Last week, whilst stuck in bed for a couple of days with the dreaded lurgy, I found myself doing something so utterly retrograde that I could almost hear Liz Jones over at The Daily Mail screaming “Oi, feminism, in yer face!” Because instead of using the time to recuperate, read books, catch up on Orange is the New Black, or plan my, ahem, glittering future, I thought about housework. FFS.
It’s not that I enjoy housework, you understand. Housework sucks ass to the max. “Whenever we ask women about the most stressful thing in their lives, housework is at the top,” said Siobhan Freegard of Netmums, proving that I’m not alone. In fact, because I love to labour a point, here are some things I like better than housework:
1. Childbirth – Childbirth may shred up your vagina big time, leaving you with a new open-plan living space I like to call a VAGASS, but at least it’s not boring. At least childbirth doesn’t get you wondering why the fuck you bothered learning to read and write in the first place. Unlike housework.
2. The School Run – If you like doing 145 things in less than an hour and at a rate that defies the laws of physics, you’ll love the school run. But even if you loathe it, it does at least get you OUT of the house. Unlike housework.
3. Cystitis – “OMG. I think Satan is holed up in my fucking urethra” is another way of saying “I’ve got cystitis”. But as horrible as cystitis is, there’s still a chance folks will think you’ve had so much sex you did your bladder in. Which can’t be said for housemaid’s knee.
Here is a picture of my daughter’s bedroom
Even though most women say they dislike housework – another recent study for Zoflora revealed that only one in three women like household chores – they still spend 18.2 hours a week doing housework, and if I’m anything to go by, a further 2-3 hours in the grip of an inexplicable sense of panic over it. Which begs the profoundly nuanced question: What the fuck???!!!
Of course, most women would argue that the reason they do so much housework is because no other fucker is doing it. The news that women still do two-thirds of the housework even when they’re the main breadwinner – thirty-five years after Arlie Hochschild wrote The Second Shift – is depressing shit by any measure. Whilst nobody is letting men off the hook (in spite of their alleged lack of natural flair when it comes to the art of cutting through embedded grease and grime, bless their stiff crunchy socks), I still believe that there is a sense in which women have internalized the notion that housework is their job; a situation aggravated by a gender pay gap and glass ceiling that means that for many women, home might also be the one place where they feel they can wear the trousers. Or, as someone delicately put it, become a Queen Of Their House *massive citrus-scented barf*. All of which suggests that even if couples were to negotiate their way to an equitable division of domestic labour, women might still end up doing more housework than is necessary.
So, for all ye who seek reprieve from the endless spin cycle of futility, who would like to strangle Henry the fatuously grinning hoover with his own trip hazard of a fucking hose, who believe that hands that do dishes could be doing something more fun and worthwhile, who HATE housework as much as I do. Here’s the thing:
HOUSEWORK IS NOT YOUR JOB ANY MORE.
Housework is not even your job if you are a stay-at-home mother with pre-schoolers, because being a mother is actually your job. And, what’s more, even if you define yourself as a housewife, and you don’t work outside the home, and your kids are at school or whatever, you are still entitled to the same leisure time as your partner, which means that he has to step up to the laundry basket once in a while. (Or, you know, risk his all-time-favourite Thomas Pink shirt coming out with a hint of er, real indelible pink. And also small enough to fit Baby Annabel’s baby’s baby. IYKWIM.) And if all of that is not clear enough, here is something I prepared earlier, entitled The Trollop Manifesto, which is a nationwide call to take strike action against unnecessary household chores, and to take up the gloriously skuzzy mantle of trollop-dom.
It goes like this:
1. Thou must not iron. Ever. There really is NO functional advantage to eliminating clothing wrinkles, because all you’re really doing is trying to achieve perfection, which is impossible. In fact, according to serious scientific research conducted on behalf of Vagenda, there are only three people who heart ironing, all of whom are deranged and/or have control issues. These are a) Anthea Turner, whose love for ironing is only surpassed by her love for the de-cluttering potential of wicker baskets; b.) Pingu’s dad, who loves to iron even though nobody in Pingu’s household wears clothes; and c.) Tom Utley over at the Daily Mail, who likes to iron whilst watching militaristic war films. Go figure.
2. Thou must not clean behind the fridge, or under it. According to bug-eyed UKIP pisshead Godfrey Bloom, those of us who never ever clean behind the fridge are skanky hoes in need of a Good Hard Lesson on the uses and functions of a Rubbermaid refrigerator coil brush. (Presumably from Godfrey). By implication, those who do clean behind the fridge, ditto under the fridge, are UKIP role models. Which is easily the best reason ever not to clean behind the fridge.
3. Thou must not dust the ceiling mouldings. Ever. (Although for those of you who didn’t know that dusting the ceiling mouldings is A Thing, listen up, because it turns out that what you’re actually supposed to do is wrap clean pantyhose around the top of a long-handled brush and by working clockwise in a spiral formation, remove the dust from the mouldings.) As opposed to, you know, grabbing the same long-handled brush, wrapping it in a pair of nasty malodorous knickers you found under your bed or in your bag, and using it to jab anybody who comments on your squalid plasterwork IN THE FACE. (Same goes for behind the radiator btw…)
I don’t know what the brown thingymummy is attached to the light fitting. And I don’t care.
4. Thou must not make the bed. Cleaning websites suggest that you make your bed every day, which will keep you in a tip-top frame of mind and stave off any silly existential crises. But what they don’t tell you is that making your bed can just as easily leave you with a weird lingering sense of despair and meaninglessness, and that using micro-fibre Swiffer dusters to get rid of hard-to-reach cobwebs behind the headboard, or dust bunnies under the bed, can turn up precious items that remind you of the life you once had, overwhelming you with a sense of loss and mortality. So personally, I think the risks are too high.
5. And finally, do not ever use your hairdryer to remove dust from lampshades and delicate curtains. If you do, you are dead to me, and a totes bad feminist. Unless of course you actively like using your hairdryer to remove dust from the lampshades (or any of the above chores), in which case you are exercising a free choice, which is your right as a woman, and I applaud you (Fucking minefield…)
Er, anyway, using my super math brain, I have quickly calculated that eliminating the above chores from your household routine should save two hours a week, to be spent however your please, but NOT on alternative housework chores, please. I’m also urging you to post pictures of your freshly squalid interiors on social media, including any interestingly matted ceiling mouldings, beautifully creased garments, and/or the mysteriously shadowy hinterland behind your fridge, which will encourage other women to sign-up to the manifesto too. Because, gals, if we carry on spending almost twenty hours of every week doing things that we hate, some of which are in any objective sense unnecessary, it’ll soon be a case of BANG! And the Life is Gone. To paraphrase that twat off the Cif advert.
PS: Don’t forget to use the #trollopmanifesto and to add your own uber-trollopy rules on household chores that should never be undertaken! Yay!
- Sian H