Juggling being a good guest vs assumption that females should help in kitchen

(27 Posts)
heidihole Fri 26-Jul-13 11:10:30

Whenever DH and I go to my parents for lunch/dinner I automatically help my mum prepare/serve/tidy away. My DH automatically sits in the living room with my dad and chats. I don't mind this as I'd rather stand and chat to mum, and he'd rather sit and chat to dad. When it's time to clear away my dad never takes a plate through, my mum does it, and I always help because I want to help my mum, I don't want her to have to do it all. I always pointedly look at DH and he starts to clear too.

However last weekend we went to the in-laws for lunch for first time in ages. After we had eaten, MIL and SIL started to clear. BIL, DH and FIL sat on their arses and stayed chatting. My overwhelming instinct was to get up and help. But I didn't because I just thought fuck it, why does these 3 mens penis excuse them from helping? So I stayed and chatted with them. But I felt so mean for not helping. I'm sure the men didn't feel mean at all. Should I have helped? I feel like if MIL wanted a hand she could always have asked her husband, and co-host, to clear the table with her!

CiscoKid Fri 26-Jul-13 11:29:08

What did your husband say about this when you asked him? Does he do this at home?

heidihole Fri 26-Jul-13 11:44:00

I've never raised it with him. At home we do everything 50/50

His mum is the opposite of feminist so he never raised a finger at home. Therefore it wouldn't occur to him to help when we go there for lunch.

It occurs to me, because I was brought up to be helpful at home AND as a guest. So it's ingrained in me just clear away dishes. But I'm struggling to juggle the thoughts of am I doing it becuase I'm a 'nice person' or becuase I'm female. Is it expected because I'm female and will MIL be silently judging me for sitting down.

We're off again tomorrow to their house for lunch!

heidihole Fri 26-Jul-13 11:44:51

I have a sneaky feeling if I bring it up with DH he's roll his eyes and say I'm overthinking the feminist thing smile

CiscoKid Fri 26-Jul-13 12:02:30

Just tell him! Beyond the female thing, beyond the feminism thing, it is just good manners to help out. Given that someone else has bought food, invited you round and cooked for you, I think it's the least anyone can do. My mum would kick my arse if I sat there and let everyone else do the work grin

tabulahrasa Fri 26-Jul-13 12:07:32

'After we had eaten, MIL and SIL started to clear. BIL, DH and FIL sat on their arses and stayed chatting. My overwhelming instinct was to get up and help. But I didn't because I just thought fuck it, why does these 3 mens penis excuse them from helping? So I stayed and chatted with them.'

At that point if it occurred to me that it was a gendered work thing - I'd have gone in, sat down and said to DP...I always help clear up when we're guests here, surely it must be your turn to do it and mine to sit chatting by now?

eurozammo Fri 26-Jul-13 12:19:28

Hmm. My husband and I are pretty equal in offering to help when visiting both sides of the family. At my parents's place, my mum does everything and always has, so offers of help are always turned down. Same at his mum's. But at his dad & step-mum's place everyone just mucks in with loading the dishwasher, getting drinks and so on.

LRDYaDumayuIThink Fri 26-Jul-13 13:23:13

Yeah, please tell him.

I have the same issue at home, that my dad automatically sits down (so do my brothers) while I get up. But DH gets up too and I'd be bloody fed up if he didn't to be honest. I have enough of a job biting my tongue with my dad.

I would also feel very awkward not getting up to help in the situation you describe with your MIL, so I think it's unfair of your DH to put you in that position. Either he reckons guests don't help clear up, so he won't at your parents' home and you won't at his (and he should be saying that to his mum and dad too IMO). Or he needs to get up and help you in both situations.

Does he not realize that he is being rude?

AnyFucker Fri 26-Jul-13 13:37:18

No matter where I am, if I feel prompted by politeness to assist with cooking/organising/clearing up I will gladly do it. But if my DH is there and doesn't also get up to do his bit, I will semi-jokingly say "oi, DH, this stuff doesn't do itself".

What other people do in their own relationships is their own business, but what I have found over the years is that people will often follow our cue, apart from the entrenched partnerships based on profoundly sexist principles. There is no hope for them, and I assume the women in them accepted it a long time ago.

heidihole Fri 26-Jul-13 14:48:24

Yes, I think tomorrow then I'll nudge him and make sure we both get up and clear. I want to help MIL but it grates that I'm automatially the one helping because i'm female. My mum would say to me "Oi, Heidihole can you help with these plates" but MIL would never in a MILLION years say that to her son whilst he had his penis firmly in tact!

AnyFucker Fri 26-Jul-13 17:18:57

then lead by example, Heidi

my MIL, who I love with all my heart, was brought up in a different era

she was the one pushing a baby out while tidying the house, while FIL was down the pub wetting the baby's head

she marvels at me and my "assertive" ways now and thinks it is great that women should no longer be expected to be handmaidens to men, but things were fraught at times at the beginning

she just could not countenance the idea that I didn't have a hot meal on the table for her son's return from work, that I < shock horror> had no intentions of doing the ironing of a grown man, that we shared household shitwork

she worked full time while her children were small, mind, and still did everything to do with the house and kids and says if she had her time again that things would be very different

madness

NeedlesCuties Sat 27-Jul-13 07:45:39

I agree anyfucker my MIL also worked full-time and did everything with the kids while FIL sat on his smug arse reading the papers. She told me that they had 3 children and he never once did a night feed, or changed a nappy.

