow them to skulk off to the man caves beloved of the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From The Kitchen subscribers? I don’t believe we are really such different creatures on account of our reproductive equipment. It can’t be true, can it?
Everyone hates housework, but women end up doing most of it. (Source: Entirely unscientific survey of lots of people I know.) And I’ve run out of ideas for how to fix this.
I tried ignoring the work until it was done fairly. Result – squalor.
I tried discussing the work and organising a rota. Result – either a bad case of bossy headmistress or squalor.
I tried rewarding domestic effort with sexual favours. Result – bewildered husband.
I tried reminding. Result – I was nagging.
I tried setting an example. Result – I was doing it all.
I tried dropping hints. Result – I was doing it all.
I tried dropping heavier hints. Result – I was nagging.
I’m tired of the conversations, I don’t want to nag but I don’t want to live in squalor. Please help, I’m out of ideas.
I want to be a feminist and maybe make the world a better place, but how can I if I do most of the housework?
(PS I know there are some men out there who do their share and more. If this is one of the two of you, maybe you can shed some light on what’s going on here and what we can do about it.)