all the unpaid unthanked work round the house - a feminist issue?

(104 Posts)
semirurallife Tue 15-Oct-13 18:08:01

AIBU for regularly thinking of quitting my job(s) as full time mum, part time worker, part time job hunter? what gets my goat (?) is the thankless tidying, cleaning, cooking, shopping, sock-pairing, ironing, drawer tidying, hovering, mopping, shoe-lifting - I could go on - that I do. I can't get a proper job coz have taken too much time off looking after the DH and DCs, so feel stuck. a separate issue! but isn't it (house and family care) a feminist issue, and why doesn't mainstream feminism seem to care about all this sh*t we do? they all seem glamorous media savvy Londoners rather than stuck in the sticks with boring mundane problems... anyone know what am talking about?...

CailinDana Wed 16-Oct-13 12:08:06

You've inadvertently identified one of the main problems that feminism faces -the stereotypical idea that "real" feminists burn their bras and have hairy legs. Your idea of feminism seems to come directly from the media - which is the case for a lot of women. But it's worth remembering that the media is informed and run by a patriarchal society - it suits men very well if women think feminism is a bit crazy, unnecessary or dead.
In fact, a lot has been written about the very issues you identify - wifework and the politics of housework being the major works.
Op you clearly are a feminist and have plenty of worthwhile things to say. Don't be put off by the false images you've been fed.

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 16-Oct-13 12:10:08

(when I say London was brought to a standstill, I just mean they had to stop the traffic in Oxford St and some other main thoroughfares for a few hours, obv. But it lasted quite a long time because there were so many people marching.)

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 16-Oct-13 12:10:26

Cailin - yes, spot on.

whatdoesittake48 Wed 16-Oct-13 12:38:42

This whole issue of housework really troubles me. Clearly running a household is a job which has to be done (we would all be waist deep in filth otherwise...) and for many reasons (not least the fact that women are underpaid in the workforce) women are left at home to do it.

But here comes the crunch - I don't think men consciously see the housework as womens work. I think they just feel that they do enough. Clearly this is so wrong. running a house is a 24 hour job and nothing like a nine to five.

Women also feel often that they should do everything around the house because their man works and provides for them. this is the brainwashing bit. We actually believe that this job the man has is so impressive and important that their needs should be catered for at all times.

A few of the comments here have also alluded tot he fact that some women think men are incapable to doing housework to the right standards. How very convenient for men. We need to nip that notion in the bud.

Why do we think that we can earn a living just as well as men, but don't think men can look after the home as well as us. that is crazy. it is like we are talking ourselves into being responsible for everything and not allowing any help.

coldwinter Wed 16-Oct-13 13:00:32

And even if both partners work full time, the woman still usually does more.

There is lots of feminist activism where I live. You wouldn't know it from the media though. And Million Women Rise march was great. Had no idea a contingent of MNers were there though.

SinisterSal Wed 16-Oct-13 13:21:23

I hate the notion that men can't do the housework to a high enough standard.
You hear 'Oh loosen up, let him do it his way'
'I tried, but she's like a sargeant major hanging over me. It doesn't matter as long as it gets done'

But when you examine it, it's often something like putting the wrong childs clothes in the wrong drawer. Result? Mum (usually) running around in frustration 5 minutes before school starts looking for the correct uniform.
Not hanging out the washing properly - Result, ironing takes twice as long.
A dirty cloth being used to clean the kitchen - well, obvious result is it's not actually clean.

If it's always been the woman who has done these jobs before, surely it's just basic respect for her expertise that you'd do it pretty much her way at least til you'd found your own rythym? Do these men come in with the attitude that their wives make up crazy overcomplicated schemes in order to provide pitfalls for men?
If he was getting the hang of any other job he'd follow procedure, he'd have enough respect for the task and the people performing it that he'd accept there was a reason for doing it this particular way even if that reason was not immediately obvious.
He wouldn't just tumble a pile of boxes into a ware house and think 'It doesn't matter as long as it gets done'
He wouldn't fling out pints and change behind a bar and complain that he's expected to use a till and clean glasses and keep track of the stock.

DavesDadsDogDiedDiabolically Wed 16-Oct-13 13:57:24

The trouble with "written" feminism is that it's not going to reach those that need to hear it. Feminist boards are for feminists (or troublemaking MRAs) - "normal" folk won't go near them. (There's even a thread on this site about how unwelcoming the Feminist area is).

