Monday, May 19, 2008

By reader request feminism, and cleaning the kitchen

The endless battle to keep the kitchen clean was on my mind, the other day as I once again found myself up to my elbows in hot soapy water. Entropy is rampant in my kitchen. The kitchen is currently housing four people's cookware and three peoples messes (one roommate is slowly moving out), and this means that things build up very quickly.

Distribution of Labor: Well, we all clean. Some of the chores are divided between Paradox and I: I mop, clean the bathroom, and sweep. Paradox takes the trash out, vacuums, and does the lawn. Are we enacting gendered divisions of labor, since I'm cleaning the bathroom, and he is doing the lawn?

Well, I'm 5' 6", and he is 6'4". I clean the bathroom because I fit better. He takes the trash out because in the past it has been difficult, physically, for me to do so. He likes doing the lawn, and I hate it. Sweeping is almost fun for me.

We both cook, do the dishes, the laundry. We keep house well together. This is a skill not to be underestimated: keeping house well together.

Nothing can ruin a friendship faster or with more acrimony than cohabitating with someone who does not share one's thoughts on maintaining the house. Little things, like how often the bathroom gets cleaned, or weather it is alright to leave dishes in the sink, and who takes out the trash can quickly turn into a vicious war, guerrilla sniping, and "Mutually Assured Destruction" pacts consummated at midnight to the sounds of breaking glass.

So Paradox and I keep house, with an assorted cast of roommates. We each have our chosen sphere of cleaning, and it all gets done. More or less.

I need to mop again, actually.


Keathwick said...

Based on the gender divisions of the colleagues I have heard discuss dish schedules recently (which is, admittedly, a teeny-tiny sample set), female roommates seem more likely to set up dish schedules and other clear divisions of labor while male roommates are more likely to take the
"to each his own" approach. However, not only do I prefer the "masculine" approach, but I have, in the past, followed the philosophy that the kitchen sink is not truly full until you can no longer wash your hands in it (I no longer follow this philosophy, but if a roommate did, I would probably not mind so much). Now that I'm actually looking for a roommate (scouring craigslist), I keep getting slowed down by that ubiquitous roomie requirement, "neat."

Which "neat" is their neat? Does neat mean all-common-areas-remain-functional neat or we-can-see-our-reflections-in-all -metal-surfaces neat? My neat or your neat? We're using the same word, but have no way of knowing if we mean the same thing.

darksteele said...

Hmm, it's interesting. You have established Voice in your blogging. By this, I mean that I hear your voice when I read this. Very intriguing. PING!

Love always,
Chris (Darksteele)