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‘But women have evolved to love hoovering’

(126 Posts)
Gladysthesphinx Sat 10-Oct-20 22:45:22

I was chatting to a male friend the other day about ‘wife work’- the emotional practical & organisational burden that falls on women in terms of managing domestic & family life (see thread about women in lockdown for instance).

His response was: but women have evolved to be more nurturing; to care about the home (in early days, the cave). This is their role. They have higher domestic standards because that’s their nature! Basically, we’ve evolved to wield the hoover.

The points I made to him were roughly as below. What did I miss? I was so astonished by his suddenly turning into Fred Flintstone that I was rather thinking on my feet.

1. We can’t realistically tell what results from nature & what from nurture, in complex modern societies.

2. Even if in the Stone Age women took on primary responsibility for sweeping the cave, gutting the mammoth, whatever, the burden of modern domestic life is very different. Stone Age women had to worry about starving to death, not about organising parents evening & paying bills & doing laundry & overseeing homework & caring for the elderly relatives while also working full time & commuting. It’s completely different.

3. The fact that so many women are clearly discontented with wife work seems to militate strongly against this ‘evolved to hoover’ line of thought. Look at the number of divorces initiated by women. Listen to women talking about their lives. They’re fed up. Where we’ve genuinely evolved in ways that promote certain behaviours - for instance loving our children, wanting to have sex- those behaviours are generally valued and wanted. Wife work however is not. Women generally hate it.

4. In any event, it’s a fallacy to conclude that ‘natural’ is good. It’s not natural to clean our teeth.

5. This line of argument is of no practical use whatsoever. It’s not going to convince unhappy women that they love hoovering. It’s not going to keep a marriage together where the wife is discontented & resentful because of her domestic burden. So what’s the use of it? It’s a cop out, not a useful argument or tool.

I feel I let myself down a bit- would appreciate further thoughts (apart from anything else because I’m going to revive this discussion).

OP’s posts: |
MrsWooster Sat 10-Oct-20 22:46:34

I have evolved to watch roomba, albeit with a fond, maternal gaze.

334bu Sat 10-Oct-20 22:57:45

I have evolved into Quentin Crisp

'**There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse.
Quentin Crisp"

HecatesCats Sat 10-Oct-20 23:02:45

You could explain how patriarchy assigns the important roles to men and the less important roles to women as a means of subordinating the female sex, or you could just tell him to eff off

WombOfOnesOwn Sat 10-Oct-20 23:04:42

So I assume since he thinks women belong in the kitchen from our special evolution, he's very big on DIY and does it to a good standard, then?

He can surely do wood and metal work, does his own car maintenance and repair, and hunts (or at LEAST butchers) the family's meat? If he saw that a piece of furniture was in disrepair and needed a complicated repair job, since fixing things was men's purview, he'd surely jump right in and start working on it, yes? When the plumbing springs a leak, I should hope he springs into action and fixes it himself, as the dashing patriarchal rescuer he's so evolved to be.

I'm going to guess that the reality is, he does absolutely none of that. Men who like to go on and on about how worthless the women of today are for not loving housework, are spending their time playing video games and doing "hobbies," rather than doing anything that could be regarded as "men's work" in the past.

I've noticed quite frequently that people are very willing to let men off the hook and simply pay for "men's work" to be done, while women are given serious attitude and judgment for hiring cleaners, ordering in or buying ready-made food rather than doing home cooking, sending out laundry for a wash-and-fold service.

It's regarded as a bit scandalous for women to hire these roles out: doesn't she know she's neglecting her job? Yet men's "jobs" around the house have completely vanished except maybe a bit of barbecuing or lawn maintenance, and been outsourced completely.

There are, of course, exceptions, and their marriages seem happy. A friend of mine's husband recently did a total kitchen remodel for her when she was away for 2 weeks tending to a relative's health. He had spent months making the cabinets in his woodworking shop, obtaining cabinet and drawer hardware, and planning everything to the inch. It looks like a professional job, but he did it completely on his own (with help from his brother and father, who are similarly handy). You know something? She makes his lunches. Every day. And she is very much without resentment toward him for anything like that, because their rural life still involves him doing many of those "man jobs" of old.

Men in office jobs today like to tut tut about women's dereliction of duty, but they've shirked nearly every scutwork responsibility imaginable. Many of them moan and cry if you so much as ask them to take out the trash.

Kaiserin Sat 10-Oct-20 23:07:20

Quite frankly I think I would have just punched him in the face. Then asked him to explain this particular action from an evolutionary perspective (after he'd picked up his teeth)

(answer: fight or flight, of course. That's how us cave men and women are hardwired to respond to threats. Followed by a healthy educational discussion on how we are evolved enough to not act purely by instinct, etc.)

EarthSight Sat 10-Oct-20 23:09:13

The trouble is here is that you're both emotionally invested in different sides of the argument.

Instead of a long argument, I would say that no one actually knows much about the people of the stone age. It's likely that men used their physical strength for hunting, but beyond that it's modern people projecting what they want in the past. In his case, he might be projecting what's most convenient for him - that women do domestic work because he doesn't want to do it. He can say he shouldn't do hoovering because it's not 'natural' for men to do that.

Going along with his cavemen theory, it's perfectly natural then that he enjoys doing all the grocery shopping as it would have been the men who mostly spent a long time away from home to get food?

Deliriumoftheendless Sat 10-Oct-20 23:11:21

I would invite your friend to see my kitchen.

The floor does look somewhat like a cave floor, though.

