Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wms Wrk

As an only child, I experienced a degree of entitlement when it came to chores that few, if any, of my peers ever experienced (save for that Asian kid in middle school who, in retrospect, I now believe to be Kim Jong-Un). Given that I still live at home I still live in the veritable lap of non-housework-related luxury. Though I do pay rent and I do financially contribute to the household, there is precious little housework that my mother expects me to do. This fortuitous arrangement, to be perfectly honest, works for me.
Well, this arrangement worked for me until I discovered how much I like to do housework. The past few weeks, I have been diligently cleaning the house on Sunday afternoons, scrubbing the floors on my hands-and-knees like a hipster Cinderella, instructing my perturbed mother on the proper way to remove persistent soap scum from around the bath. Basically, I have become insufferable at the weekend.
As I wrote previously, I adopted a pug two months ago and, not unlike some irksome parent who childproofs everything, I have been engaged on a one-nebbish crusade against potentially pug-toxic products in my home. This campaign has made me terrified to drink caffeinated beverages in front of her (coffee and tea are poisonous for dogs!), bring anything chocolate in the house (POISON!), or even to wash her harness in anything but biodegradable, organic, hippy detergent (everything else is MEGA POISON!). So, I spend the better part of my Sunday, scrubbing down my house from top to bottom in hippy soap so my pug doesn’t live in a toxic environment and, I don’t know, sprout an extra dew claw. Though understandably annoyed about the new heights in insufferableness I have achieved, my mother has allowed me this particular bit of insanity if, for no other reason, than the joy she derives from watching me tear around the house like a deranged Mr. Belvedere.
All kidding aside, however, I have been thinking about the significance of my newfound interest. For me, cleaning the house is a faze; were I not concerned about the wellbeing of my fur child, odds are I would be spending my Sunday watching Twin Peaks on DVD, you know, like I do on Saturday. Because I am an only child of an incredibly indulgent Type-A parent, I can get away with such laziness. Also, because our house is a matriarchy, I don’t have to navigate any icky division-of-labor-binary-gender-roles type situations; rather, if I want to clean the house, that’s my choice. When, inevitably, I get lazy or want to stream B*A*P*S on a Sunday—you know, as one does—my sloth won’t raise much of an issue. Even if my mother went on strike and refused to clean the house, I could probably afford to hire a maid a couple of times a week if I was to buy fewer lattes or a less bourgeois brand of tea. I have OPTIONS. I have CHOICES.
This has gotten me to thinking: why is the division of household labor still such a touchy subject with so many? Why do so many women still do a vast majority of the housework in their households, even if their partners are willing for a more equitable arrangement? Why has the negotiation of this gender role been so difficult? Why, of all of the gendered barriers that have been scaled, has this one been the sticking point?