If the very people that should be involved don't feel they can be then surely you're on to a non starter?

You've got to be careful that you don't "posh" it out of reach. Someone that will cheerfully protest and fight for their right to equal pay in the workplace may not necessarily read a longwinded article/book on the detailed ins & outs of the subject.

"The Politics of Housework", "Wifework" - how many "normal" women - by which I mean not Feminist as such, but could/should be - would even consider reading them? They even sound boring intimidating.

Would a pamphlet campaign work better? If you can't get people interested in your message in a leaflet made of 1 sheet of folded A4 you're probably not communicating the right message.

The examples you gave above of non-events that weren't covered by the media sum it up TBH.

Stop the traffic on Oxford Street - woo. 60 (a whole 60) Mumsnetters turn up in one place - how many Mumsnetters are there? Oxford Street stops everytime BT dig up a cable!

I'll stick by my earlier comment - it's Lazy, Comfortable Feminism at the moment - no one is being challenged, no one is changing, no one is shouting...

semirurallife Wed 16-Oct-13 14:04:21

DavesDadsDogDiedDiabolically -yes, it is lazy to do it on a keyboard, but there is the practical issue -
so I went to V rising day, but locally - Norwich smile and it was great but small and don't think we made it on much local news...it was great but felt like what it probably is,a small group of like minded women who DO have the time to go somewhere and make a symbolic protest. Maybe if we were topless... argh!
and couldn't agree more with analyses of why men can't do housework.
Sinister, if it was his workplace the socks would be ironed before being paired. at home, I find my daughter's knickers in with mine... (were but that my bum was that small! and you can tell he doesn't really notice what underwear I wear which is fine... No, if i get pi**ed off, his response is pretty much calm down dear, which then of course makes me stew twice as hot.. but I can't change him any faster than a tanker can turn round. you pick your battles, right, like with the kids... and on balance at least he's gentlemanly, in an old fashioned but sweet way

will go and read Wifework... but I hate the media's spin - even Women's Hour - on how women need to do x and y to get further ahead in business. I don't want to go and work full time because I couldn't pay anyone enough to do what I do for the kids; and I love them coz thier cute. most of the time. the feminist ethics thing comes into it because I don't like the way the world is run - my friend at college and I used to draw up fantasy cabinets, and re-order them - every member of the cabinet a woman - plus Jeremy Paxbaby because we had a soft spot for him then... anyway I digress, but no Teresa May does NOT get a job.

childcare would be universally available, if you wanted it; part time flexible jobs would be the norm; respect would be taught in schools and violence not glorified in stupid movies or x box games, but identified as a danger to anyone... i could go on...smile

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 16-Oct-13 14:07:32

"Feminist boards are for feminists..." - well, who were you expecting? Trainspotters?

semirurallife Wed 16-Oct-13 14:28:13

teatimesthree - thanks for politics of housework link. brilliant. and short (always helpful when you have a pile of ironing to get through before the kids come through door with mud, messy bags and needing to be carted out again to a lesson). sigh.
nothing more liberating than knowing you're oppressed. smile
but you do get scary stuff. my mum, when I was a student, i bought her a mug because when i asked her if she was a feminist she says 'i;m not sure what one is'. so the mug had the quote from [can't remember whom] who said they were called a feminist every time they tried to differentiate themselves from a doormat. she still didn't get it...
and - as the article suggests - thinking about other oppressed groups - we need a feminist liberation theology (or similar) to get women to see how trying to be pretty is wasting their time - am trying to ban DD fom makeup (she's 9 going on 15) but how do I counteract the po stars she sees on telly, glossed and sexed up off their stilettos? ...

YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Wed 16-Oct-13 14:31:28

A pamphlet Dave ?

Sheesh, why didn't anyone think of that?! Tell me more about how to do feminism properly...

I do so love to be patronised and criticised by someone who knows fuck all about me...just a lot of lazy assumptions.

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 16-Oct-13 14:34:41

Wow, what a pity you're not in charge of the feminist movement, Dave. It would do so much better.

Out of interest, do you see yourself as part of this 'lazy comfortable' feminism? Or is it just the rest of us who are being lazy?

