Jeff Smith noon, March 8
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A Woman's Work
This is a bona-fide rant, and something that has bothered me for a long time. Just in time for Thanksgiving, when millions of American women will be slaving away in the kitchen while the men drink beer and watch football.
Yesterday I had the misfortune to happen upon a blog called “The Super-Duper Wife”, or some such nonsense. In it, the authoress described herself as one who vacillates between tomboy and glamour puss, keeps a spotless house, yada yada yada. I had to wonder what audience this was meant for.
I would rather read a novel or take a beating than scrub toilets and floors in order to please a man or anyone for that matter. I am consistently astonished when I see television commercials for cleaning products featuring women wielding a “Swifter” or a “Dyson” or a toilet brush and “Soft Scrub”. “Soft Scrub”?!?? Who cares if you scratch your toilet? These women are smiling and toiling away, as if this were the most natural thing in the world. There is nary a man to be seen.
I understand Madison Avenue. I know that most men will not shop for cleaning products, let alone clean willingly and without force. Save for the few Felix Unger fussbudgets out there, it is a market designed for and strategically focused toward women. It plays into a very deep-rooted campaign started in the ‘50s that isolated women from the outside world and kept them supposedly blissfully happy by providing them with all the “convenience” of a modern washer/dryer, dishwasher, vacuum, stove. What it succeeded in doing was imprisoning them, unpaid slaves to the American Dream, while any creative endeavors they may have harbored were firmly pushed aside as they were told that this is a better way of life for them.
It still happens to this day. I worked with many women who worked very hard at their jobs all day long, only to have to leave to race to pick up the children from day care so that they may get home in time to fix dinner for their husband and kids and help with homework and then clean-up. They would come in early so they could leave a few minutes early in order to not have to pay the day-care penalty for late pick-up. When I would ask why can’t their husband pick-up the kids, they would tell me with a straight face “well, he can’t leave his job”. But you can? No wonder we are still not taken seriously.
My mother-in-law is shocked that young women today do not cook. When I ask her “why should they?” she becomes downright indignant, as if this is the worst possible character defect a woman could possess. She then rattles off a list of things she did as a young housewife. When I remind her that she did not have a full-time job, which most women are required to have nowadays in order to sustain the two-income lifestyle we have come to believe is necessary in order to achieve happiness, she counters that she raised four children. Did I mention they had a “live-in”? It is hopeless to argue with her generation.
All I can say is, ladies, please don’t buy into this sham. If you really get a kick out of keeping a spotless house, then by all means, do so, but not at the expense of your happiness. No one likes a martyr. My house is neat, but by no means spotless. Everyone who visits says they like my house, because it looks like someone LIVES there. Books and magazines stacked by the bed, a few tufts of cat hair strewn about, counter top decked with keys and glasses and Group-ons that need using. I won’t waste my energy caring if someone judges me because of a few dust bunnies. I prefer to use my energy to learn, and create, and hopefully be a good example to a younger generation that I see not buying into this insidious brain-washing that makes women feel they have to “have it all”. They don’t HAVE it all. They have to DO it all.
I guess my point here is, stop feeding the whole fallacy that it is your job to keep the house clean, and the kids busy and perfect, and your husband fed and fulfilled, all while climbing the corporate ladder while you receive little in return for this “second shift”. Even if you are fortunate enough to not have to work a full-time job, there is no glory in it. There is a reason Sylvia Plath stuck her head in an oven. From what I understand from my friends, the oven is no longer a viable option, as suicide would be construed as another failure. Most turn to wine. Gallons of it. Now this I can understand. Anesthetize yourself, and the rest will follow. At least you won’t care if the turkey is dry.