Our association of domestic labour with women is so ingrained that it’s hard to see it’s a social construction rather than an immutable natural phenomenon. In her new film Joy, Jennifer Lawrence’s character has her big idea – a self-squeezing mop – while cleaning up someone else’s glass of spilled red wine. The responsibility doesn’t fall on her ex-husband, who bought the booze (in contravention of strict instructions to stick to white) or the person who spilled it. It falls on the nearest available mother.

Of course, it is possible to make a class-based argument against having a cleaner – that there’s something alienating or repulsive about offloading inconvenient tasks to those lower down the income chain. But if that’s the standard, we are wildly inconsistent about applying it.

[…] For the last few years I’ve been trying an experiment. I speak at a lot of feminist events, and often these involve an all-female panel. Often, a man pops up in the Q&A, or buttonholes me afterwards to ask why feminism has to make men feel so unwelcome. Aren’t men’s contributions valuable? Absolutely, I cry with all the fake enthusiasm I can muster – and there is one, huge contribution that men can make to feminism: the washing up. Or the laundry, I’m easy. Or going part-time while the kids are small.

At this point, the light in their eyes tends to die. It turns out that when they said they wanted men to be involved in feminism, what they actually meant was “have someone listen to their ideas about what feminists are currently doing wrong”. Not do a load of boring unpaid work in return for absolutely zero praise. But as a 2012 report for the IPPR put it: “On most key issues, the route to modern feminist goals must pass through fathers. Men should work more flexibly, take greater responsibility for caring for their children and their homes, and have the right to reserved parental leave.”

I don’t blame men for taking one look at this proposition and thinking thanks, but no thanks. Over the last 50 years female participation in the workforce has increased enormously, and the benefits to women are clear: more economic power, and more of the freedom that brings. You might even call it empowering, if that word didn’t make me want to beat myself to death with a Spice Girls CD. No such incentives apply to the idea of doing more unpaid labour in the home.

© and read the rest: theguardian (posted using inoreader/ ifttt).


p class="wordpresspost">(Excerpt etc. first posted on feimineach.com. Orig. attribution above.)

Yes, there is one great contribution men can make to feminism: pick up a mop