Mother To Please Her

One of the paradoxes of modern feminism is that it’s granted certain women freedom but at the expense of their ability to function as adults. Take a look at this article in – where else? – The Guardian:

It feels very personal, the fight you have with your partner about who does the laundry or cleans the bathroom.

But the second-wave feminists were right. The personal is political. The unequal division of labour at home is a systemic issue that needs structural social change to solve it.

Yes, we must restructure society because some entitled princess doesn’t want to clean the bathroom.

Housework, writes Megan K Stack in her book Women’s Work, is “a ubiquitous physical demand that has hamstrung and silenced women for most of human history”.

Until the invention of the washing machine, dishwasher, fridge, and vacuum cleaner. Which, coincidentally, is about the time feminists found the time and energy to complain how terrible their lives were.

Like many heterosexual couples, it was the arrival of children that set my husband and me on divergent paths at home. I’ve been an avowed (and untidy) feminist since I was old enough to say the word.

Western feminists like to boast they’re untidy, hoping it signals a carefree mind occupied by loftier matters than keeping the place clean. What it actually signals is she’s a lazy slob.

We were together for 10 years before the birth of our daughter – he knew his co-parent had zero aspirations to be a homemaker. So how did we end up so easily slipping into the prescribed gender roles that we’d dodged up until then?

Well, what happened when the sink got blocked?

There are a few reasons that come to mind, such as structural issues like the lack of parental leave for fathers and the gender pay gap.

I have another theory, related to the note at the bottom of the article which says “Nicola Heath is a freelance writer”. At a guess, you decided to indulge in a poorly-paid hobby rather than get a proper job, leaving your husband as the main breadwinner. Given he’s at work all day while you knock out boilerplate rubbish for The Guardian, it’s probably only fair that you clean the toilet occasionally.

Becoming a parent is already a huge transition. Your identity is reforged in the crucible of sleep deprivation and newfound responsibility. The pre-kid lifestyle of Friday night drinks, free time and sleeping in becomes a distant memory.

Having a baby changes your life. Who knew?

In this period of chaotic readjustment, it’s easy to fall back on what we know. Even in this era of dual-income households, women take the reins at home and men … carry on pretty much as they always did, with less sleep.

The complaint seems to be that when feminists have babies they adopt behaviours which work rather than stage a political protest.

But the tired and outdated breadwinner model is just as limiting for men as it is for women. The pressure men feel to provide for their families means they work long hours and miss out on time with their children in the name of economic security.

Indeed, driven by crippling mortgages to pay for houses they might not have chosen had they been married to a Filipina called Cherry.

A report by Deloitte put the value of unpaid work in Victoria at $205bn, half the gross state product,

How much of that was performed by men?

while PwC research from 2017 found that women performed 72% of unpaid work in Australia.

I hope that study was better than the one I cited here.

Some women don’t want to work outside the home – and that’s fine. But others do, and for them pursuing a career can be an uphill battle as they try to manage paid and unpaid work.

Because men don’t mow lawns, clear gutters, paint sheds, unblock drains, change car batteries, assemble wardrobes, replace loose slates, bleed radiators, and take care of the home insurance while pursuing a career.

If women want their partners to do more domestic tasks – which would free them up to do more work outside the home – it’s not going to happen without some uncomfortable conversations.

Such as: “Tell me more about this work outside the home, and how much money will it bring in?”

Change is difficult. We’re asking someone to give up their privilege, a sticking point articulated by pioneering New Zealand economist Marilyn Waring in her 1988 book Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women Are Worth. “Men won’t easily give up a system in which half the world’s population works for next to nothing,” she wrote.

Ah yes, those 20th century miners, farmers, fishermen, labourers, warehousemen, soldiers, sailors, construction workers, all fighting tooth and nail to maintain their privilege.

For many women, this is a hard conversation to initiate. It requires saying, “my needs are important too, and what’s best for the family isn’t necessarily best for me” – something that goes against how we expect women to behave.

It goes against how we expect anyone to behave in a functioning relationship with children involved, to be honest. There’s a reason why it’s a hard conversation to initiate: you run the risk of being exposed as possibly the most selfish individual to ever progenate.

My eldest daughter is now six, and while my husband does a great deal around the house, I have never returned to working full-time. His career has forged ahead (to our collective benefit) while mine has adapted to the demands of childcare.

