Battlepanda: Let's stop talking dirty and get empirical


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Let's stop talking dirty and get empirical

I guess the end of my previous post on the male/female housework differential kind of touched on the tangent the discussion has developed into:
I have a feeling that both the Stepford Housewife who is more like a high-priestess to the shrine of her immaculate home and the frat-boy who has so many dead pizza boxes in his room that his floor is no longer visible are victims of gendered expectations of behavior.
Both Ezra and Scott of LGM rightly complain that Amanda, Belle (and I) have not addressed the flip side of the coin -- to some degree, the (we agree) troubling phenomenon of women still doing the bulk of the housework in two-salary households is due to the male part of the sketch not pulling his weight, but on the other hand, to some degree, the problem is caused by unreasonably high standards in house cleanliness that is rooted in the sexist assumption that there is a woman at home whose full-time job it is to uphold that standard. It seems rather hard to blame the man for being more immune/oblivious to those assumptions because they weren't inculcated from childhood that their worth would be judged by the picked-upedness of their kitchens.

I do think that this discussion has gotten to the point where it is getting to be more and more of an empirical matter. Like a lot of things. For instance, Americans as a group certainly tend to have more of an obesity problem. But it is also true that unreasonable standards of slenderness accounts for a lot of the negative self-image problems that plague women in particular in this country. Sometimes, it could be a little bit of both. And it's awfully hard to draw the line.

So, with this in mind, here is my personal perception of what's dirty, what's neat, and what's freak-neat. Guys should be frowned upon for not doing their part to keep the household neat, or at least out of the dirty zone. But not for not keeping it spotless. Of course, all this is very personal, and this is just my 2 cents:

Dirty: not cleaning the kitchen floor for more than once a week
Neat: sweeping the floor every couple of days
Neat-freak: Keeping it washed every day

Dirty: Not breaking out the vacuum for weeks on end
Neat: vacuuming every week or so
Neat-freak: vacuuming every day

Dirty: Dishes piled up in the sink overnight, or (gulp) longer
Neat: Dishes piled up in the sink, mostly cleaned up before bed
Neat-freak: No dishes piled up in the sink, ev-ar

Dirty: 75% (non-furnished) floorspace non-visible
Neat: 75% floorspace visible
Neat-freak: <95% floorspace visible.

Dirty: Ceiling fans, hard-to-reach ledges etc. never dusted
Neat: all surfaces gotten to at least during yearly spring cleaning
Neat-freak: White glove treatment

Dirty: Don't remember last time sheets were changed. What's the point of making the bed
Neat: Sheets changed weekly, most of the time. Bed made at some point most days.
Neat-freak: Sheets changed more often than weekly. Bed made right after waking up every day.

I have to say, judging by my own criteria, Gene and I sometimes fall into the 'dirty' catagory. We are especially bad when it comes to vacuuming. But we aspire to neatness, and I think I would be well within my rights to haranguing him into doing more housework to achieve neatness. But I don't, because that would be hypocritical when I am so lazy around the house. We do tend to separate tasks into "specialities" which I think is sensible. He's the bedmaker. When I make the bed, he complains that I do it all wrong. He's also the laundry folder. But I do more in terms of general picking up, I like to think.