Madness.

OP, I agree with you about the women being expected to help, conditioned to be polite by tidying and cleaning. My DH doesn't just see it as a female thing, he knows it's just good manners to help, or at least to offer.

nooka Sat 27-Jul-13 07:54:21

I was brought up to offer help, and with the expectation that guests did their share of clearing up, helping with preparations etc. My father was generally excused from before meal help but lead with after meal clearing up, and all of us children, db included were expected to do our bit. When we got married ILs too.

dh's family on the other hand do not think that guests should do anything apart from sit around and drink. I found going to meals at his parents and sisters really hard, and he found it hard being bossed around by my mum!

So might not just be sexism perhaps? I'd not have been at all happy mind, but dh offers to help nowadays (and we don't visit much now we live in a different country anyway).

78bunion Sat 27-Jul-13 08:28:29

Many of us do not come from sexist families where men sit around like that. I think you did the right thing to do nothing. You could also have said to the men - what about helping, you don't want to appear sexist do you?

StickEmUp Sat 27-Jul-13 13:28:59

I'm laughing here at the over thinking the feminist thing!
Of course, that 'over thinking' would totally fuck up his 'position' on it all and give him something difficult to think about!
(that's not a stab at your dh. Promise x)

phoolani Sat 27-Jul-13 21:52:36

I took my cue from the in-laws. DH has 3 sisters and when their husbands all sat in the living room drinking beer and otherwise doing nothing after a big family meal while the sisters helped clear up, I got myself a beer and sat down with them. Well, it's not like I want to mess with tradition or anything...the weird thing is I don't know quite how this situation arose given that DH's father is a truly lovely man who's forever telling his wife to sit down, he'll do it. He'd do everything if she let him.

scottishmummy Sat 27-Jul-13 21:57:47

I allocate tasks by name, shall we clear up and off we all trot to kitchen
No I don't do the wee ladies clear up,men sit about

tribpot Sat 27-Jul-13 22:00:59

My grandmother did everything in the home, everything. Even though my granddad was a seasonal worker (bricklayer) when he was out of work he did fuck all in the house. Never did a nappy, never did a night feed. And must have sat on his arse watching her clean and cook during the day - and he was in the Navy in the war so he knew how to do ironing, sewing, polishing, etc. Unbelievable.

Well, thank fuck we live in different times now. (Ironically my grandmother thinks my life is intolerably hard because I am the breadwinner in my house and, in fairness, my DH is too ill to be the homemaker). I would just say to your DH that you expect him to help out too - it's a politeness thing and you don't see why you should have to feel compromised between manners and principles. In my parents' house, btw, there's no division on gender lines. It tends to be whoever isn't watching the kids helps out with the washing up (the parentals will not tolerate help in the kitchen during the food prep!).

scottishmummy Sat 27-Jul-13 22:04:30

It's like the sychopantic gush when a dad changes/watches his own wean
As if its a Herculean effort
I hate that thing women do,fussing over a man watching his own Weans

Another one who thinks the best way forward is to affectionately publicly remind your H to help with the clearing up. I had a similar fret to myself a couple of months back when we went to DS' dad's parents for a party: I was on kitchen duty. However, DS' dad was on furniture-moving, door answering and drink-pouring duty, so it wasn't a case of women doing the servant thing while the men sat on their arses, so I smiled brightly and mucked in.

wigglesrock Sun 28-Jul-13 07:26:35

My husband always clears up when we are at either parents house. His dad would do most of the "big dinner" cooking anyway, so he'd be in the kitchen. He comes from a family of boys and they all do loads of cooking, clearing up, laying table etc.

We always clear up together in my mums, everyone always sits for ages then everyone just brings their dishes in.

My parents are in their 60s and my pils are in their 70s.

intheshed Sun 28-Jul-13 07:33:09

How about you just say loudly 'MIL that was a lovely dinner, now you sit down and WE'LL tidy up' with a pointed look at DH and BIL.

Roshbegosh Sun 28-Jul-13 07:50:10

I think it would be rude to go into their home and impose your views on them. Get off your arse and help and try to fit in and be polite. It is not the time or place for you to get on a soapbox and educate everyone. If you start dictating who does chores in someone else's home when you are a guest it would make you a huge PITA. Imagine this reversed and your MIL dictating what goes on in your home? Respect please.

exoticfruits Sun 28-Jul-13 07:52:29

I would do as intheshed suggests. We don't have that problem because on the very first time DH went to my mothers he washed up and has done ever since.

purplemurple1 Sun 28-Jul-13 08:03:53

In just volunteer my OH and to be honest anyone else at the table to help with things, either pass them plates/bowls to take to the kitchen, or make a joke about the strong men at the table should whip the cream for dessert, that sort of thing. I don't think any guy (or lazy women) would out right refuse or say it isn't their job to do this type of thing.

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