I can taste the oppression.

If we want women to flourish, we need to make some concessions.

Might I suggest you take this up with your husband rather than the general public?

But the result – men and women better fulfilling their potential inside and outside the home – is worth it.

If your potential outside the home was anything other than minimal, that’s where you’d already be.

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32 thoughts on “Mother To Please Her

  1. 1. Children need mothers who are mothers.
    2. Men and women bring different strengths and abilities to a family
    3. Both parents have to pull their weight in whatever way they can. For some that means providing time and for some that means providing money.
    This dumb heifer seems to be blissfully unaware of some of the basic facts of (family) life (which Maggie reminded us are basically conservative).

  2. One of the sailing mags ran a series of diaries from a young woman who’d set off sailing round the world with her husband. By her telling she was fiercely independent and insisted on making sure she did he fair share of the work and there was no such thing as “blue” jobs and “pink” jobs. There’s some fairly grim jobs on boats, especially when you live on them for long periods at sea, and she described getting stuck in. She seamed a reasonable person and appears to have been the better sailor, without boasting.

    Along the way she had 2 children in quick succession. In one of the diaries she admitted it all worked much better once she accepted traditional gender rolls (I paraphrase as I can’t remember how she put it).

  3. I was thinking about this whole issue a few weeks ago. Here’s what I came up with. Once a couple is married and has kids, the maximum income tax rate for the married woman falls to 20%. This will encourage more of them to go out and work (hard) whilst the husband can ease back and maybe only have to do 3 days a week. She then gets the privilege of working in an office cubicle (certainly not the insecure world of freelance) whilst the husband can, maybe become a consultant or drop to 25 hours a week. He can then spend time with the kids as they are growing up – which most men I know really do want to do. He can do the school run, followed by the gym. He can also then muck in with a bit of hoovering and cooking (most men I know enjoy the latter).
    If they get divorced, he is then by rights the primary parent, so keeps the house until the kids leave and she has to fund their lifestyle and live in a bedsit. She can see the kids on weekends/every other weekend so he can go out an party with Cherry. We can decide later if her max tax rate goes up to 40% after divorce or not – maybe make it dependent on her funding the family.
    We all know that women can’t navigate the utopia that feminism created so why not just give them what they want – and a bit more.

  4. my husband does a great deal around the house, I have never returned to working full-time. His career has forged ahead (to our collective benefit

    I fear the Guardian has picked the wrong person to write about the unequal weight of labour in this marriage.

    Also, as I have pointed out here previously, there has rarely been a better time to be a freelance writer. It ought to be pretty straightforward to earn enough to pay a cleaner to take on the drudge work. Unless of course her labour is worth less than that of a cleaner…

  5. Housework, writes Megan K Stack in her book Women’s Work, is “a ubiquitous physical demand that has hamstrung and silenced women for most of human history”.

    She makes it sound as if the men were just lazing around doing nothing, rather than going out and doing jobs that were generally some combination of uncomfortable, dangerous, and physically demanding.

    But the tired and outdated breadwinner model is just as limiting for men as it is for women. The pressure men feel to provide for their families means they work long hours and miss out on time with their children in the name of economic security.

    Yes, that’s right, men are victims of society, and I demand my rightful place in the victim hierarchy pyramid!

  6. Why not hire a cleaner? No more fights about who does the cleaning, Now you can fight about who should do the picking up before the cleaner gets there.

  7. Said the selfish feminist: “If we want women to flourish, we need to make some concessions.”

    If we want women to continue to exist in the future, we need women to have (on average) 2.1 children, approximately half of whom are female.

    The fatal flaw in modern feminism is that feminist women have denigrated women who want to be mothers and homemakers, doing the most important job in the world, which is bringing up the next generation. Sadly, feminists seem to believe that their lives are utterly pointless unless they are doing something like stamping bureaucratic forms in a government cubicle farm all day long.

    Now, if an individual woman does not want to do the vital job of creating the next generation of responsible self-sufficient productive citizens, that is her choice and we should all respect it. But we should have more respect for those women who want to focus on the critical job that only they can do.

  8. Why is every personal difficulty you have a function of a deep-seated and deeply immoral social problem, and why must everyone in the world change something about their lives so that you can solve said difficulty? And why do I get the feeling that such an effort by everyone else won’t, in the end, leave you feeling differently anyway?

