Cleaning is a feminist issue

My house mate moved out last weekend. He was a nice enough chap, but 90% of the reason I took him on was because he didn’t have the ‘all aboard the murder train’ expression of the other people that came to look round. ‘Yeah so there’s a dishwasher and….’ ‘and is there a wardrobe in which I can hang my new suit? Made of your skin?’. I was worried before he moved in though, because he was a 21 year old lad, away from home for the first time. To be honest I don’t think he would ever have unclamped his teeth from his mother’s nipples if he hadn’t been forced to relocate for work, and therein lies the problem with some men.

men sofa

Many have been brought up to think it’s OK to sit in their scratty pants, playing playstation, while their mummys flit around making them sandwiches and  cooing into their greasy hair. It is 2013 for fucks sake, and there are still men out there who don’t know how to turn on the washing machine at the age of 21- find me a woman who couldn’t manage that by their teens. Me and my friends left home able to cook a roast dinner, clean the inside of a microwave, paint a bedroom, and negotiate even the most middle class of recycling systems. When my house mate moved in he had to ask me how to do the following things: turn on the microwave, mop the floor, empty the bin, dust, or evidently flush the toilet. He never used the hob, in 9 months, because he didn’t know how (or how to cook). But yet he wasn’t stupid- he could drive, and had made himself a fuck load of money at his accountancy job as he’d not had to pay rent since he started work at 17. He had been coddled like a big, steroid filled baby in a Jack Wills t-shirt. It wasn’t just that he was lazy (although he was) but that he genuinely didn’t know that things needed doing, or how to do them. I asked him to clean the bathroom twice in those 9 months, and both times I had to talk him though it step by step, step 9 being ‘I FUCKING WILL PUNCH YOU IN THE COCK’.

cleaning manI know mums of boys, and when you ask them why their progeny are useless overgrown versions of those potatoes you go cress out of so it looks like hair, they just mist over and go ‘ahh well they’re my babies!’. Correct me if I’m wrong ladies, but if your mums were asked that would they give the same answer? Or would they explain that they had been bellowing at you all red-faced to empty the bloody dishwasher since you were old enough to wipe your own arse? My house mate wasn’t a one off. I’ve had countless boyfriends (no really, I’ve had LOADS) who have expected me to work the same amount of hours as them and yet do all the household chores. It probably doesn’t help that my type is ‘needy controlling drug addict’, but some of the things I’ve had to do for men because they were too lazy is astonishing. One boyfriend demanded that I bring him his tea, and when I told him to fuck off, he pissed in my underwear drawer ‘for a laugh’ pretty funny to be fair. Another, that was a sort of live in disaster/mooch/alcoholic, wasn’t a fan of washing or looking after himself in any way. At one point, I had to bribe him with a cooked breakfast so that he would let me shave his beard into a carrier bag (he was on too much of a comedown to move from the sofa). I’d swing wildly between begging him to help me out, and stubbornly leaving it, thinking he’d give in when it got to a certain level of mess. But obviously he never did, and I’d spend about 6 hours jif-ing his pubes out of the shower.


The worst part is that I have spent my entire life watching my mum and dad in the same situation. My dad (and I bloody love him, but when it comes to this he’s a prat) recently told me that in 23 years of marriage, he’s never cleaned the fridge. I reckon it needs doing about once every 3 months at a bare minimum, so that means my mum has cleaned it 92 times versus his big old zero. He will tell you that it’s because he doesn’t mind living in mess, so he doesn’t botherpretty-cleaning-lady-crying-thumb23788298 cleaning. This is a particularly male brand of bullshit; what they really mean is they’re happy living in mess until their mates come round, or they get food poisoning, or they run out of clean socks. What it really means is not that they don’t see it, or they ‘like’ mess, but that they are unthinking and unthoughtful. Surely knowing that my mum worked two jobs and did the vast majority of the childcare would make my dad do most, if not all of the cleaning. Knowing that their laziness frustrated me to tears on occasion would have made my boyfriends help me tidy up. But they will keep on throwing out antiquated tosh like ‘women are just obsessive about cleaning’- some women maybe, but most of us are very normal about it. We clean because we are GROWN UPS. We take the bin out because if we don’t, massive baby eating rats will get in the kitchen. We wash our clothes because if we turn up to work every day with curry down our shirts we will probably get fired, and people will move away from us in the co-op queue with a disgusted look on their faces.

We are expected to be self sufficient from a young age, and I don’t think it’s been about preparation for a lifetime of marigolds and urinary incontinence since the 50’s. I think it’s because we have to do it, or no one else will. It’s learn to clean or cook, or be filthy and hungry. Many men are still being treated like we’re all in mad men, with their wives offering up a sparking kitchen, a casserole and a vagina when they get in from winning big accounts and smoking 50 fags a day. But now we work as much as they do- although, of course, we still earn less. So what’s the solution? Find one of the good ones who do cook and clean if it kills me. And if I have a son, he will learn every single thing alongside his sisters. If I notice he’s got a girlfriend and he’s being a lazy little bastard, I will tell her to dump him. But not before she’s gone for a giant, steaming piss in his underwear draw.

4 responses to “Cleaning is a feminist issue

  1. I love it that my housemate and I have a cleaner to come in every fortnight. We are not slobs but I guess it makes sense since I am away for work most of the time and I don’t think he’s the cleaning type. What I do give him major credit for is always doing the dishes even when I hadn’t made dinner. He doesn’t cook but I don’t mind because I love doing it. 🙂

  2. In my relationship, I do all the housework. Of course, I’m also a stay-at-home dad at the moment, but I did all the housework even before that when we had a more normal and shared work life out of the house. I’m a type A person when it comes to a lot of things, but I’m also a softy when it comes to women so I’ve never minded doing the housework, even though I get sick of it sometimes.

    I have honestly never understood the problem with men who won’t clean, or who think it’s “women’s work”. Get off your ass and clean something! And while you’re at it, be more appreciative of all the women in your life who have never gotten the thanks they deserve for all the hard work they do that goes unappreciated.

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