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 16-Oct-13 14:38:05
YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Wed 16-Oct-13 14:40:44

grin Tunip

semirurallife Wed 16-Oct-13 14:41:51

that's beautiful Tunip - but couldn't we get someone better looking - Brad Pitt, perhaps?

YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Wed 16-Oct-13 14:42:27

<awaits to be informed 'its no wonder feminism never gets anywhere when you girls are so hostile'>

WoTmania Wed 16-Oct-13 14:42:50

Dave - obviously MWR isn't just 60 MNetters
If you're interested MWR: www.millionwomenrise.com/

MaddAddam Wed 16-Oct-13 14:43:13

Of course it's a feminist issue, feminists have always written and argued about housework. The Feminine Mystique had a huge impact from the 50s onwards. Wifework is a more modern version of the same theme. There's a lot of academic feminism devoted to these topics but maybe it's not so visible in the wider media.

As for it sounding boring, I find nothing boring about not feeling obliged to do most/all of the housework and childcare. It's one of the lovely perks of being a feminist. Less domestic drudgery. Another nice feminist perk is feeling entitled to stomp around making a fuss if people aren't pulling their weight on the laundry and mopping.

DavesDadsDogDiedDiabolically Wed 16-Oct-13 14:44:40

Me - I'm not a feminist (yet) but might be one day.

I wasn't patronising LaLa genuinely wondering why Feminism isn't in the public eye more. It can't all be down to the "Patriarchal" empire surely?

OK, so maybe pamphlets are a bit 80's why not 2 page articles in Heat, OK, Bella etc? (not consciously being patronising but they are read predominately by women).

Feminists talking on Feminist boards to other Feminists doesn't sound like it's going to change much - that's all!

Anyway, off to fill in my application form for Supreme Feminist Leader (Keyboard Division)...

DavesDadsDogDiedDiabolically Wed 16-Oct-13 14:47:23

@ WoTmania - Thanks - looks interesting, will see if we can make it.

YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Wed 16-Oct-13 14:50:40

It is in the public eye confused (Malala, NoMorePage3, Lose the Lads Mags, Women on bank notes, Twitter rape threats, Femen, Affirmative Action debates etc.)

Not enough, obviously, but the internet has done a lot to educate and unite women. Surprised and confused you dismiss it. Petitions and campaigns are much stronger due to the internet.

SilverApples Wed 16-Oct-13 14:59:25

I think change in the home has to come from the grassroots, the basics.
I'm a feminist, so I've always refused to settle for an unfair, sexist relationship. When people have been lazy and made assumptions, I've just not snuggled up into my pigeonhole and accepted that anything is my job because I'm female.
I have two adult children who will expect the same in any relationships they have if we've given them a good example.
You can have all the theories you like about Wifework and housework and child-rearing, but until women stand their ground and insist on a fair division of labour when they have to, little will change.

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 16-Oct-13 15:04:19

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you didn't mean to be so rude, Dave smile

It is a truth very well known to anyone who knows about feminist history or has engaged in more than one piece of activism that whatever means of protest you use, whatever cause you focus on, there will be blokes sitting there telling you you're doing it wrong.
When the Suffragettes chained themselves to railings there was a lot of talk about how they were putting back the cause of Women's Suffrage by acting in such an irrational, unfeminine and hooliganish manner. Modern feminists constantly get told we should be more like the Suffragettes. When you do online activism you are told you're lazy. When you do RL activism you're failing to engage with the modern world. When you campaign for worldwide issues you're patronising, when you focus on domestic ones you're ignoring the much worse suffering of women in the rest of the world. The only sensible strategy is to ignore it all and get on with what you're doing, I find.

Why don't we get more media coverage? Well, we're consistently non-violent - that's one reason.

DavesDadsDogDiedDiabolically Wed 16-Oct-13 15:11:27

OK, Thank You, very much damned if you do, damned if you don't then...

VerySmallSqueak Wed 16-Oct-13 15:12:05

Very well put Tunip. Very well put indeed.

Tbh I think a little keyboard talk does a lot to involve women who might not ordinarily give feminism another thought.

Softly softly. This is the way the word will spread.

Women will read a bit here and a bit there and gradually the tide will turn.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now