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Aaaaaaargh, I despair!

(62 Posts)
duchesse Wed 18-Sep-13 10:59:17

I am 45, went to university in 1987, and am utterly despairing that most of the women who were my contemporaries seem perfectly content even now, as Oxbridge educated women with often very high-flying careers, to do most of the gruntwork at home and make allowances for the fact their poor ickle menfolk can't possibly do that much at home!! I have one sole unique friend with whom I feel on the same wavelength about this- all the others seem stuck in a 1950s timewarp. What hope for their daughters?

K8Middleton Thu 19-Sep-13 15:12:57

We did hit a low point the other week when I realised cleaning the bathroom had become my responsibility. We had a discussion and dealt with it.

It helps being married to a feminist but even so, the patriarchal bollocks runs deep within us.

DuelingFanjo Thu 19-Sep-13 15:18:34

To be fair to DH he is great in many ways and he is a bit of a feminist (could do better sometimes) but is just bloomin' lazy. He's taken this time off specifically to play a computer game (Yawn) which many people would find annoying but I don't mind as he gets it out of his system very quickly this way (it's all about completing the game for him) rather than playing it endlessly for weeks.

I stopped doing his laundry many many months ago when DS was born, and told him that I would be. Unfortunately this now means it builds up and up until he reaches a crisis where he has no clothes and then does it all in one go.

When I moaned to my mum that I was fed up with doing the bulk of the jobs to do with DS she told me perhaps I was just 'trying to be too PC'! I was quite shocked as I always thought my mother was a feminist but she said she got so fed up with my dad not pulling his weight that she just did things for herself and left him to it.

Keepithidden Thu 19-Sep-13 15:21:55

Fair points Basil and GlassHare:

is so radical that I don't even dare to say it in RL. Because I know that it would make a lot of women and men either very angry with me or very uncomfortable and squirmy

I quite enjoy making people uncomfortable and squirmy, especially if it gets them to question their own core values! I appreciate doing it day in, day out with similar reactions is going to get you down a lot though so I can see why you choose not to air your opinion. Not that it is in the same league as the feminism/patriarchy aspect, I spent five years in a job trying to persuade people to change behaviour that has become completely ingrained in society, it does become soul destroying after a while.

K8 - Bathroom cleaning is shared in our household, but for some reason the toilet is my domain, going to have to discuss that this evening. Though I'm reasonably sure that it's pay-off for another unpleasant task that I manage to avoid!

duchesse Thu 19-Sep-13 15:31:10

It's a conversation I've had with my male contemporaries who tbh as a proportion of the overall amount of housework, do sweet fa at home. They are to a man really really nice guys, but it makes them exceedingly uncomfortable to be challenged and I do very quickly realise that on the whole it's not a conversation they've had with their partners, nor would it occur to their partners to begin to address it. They invariably look at me as though I have two heads. The dynamics within the gay couples I know seem far more evenly balanced.

duchesse Thu 19-Sep-13 15:47:56

And another little gripe- the couples where the bloke earns his halo just by "doing everything he's asked to do". He's a flipping adult!! He shouldn't need to be asked to do things! He has eyes in his head and hands on his arms! (assuming of course that he does; obviously if he doesn't then allowances can be made)

NotCitrus Thu 19-Sep-13 20:22:16

Going back to what messages blokes are getting: when I was student age and all my friends were male, I remember parents asking us all about career plans and I'd usually get a response like "You think you can support yourself doing that, do you?" Fair enough aspect to consider - but the lads would get asked "You think you can support a family doing that, do you?"

So 15 years later when MrNC and I went to NCT antenatal classes along with bunch of other reasonably-feminist chaps and articulate women who wouldn't accept crap, there was an exercise where we split by sex and each person had to write their main worries about the first 3 months after birth.

Without looking, the teacher said that they would be similar except women would worry more about physical recovery and hoping their partners would spend sufficient time supporting them and doing their part looking after the baby, and every single man would have put 'money'.

Big reveal proved this to be totally accurate. All the chaps had been conditioned to believe that babies are expensive and therefore to be a Good Father, their role was to take on more paid work and bring in more money, with a side order of worry that they didn't know what to do with babies and us women would know because we'd gestated them.