EarthSight Sat 10-Oct-20 23:19:33

HecatesCats

You could explain how patriarchy assigns the important roles to men and the less important roles to women as a means of subordinating the female sex, or you could just tell him to eff off

What some men do (like Douglas Murray) is convince women that motherhood is an incredibly important job, that it's THE most important job on the planet. Well, that's not what I see. Women don't get enough pay off for producing the next generation. Yes, I'm sure it's a joy for many, but what I see is a lot of stressed out, unappreciated women who might have to cope with the post pregnancy physical ailments for the rest of their lives. They are also more financially vulnerable, not having the freedom that any other 'incredibly important' top paying job would provide. Once their main job is done (motherhood) they are then patronised into the granny zone.

I've heard that the domestic sphere is apparently incredibly important too (mainly said by conservative religious men).......yeah right. They must really believe we are truly stupid to believe that one. Is that why women in some Middle East countries live under the thumb of their husbands then, I want to ask them? It just feels incredibly head-patting.

FemaleAndLearning Sat 10-Oct-20 23:23:35

I think an evolutionary biologists would argue there hasn't been enough time for the kind of evolution he is suggesting. That would need millions of years not 10000. Also if evolution worked women would be born with eight arms and hands.

CaraDuneRedux Sat 10-Oct-20 23:24:03

334bu

I have evolved into Quentin Crisp

'**There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse.
Quentin Crisp"

That was one of my mother's favourite quotes. I'm smiling just remembering her saying it.

The house was a bit of a mess, but she wrote some great poetry while ignoring the dust building up. grin

But back to the OP - your friend is a tit. Jacky Fleming's cartoons are very good on this type of man:
www.ebay.co.uk/c/1264876652

334bu Sat 10-Oct-20 23:24:32

Don't think you have much choice when you are a woman in the Middle Eastsad

Antibles Sat 10-Oct-20 23:25:57

You might have added:

"So, I take it you're single at the moment."

SquishySquirmy Sat 10-Oct-20 23:26:24

In my experience, many men who "dont see mess" in the house are perfectly capable of seeing it inside their car.
Can your friend's evolutionary theory explain that?

PlanDeRaccordement Sat 10-Oct-20 23:44:17

Maybe he meant social evolution. Pretty much every society had/has the division of labour by sex along very similar lines. With women in the domestic sphere and men in the public sphere. We’ve inherited that from prehistory. Happiness doesn’t even come into it because most of human prehistory it was about simply surviving long enough for your children to become self-sufficient.
Civilisation changed all that and with it, we can insulate ourselves from nature to survive in such a way that men and women are practically interchangeable. But that’s only been a fraction of time compared to the amount of time biologically modern humans have walked the earth.

PlanDeRaccordement Sat 10-Oct-20 23:51:59

HecatesCats

You could explain how patriarchy assigns the important roles to men and the less important roles to women as a means of subordinating the female sex, or you could just tell him to eff off

Id argue that patriarchy says the public sphere (men’s traditional role) is more important than the domestic (women’s traditional role). It’s not a fact that the domestic sphere is intrinsically less important than the public sphere. I think part of feminism is to completely discard the hierarchy of roles and flatten it. Women’s roles should be seen to be just as important as men’s roles.

HecatesCats Sat 10-Oct-20 23:54:44

Id argue that patriarchy says the public sphere (men’s traditional role) is more important than the domestic (women’s traditional role).

Should have written 'important'

Kaiserin Sat 10-Oct-20 23:54:45

With women in the domestic sphere and men in the public sphere. We’ve inherited that from prehistory.
That's a completely unsupported assumption, no?
There's tons of counterexamples.
There's no reason to accept such biased narrative.

Kaiserin Sat 10-Oct-20 23:57:22

Domestic roles are important, but women have always been active in the public sphere, even if they've been held back at times.

ErrolTheDragon Sat 10-Oct-20 23:57:47

* With women in the domestic sphere and men in the public sphere. We’ve inherited that from prehistory.*

Have we? Is there actually any evidence from prehistory of the public sphere being an exclusively male domain? Is there even evidence of distinct 'domestic' and 'public' spheres?

Kaiserin Sun 11-Oct-20 00:00:28

Some ancient societies were clearly more patriarchal than others. But you wouldn't have heard of, say, Boudicca, if women had always been assigned purely domestic roles.

PlanDeRaccordement Sun 11-Oct-20 00:08:24

ErrolTheDragon

* With women in the domestic sphere and men in the public sphere. We’ve inherited that from prehistory.*

Have we? Is there actually any evidence from prehistory of the public sphere being an exclusively male domain? Is there even evidence of distinct 'domestic' and 'public' spheres?

Yes. Archaeological studies of skeletons and grave goods from prehistoric times. Also cave paintings and rock art.

PlanDeRaccordement Sun 11-Oct-20 00:10:22

Kaiserin

*With women in the domestic sphere and men in the public sphere. We’ve inherited that from prehistory.*
That's a completely unsupported assumption, no?
There's tons of counterexamples.
There's no reason to accept such biased narrative.

What counter examples? Even Boudicca is not from prehistory, but from way after civilisation began and even towards the end of the Ancient civilisations.

ErrolTheDragon Sun 11-Oct-20 00:18:11

Some of those archaeological findings are being re-examined and different conclusions reached. Some of what was 'known' has turned out to be assumption.

RedToothBrush Sun 11-Oct-20 00:28:36

If i am 'evolved' to hoover, why are they made to be so tall that they are better suited to be used by an average sized male?

Its almost as if they are designed by men to be used by men.

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