Thursday 27 October 2016

Tidy up? Wise up instead - should women be more like men

It's a truth universally acknowledged that men don't do housework. Eilis O'Hanlon doesn't blame them one bit

Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 30/05/2016 | 02:30

Eilis O'Hanlon says doing housework is thankless.
Eilis O'Hanlon says doing housework is thankless.
Eilis O'Hanlon.

Being a woman, I'm supposed to enjoy nagging men about how little housework they do. You know the sort of thing. Magazines and newspapers are always banging on about it. Some feminist spends a thousand words complaining that her fella doesn't pick up his socks, or clean the sink, or run a hoover over the carpet on the stairs, and everyone's supposed to agree that it's the most awful injustice since that mad woman was forced to fling herself under the king's horse to protest about the lack of female volleyball on Sky Sports.

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Or something.

It's one of the fiercest front lines in the age-old battle of the sexes. One woman in Romania got so annoyed with her husband, when he refused to help around the house on International Women's Day this year, that she ripped off his testicles with her bare hands.

As you do.

If you're mental.

The thing is, though, that I don't blame men for not wanting to do any housework. Why would they? It's boring. It's thankless. Worst of all, it's never-ending. Your only reward for tidying up the house is that, a few days later, you have to do it again. Yippee. Not.

If hair is purported to clean itself after not washing it for a few months, why shouldn't houses do the same? Men are simply waiting to test if that theory is true, but they never get a chance to find out, because some overly fastidious female always comes along, insisting that they put their dirty underthings in the washing machine.

It's not that I like dirt. I hate it. But then, I'm not a man, and men just don't seem to feel the same way about it that women do. As a general rule, I mean, because, obviously, there are exceptions. Such as men who are trying to get a bit more action between the sheets, by pretending to be all progressive and gender-friendly.

I'm not knocking it.

Whatever works, right?

To most men, dirt simply seems to be a natural phenomenon, like gravity, and no one expects them to do anything about that, do they?

If they were constantly demanding that we cleaned the house from top to bottom every night when we come in from work, then, fair enough, they'd be the misogynist pigs that feminists always claim they are. But very few of them do. They only want to collapse onto a sofa and watch TV, and they'd be perfectly happy for their other halves to do likewise. In fact, they can't for the life of them understand why we don't.

Of course the house would quickly look like a tip, with mushrooms growing on the inside of the shower, but that's the point. Men still wouldn't care, as their feet started sticking to the carpet, and even the mice moved out in protest at the falling standards.

The real question, then, is: why do we expect men to be more like us, when an equally workable alternative, as Professor Higgins points out in My Fair Lady, is for us to be more like them?

Women could learn not to care about the sight of a pair of pants lying on the stairs for six weeks, or spaghetti Bolognese congealing on the plate, to the stage where it takes an industrial drill to get it off again. We could train ourselves up so that the sight of mould on the inside of coffee cups no longer revolted us to the core. Then we'd be as happy, smelly and downright disgusting as they are.

It's not as if the great campaigners for women's rights in the past gave a monkey's about the ironing, after all. They had better things to do. So do we, if only we'd wise up and admit it.

But would we be happy being happy? There's the rub. That would mean admitting that we might have been wrong all along in expecting men to see the world in the same way as women - and, if we were wrong about that, then who knows what else we might have been mistaken about as well?

Whatever equality was supposed to mean, it can't be about letting men just be themselves, otherwise what was the point of trying to improve them? If we're not happy with the way we are, why the hell should they be?

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