  9. Sadly, feminists seem to believe that their lives are utterly pointless unless they are doing something like stamping bureaucratic forms in a government cubicle farm all day long.

    This. For some reason (probably a deep self loathing combined with a hatred of men) 50 year old cat ladies have managed to convince several generations of women that, given the choice between raising your own kids in a stable household or being a faceless middle management bureaucrat, they should choose the latter as it is more “fulfilling”.

  10. Let me see if I have this straight.

    *HE* works full time bringing home a steady paycheck that covers the bills and provides a financial safety net.

    *SHE* writes as a paid hobby and spends that money on her and expects him to come home and do half (or more) of the housework.

    “If women want their partners to do more domestic tasks – which would free them up to do more work outside the home”

    No dear, it doesn’t work that way. *Get a job first*. Then, when you’re bringing home the bacon, the husband will be amendable to splitting the duties of maintaining the home. This sounds like the people who say ‘well, my work is shit because you pay me so little. Pay me better and I’ll work better’. No. Show it up front.

    “We’re asking someone to give up their privilege . . .”

    What privilege? *They are working full time*. What are you doing? You’re not working 50 hours a week. So get off your lazy ass and do the dishes. When you’re working 50 hours a week outside the home, then we can talk. Until then, I support you – you support me. By making our home look good.

  11. “Men won’t easily give up a system in which half the world’s population works for next to nothing,” she wrote.”

    What? OMG! Half the world’s population works for half of what their husband brings in. Or, often, most of it. How many dudes turn their paychecks over their wives – who working a managers of their combined household – and then get an ‘allowance’ back?

  12. “Ah yes, those 20th century miners, farmers, fishermen, labourers, warehousemen, soldiers, sailors, construction workers, all fighting tooth and nail to maintain their privilege.”

    The fundamental mistake that feminists made was that while 100% of the positions of power in society used to be held by men, the power those men held was in no way representative of the power the 99.99999% of the rest of men held, in that the 99% were as powerless as all the women were. The fact that David Lloyd-George was PM and his cabinet all men did not save millions of men from being conscripted to face slaughter in the trenches. Nor did male domination prevent men from working like little more than slaves in order to dig coal and produce food in conditions we wouldn’t be allowed to keep a dog today. Its akin to looking at Premier League club’s roster of footballers and concluding that black men of African heritage hold all the power in society, because they dominate the sport and are paid such huge salaries.

  13. When my wife was earning big money, I stayed at home and looked after the children. I did the “male” jobs and the “female” jobs. Only stuff I didn’t do was buy the kids’ clothes and give them baths — that was when they got to have Mum time.

    It was awesome. So much better than working. The cooking and cleaning took a couple of hours a day. The “male” jobs a few hours a week. It was a life of leisure.

    This bitch is just lazy. No-one working part time needs the other one to help with chores in an age of automatic washing machines, non-stop pots etc.

  14. @Chester

    That’s interesting, I am finding out that I am absolutely hopeless around the home and feeling quite inadequate about it all. My wife has been a full time homemaker since my first son was born over twenty years ago and I never once underestimated how important a role she was playing as I was out doing the hard yard in the fast lane and bringing the bacon home.

    Now that I am in retirement mode, I still dont do much around here and certainly have not taken up any more of the load and am acutely aware that its just as well that no one is relying on me to do so. Even jobs that I would do around the place when I was working and squeeze in on a weekend or so, I am finding that I cant even get motivated to do them now either. Worse still things like share investing that were mine and still are, I thought I would be firing on that, I cant even look at my portfolio or invest cash that is sitting there doing nothing at all!

    Maybe if my wife wasn’t around I would step up by necessity, but I just dont know if I have the drive or am any good at all at this kind of thing.

  15. While being mad is a prerequisite to write for The Guardian, many ordinary women are influenced by this dross in that they have a constant feeling that everything is unfair and that they are not appreciated. I see this in couples I know and I find it infuriating, especially when it was the woman who was the one pushing to get married in the first place.
    H.L. Menken says that martyrdom is a woman’s highest aim. Perhaps this is just the modern iteration.

  16. Might I suggest you take this up with your husband rather than the general public?

    Don’t be cruel. I suspect he has enough to deal with already.