They were all flabbergasted when all the women told them that we wanted actual physical and emotional support when dealing with sleepless nights etc, more than any extra money, even if things were a bit tght financially (we were all fairly comfortable middle-class types). Even so, MrNC and I had our first screaming argument about 8 weeks after ds was born, as he thought he should go back to working more days, and I told him not to be so fucking stupid - we didn't need the money and I was still learning to walk agan!

Somehow we need to widen the role of 'good father' beyond 'buys stuff', given the effect on decent dads as well as the Disney Dads who think they are good fathers just by buying extravagant stuff. More celeb dads saying not only 'duh, of course I change nappies' but 'duh, I change about half the nappies - it's like roulette, hoping the pooey one doesn't happen on your turn' might be the best bet.

Parmarella Fri 20-Sep-13 07:37:56

Question to all: But what if the women in your examples are happy with their lot? What if they like their role ?

I know plenty of highly educated couples who do not actually WANT a 50-50 split of everything but who believe that as a team, devision of labour set-up, with woman doing home and kids and man working FT works best.

I also know women who would love to be at home, but the husbands say "no" as they think it unfair to have to work outside the house.

Lots of people do not have a career they love, they do a job they would not do if they would not get paid.

Isn't demanding a 50-50 split of work and housework a bit prescriptive and limiting? Is it really the best set up for everyone?

BasilBabyEater Fri 20-Sep-13 08:55:15

I don't think demanding a 50 50 split of housework is any more prescriptive than demanding that men and women get directed into roles they may not be good at or want to do, simply because of gender expectations. People seem to be happy with one prescription but not the other.

Also I don't think it's a question of 50 50 split of housework. It's the issue of the ownership of the housework that for me, is key.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 09:02:59

>Also I don't think it's a question of 50 50 split of housework. It's the issue of the ownership of the housework that for me, is key.

oh yes. "I've put the bin out for you" . "I've done the shopping for you". WTF? did I create all the waste? Do I eat all the food?

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 20-Sep-13 09:25:32

It's the issue of the ownership of the housework that for me, is key. Yes. I refuse to even ask the kids to "help me". They have to do things around the house because we all contribute to the mess and we all contribute to rectifying the situation.

NotCitrus Fri 20-Sep-13 09:50:48

It's not a 50:50 split of housework necessarily - fairness is a 50:50 split of acknowledging it exists and needs to be done by someone, along with earning income and providing childcare, and all these roles should be valued.

A good start would be making it clear to boys as they grow up that when you have kids, your time spent watching sport on telly etc should decrease until they are old enough to join in - girls get told by all the rellies and colleagues and all how much work it is having kids and you don't get time to yourself with toddlers, but men I know found that a real shock because they had never been told, or rarely. Likewise how hard it is to do childcare and anything else at the same time - it really helped having MrNC working at home sometimes because he could see and so really believe I was busy all day even though by the end it still looked like a.bomb site and no dinner was made.

BasilBabyEater Fri 20-Sep-13 11:07:57

Yes NC I think that's really important, men spending time alone with their children at least sometimes even if they work full time, so that they have a full understanding of just how much time it takes to look after children.

One of the problems of living in a patriarchy, is that women's experience doesn't get shown much and when it does, it gets shown inaccurately. So in films, soap operas etc., the sheer, mind-numbing time it takes to do stuff with kids isn't represented (and tbf, it wouldn't be a very good film / soap opera scene if it were grin) so people who don't do it, have no idea. I remember the biggest shock to me when I first had a baby, was that it was even possible to get up at 6AM and still be sitting in your dressing gown at 1PM not having actually had time to have a cup of tea, let alone breakfast, because of needing to see to the baby for all that time.

Lots of men only experience this for the first 2 weeks then they go back to work and because their life has returned to near normal, they kind of assume that their DP's life is settling back to a more normal way of living as well, when in fact normal is gone forever for her. And so that creates conflict as a couple of years later it still looks so chaotic and he thinks really she should have cracked this by now. He has a vague memory of those 2 weeks but he sort of assumed that after the first flurry, they'd go back to normalish within a few months - and in many cases, his life does. While her life has a new normal that he no longer shares in the way they used to share everything pre-DC's.

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