Wednesday 25 April 2018

Men are just no chore thing for housework

Irish men don't do a lot of chores
Irish men don't do a lot of chores
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Irish men, be ashamed. Be very ashamed. New OECD figures have ranked the menfolk of the world in terms of how much housework they do every day. (It doesn't count if you're a professional cleaner or baker, by the way. This is unpaid work - you know, the stuff women do all the time.)

And the men of Ireland trail in a miserable 25th, doing a pathetic 49 minutes of housework per day. This is way behind pacesetters such as Slovenia (114 minutes), Denmark (107) and Estonia (105).

Even worse, we're outdone by nations whose males are (stereotypically, at least) seen as awful chauvinists. The average Frenchman would sooner eat his last copy of Sartre's Nausea than wash the dishes - they do more housework than us. American men are all beef-devouring, gung-ho, alpha males - they do more than us.

South Africans are like Americans on steroids - they do more than us. Even Italians - who never raise a finger because they have Mama to do it all for them - yes, them too.

Thank God then for Japan, Korea, China and India, where the blokes have such a desultory attitude to housework, it's practically an art-form. Saves our blushes a tiny bit.

But only a tiny bit, and it's right we're embarrassed. In all fairness, lads: this is 2015. That makes it - by mine and Wikipedia's reckoning - 2,395 years since Plato argued for equality between men and women; 223 since Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman; 102 since Emily Davison killed herself under the feet of the King's horse to demand female suffrage; 66 since Simone de Beauvoir wrote The Second Sex.

Yet still we expect the ladies to handle the domestic drudgery? And it is drudgery: housework is boring, repetitive, exhausting - the very definition of soul-destroying Sisyphean labour. Which, I guess, is why we try to weasel out of it so much. Sure, there has to be some reason, right?

There may be some mitigating circumstances here. For starters, the weather is depressing. Yes, I know the climate is the same for women, but they don't seem to mind it as much as me. And a depressed state of mind - no energy for housework.

There's surely also some psychic blowback from the enduring place that sport, drinking, religion and politics have historically held in Irishmen's hearts. They all have one thing in common: these are quite blokeish pursuits. After going to a football match, downing 17 pints, saying the rosary and arguing about Dev versus Collins - yet again - what self-respecting macho gorilla could be expected to grab the rubber gloves and Cif the washbasins?

Housework doesn't have to be so bad, though. I don't mind ironing, for example. You get to watch a match or a movie, and prove your skill at negotiating the different heat settings for different fabrics. (Pro-tip: only experienced veterans should attempt a silk blouse.)

Washing up is alright, too. Throw on a CD, or pretend to be a just-released ex-con in a crime movie, working in a diner kitchen and determined to "stay straight".

Laundry can be quite relaxing, in an empty-minded, Zen sort of way, steadily moving through the process: dirty clothes, wash, hang out, tumble-dry, sort, fold, store. Repeat tomorrow.

As for the rest, however… OK, I confess. I never hoover. I never do bathrooms. I rarely dust. I do cook sometimes, though then it's done to such a mediocre standard, the game is hardly worth the candle.

I'm just as bad as every other Irish man out there, with his disgraceful 49 minutes of housework a day. Don't hate me - I already hate myself.

On the flipside, I make a damn nice sandwich, do a great impersonation of a just-released ex-con in a movie… and if a silk blouse needs ironing - I'm your man.

Irish Independent

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