  17. “If women want their partners to do more domestic tasks – which would free them up to do more work outside the home”

    Why would that be the aim as opposed to, say, a division of labour whereby one partner is responsible for earning the money and the other for running the household?

  18. With the rapidly changing demographic in Western countries, from incomers bringing what most “enlightened feminists”, and normal people too, would consider medieval attitudes to women, it’s surprising these unhappy women haven’t spotted the gigantic elephant in the room. In comparison, white males are not even 10% of the problem, but the silence (or fear of offending) about Islam is stunning.

  19. We were together for 10 years before the birth of our daughter

    So, you have the male condom, the female condom, IUD’s, Dutch cap, anti spermicidal pessaries, the morning after pill and at least 12 or 14 (depending on the ones licensed in your country) oral contraceptives and if you can’t be arsed to take a pill every day, a 3 monthly subcutaneous injection of hormonal contraceptive plus, in extremis, abortion.

    I’d conclude that YOU chose to have a child. Can’t see any other explanation, other than your self confessed laziness and carelessness.

    It requires saying, “my needs are important too, and what’s best for the family isn’t necessarily best for me”

    Yep. The world in general and your husband in particular owes you a living that YOU want and you should be totally free of any and every obligation to anyone and anything. Sod the family. It is all about MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

    Someone on a blog (it might have been this one) said that girls mature quicker than boys but having said that,they seem to halt their mental development at age 15 or 16 and never grow out of that stage. This bint is proving that point in spades.

    I was in a similar situation as Chester Draws – shortly after I was married, I was made redundant and was unemployed for about 8 months and kept house. The total time spent cooking, cleaning and on laundry would not have exceeded 3 or at the most, 4 hours a day.

  20. “Women have a hard time of it in this world. They are oppressed by man-made laws, man-made social customs, masculine egoism, the delusion of masculine superiority. Their one comfort is the assurance that, even though it may be impossible to prevail against man, it is always possible to enslave and torture a man.”

    HL Mencken

  21. If you were to do a comparison between females in modern monogamous heterosexual relationships and parasites you get a pretty close correlation.

    Not that “correlation is causation” though or even equivalence, but it does strike one as surprising. Most of these bad behaviours are enabled or exacerbated by the state and it’s agents.

    Good place to start solving the problem then, since previously the male-female relationships were more balanced and less problematic.

    Clearly though, I am a misogynistic old white guy, so my views don’t count.

    😐

  22. I reckon The Grauniad could use AI to create these ‘grievance porn’ articles. It must have thousands of them in the archives by now, enough to train a machine learning algorithm on. It could classify by ‘genres’ of grievance; different flavours of entitlement, racism, homophobia, feminism, imperialism, colonialism etc… cross reference for intersectionality, and then automatically generate pieces based on what is trending on twitter. Invent some suitable fake personas to attach to them e.g. Perpetuagrievance Hussein-Goldstein is a freelance writer focusing on the experiences of disabled black Jewish lesbian refugees. Could save a load of money and I bet the people who enjoy this type of porn wouldn’t notice.

  23. Just a though, but don’t married couples talk to each other nowadays. I know we’re of a different generation but the solution to her problem is still the same.

    Before we got married we had a discussion about who’s career we would follow as it wasn’t practical for both of us to have a career – I was in the Army and she was teaching in infants schools. She didn’t particularly like teaching so I was stuck with my career.

    With all the travelling I was doing, more so after I left the Army, I couldn’t commit to cleaning, although I did some of it. Mrs BiND hates cleaning with a passion and much as she disliked teaching she went back teaching part-time partly to pay for a cleaner.

    As my earnings increased she found she didn’t need to work and quit so she could spend more time with our son. This was good because at the time I was away 50% of the time. It also gave her time to develop her art and she has become an accomplished painter based on my earnings giving her enough freedom to develop her skills. Now I’ve stopped work she still pays for a cleaner out of the money she makes selling pictures and teaching painting to adults in her studio.

    Finding a cleaner round here has been quite difficult and we have to pay travel costs as well as the going rate, £11 per hour. I thought that immigration meant that there was plenty of people able and willing to do such jobs in London?

  24. This entire article is just selfish resentment dressed up as a principled appeal against an injustice. Pretty much like every other Guardian article, really.

  25. This entire article is just selfish resentment dressed up as a principled appeal against an injustice.

    That covers the entirety of the socialist/communist spectrum including all the offshoots like feminism, identarianism, etc.

    If people just got on with life instead of looking for grievance or rent seeking, the world would be a happier and more productive place.

  26. Chester Draws (and Phil B for that matter);

    That sounds awfully familiar. It is great. Yer actual “women’s work” doesn’t really take that long; sling the washing in the machine, motorcycle bits in the dishwasher, job done. Do that when nap time comes around, you’ve got a couple of hours completely free.

    Plus, there’s a decent chunk of my paid work that needs to done outside of the client’s normal business hours anyway, when the other half’s around.

    BiND : Reservation wage. How much of that £11 per hour (or the premium over minimum wage) do you need to pay a cleaner, so that they will prefer to be a cleaner over an orchestral bassoonist?

  27. My wife died when our daughter was 4. Since then I have held down a full time job, raised the child (superbly) and managed to keep a reasonably tidy and clean house without and domestic staff to help, apart from after school care. Millions of single parents, men and women, do the same without moaning in the Guardian about how tough life is. I would be happy to give this entitled little whiner a few lessons in household management whenever she’s not too busy spending Hubby’s money on a Prosecco lunch with the girls or sitting in her arse in front of Loose Women.

  28. “That sounds awfully familiar. It is great. Yer actual “women’s work” doesn’t really take that long; sling the washing in the machine, motorcycle bits in the dishwasher, job done. Do that when nap time comes around, you’ve got a couple of hours completely free.”
    _______________

    This. Or something close, anyway. If wimmins are so overworked all the time, who the H^&%*# watches ‘As The World Turns’ or Oprah?

    The simple fact that these TV shows exist and prosper indicates a significant amount of leisure time for the stay-at-home crowd.

  29. “How do you write women so well?”
    “It’s easy. I take a man, then remove reason and accountability” – Jack Nicholson in ‘As Good As It Gets’.

    Her premise is a fallacy. You can’t take work that involves taking care of yourself, your family, your abode, call it ‘non paid’ when that isn’t your profession. That work, that benefits her, has to be done.

    As others have commented, the husband is funding her freelance lifestyle. She doesn’t want to do it, she can get a J-O-B and pay someone to do it.

    What she will find if she does this is that she’ll be working to pay the maid, cook, cleaners, and nanny. My wife figured that after our second kid, with daycare, car payment, and extra income tax burden, she netted a few hundred bucks a month, if there were no surprises. She quit the job, traded the car for an older one plus cash, stayed at home and freelanced. When the kids were in middle school she went back to a full time gig. It hardly interrupted her career track and the kids were far better for it.

    When I was laid off in 2003, I spent 6 months as the house husband. What an easy gig! Get the kids ready and off to school, work out, surf the web, cleanup a bit, do some side work. Pick up the kids, get dinner going.

    What she fails to mention is she’s not working all day every day on domestic chores.

    I’ve zero sympathy for this ingrate. Stay at home parent is an easy, fun gig, especially when the spouse is a decent earner.

  30. Its worth adding that housework used to be a serious amount of time and effort before fridges (shopping everyday), washing machines, dryers, freezers (knocking up more than one meal’s worth when cooking), vacuum cleaners, home delivery of just about every item, cars (walking small kids to school and back), better cleaning products, prepared meals. prepared vegetables and any number of labour saving devices.

    Its easy to have sympathy with her grandmother and maybe mother, but not today’s modern women. Perhaps that’s part of the problem, they’ve too much time on their hands?

  31. Part of my problem with the valuation of unpaid work such as “…value of unpaid work in Victoria at $205bn, half the gross state product” is that the way the value is calculated is ridiculous. Time spent cooking is compared professional chef salaries – Honey I love you, but your cooking is not that great. Time spent driving the kids is compared to professional chauffeurs – Honey thanks for driving the kids, but could you be more careful backing the car out. Time spent doing laundry is compared to dry cleaning – Honey I love you, but please don’t put the red socks in with my white T-shirts. Anyway, you get the idea. The unpaid work performed is rarely of “professional” quality. Furthermore, you can never really complain or criticize unless you want to “do it yourself”. The valuations remind me of those seen on popular programs such as “Dragon’s Den” or ‘Shark tank” whereby earnest but inexperienced people always seem to think there product or idea is worth a lot more than its true market value.

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