Women 'secretly enjoy doing household chores'

Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) cooks up a storm in Season Two of HBO's <i>Girls</i>.

Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) cooks up a storm in Season Two of HBO's Girls.

New Year’s Resolution #1: put myself first by indulging in the joys of monotonous, never-ending and unpaid domestic work. Said no one ever.

The one exception might be UK TV presenter and ‘domestic goddess’ Kirstie Allsopp who has bravely stood up for women everywhere by defending their right to clean toilets and iron their husband’s undies.

Allsopp, 42, who is famous (well, English tabloid famous) for upskilling clueless women with shows such as Kirstie's Homemade HomeKirstie's Handmade Britain, and Kirstie's Crafty Christmas, has revealed that women love the drudgery of domestic work.

"I'm not doing the ironing because I have to, but if I get a chance, I find it immensely therapeutic," she told UK's Daily Telegraph.

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What a relief it is to hear somebody finally speak the truth after all those years of feminism depriving women of the pleasure of scrubbing their floors.

In fact, Allsopp, who no doubt would mistake the Feminine Mystique for a new brand of fabric softener, claims that domestic work is critical to working women’s mental health.

"I'm absolutely convinced that those repetitive tasks that one does everyday, organising and regularising one's home, and keeping it tidy, is enormously therapeutic," she says.

According to the Telegraph, "[T]o know that their child is going to school with clean hair, clean teeth, clean uniforms, and their house is clean is what keeps her sane."

If we all love cleaning so much, why then is the inequality of domestic work one of the major sources of conflict in relationships?

Far from being outraged, if Allsopp is right women should feel lucky that they get to do an average of 311 minutes per day of domestic work, while their blokes only do 172 minutes.

I guess that’s those pesky feminists again: there’s no pleasing them.

Fortunately, Allsopp has some advice for all those ladies who have strayed from their true calling of sock folding.

"It’s why the whole “me time” thing annoys me," she tells the Daily Mail. "All those women who harp on about needing their own identity. For God’s sake, just get on with it."

Who needs the hassle of manly things like an identity, financial independence and intellectual stimulation when you can stay at home and impress your friends with your new Glade scent?

With a partner, two children and two step-children, you’d think Allsopp would be able to indulge in the joys of ironing, washing and cleaning from dawn to dusk without looking for other little projects to occupy herself while she waits for her man to come home.

Interesting, then, that she doesn’t practice what she preaches. With her nine TV shows, three books, one app and an extensive home wares range I’m betting she doesn’t get around to doing that much housework anymore — therapeutic or otherwise.

Like many other anti-feminist professional domestic goddesses, Allsopp’s hypocrisy stinks worse than hospital grade Domestos. She has made a career out of convincing other women that they should abandon any ambitions of developing a career of their own and instead content themselves with doing the cleaning.

Personally, I hate domestic work; I love a clean house, but I love the process of cleaning about as much as l loved my root canal.

But I’m perfectly willing to concede that there may be some people, somewhere in the world who enjoy it. I can also understand how, given the choice, some people may prefer the solitude and predictability of cleaning rather than, say, bathing a tired and feral toddler.

But presenting domestic work as women’s secret little pleasure — rather than one of the major sources of inequality and disempowerment — does nothing to further the cause of women. The only beneficiary here is the ever-expanding media and publishing empire that Allsopp — and her fellow housewife entrepreneurs — is building.

Let’s be honest. Housework is called housework because it’s just that: work. It’s just that some women and their financial backers are getting paid for it, while the rest of us aren’t.

 

Kasey Edwards is the best-selling author of 4 books 30-Something and Over It, 30-Something and The Clock is Ticking, OMG! That's Not My Husband, and OMG! That's Not My Child. www.kaseyedwards.com

 

 

84 comments

  • Was she commenting for all women?
    It sounds like she believes us gals would be much happier if we made whoopee with the vacuum cleaner, while grouting our home-made mosaic coffee-table, instead of reading or building bridges or...

    Commenter
    Ronnie
    Location
    QLD
    Date and time
    January 07, 2014, 8:11AM
    • Can you all please take a reality check. Allsop is just exploiting a market to make money, just like Apple or Facebook exploit those who desire to be popular.

      Like most TV presenters they start within their own area of expertise (real estate) and then move on to unrelated areas wherever the current market is.

      Her comments and apparent tweeness are all part of the marketing game. Good on her for being successful at it.

      Commenter
      Man I'm Fine
      Date and time
      January 07, 2014, 11:58AM
    • @Man I'm Fine: I disagree. Her statements can be used as ammunition against women and proof that women are all pining for a return to a traditional household with all attendant duties. For those of us who do not want this lifestyle it is very difficult to swallow someone marketing women's lives in this manner.

      Commenter
      TK
      Date and time
      January 07, 2014, 3:04PM
    • @Man I'm fine, puh lease that is way too rational.

      Commenter
      lizzy
      Date and time
      January 07, 2014, 3:32PM
    • "For those of us who do not want this lifestyle it is very difficult to swallow someone marketing women's lives in this manner."

      I assume it's much the same for those women who genuinely enjoy being a 'housewife' and are constantly told they are letting down the cause of women.

      Or, for that matter, all those unambitious men who are constantly told by society that they are failures because they aren't striving to achieve the pinnacle of success in life.

      Just because you don't like the message isn't license to halt the message itself.

      Commenter
      DM
      Date and time
      January 07, 2014, 3:47PM
  • I am sure that if she actually had no choice but to do all required housework for her large household she would not be so enthusiastic about it. If she had no time for her business activities because of the demand of her therapeutic home life she would start to resent the burden of it, and possibly her husband, as well as the financial losses. Obviously she cannot extend her mind to thinking of what that might be like.

    Commenter
    LJanes
    Date and time
    January 07, 2014, 8:14AM
    • Sane! No, I had another mini-meltdown on the weekend because of the household chores better known as the second shift. Working all week and then cleaning, washing, ironing is not my idea of a good time. BUT while the chores don't thrill me I do like the look of a clean house where for at least one day it sparkles and is neat. I'm also not much of a fan coming home and cooking but I like a nice homecooked meal and I'm somewhat chuffed when hubby waxes lyrical over my latest offering.

      Dilemma, Dilemma.

      While I don't really get off on the day-to-day stuff when I'm on annual leave I like to do a bit of a spring clean and I pick a cupboard or two and tidy it up. All the rubbish is gone and everything is organised. I do find it therapeutic but the idea that this should be the most fulfilling thing I could ever do is nonsense to me. For the most part housework is bloody boring.

      Commenter
      Ripley
      Location
      Hunting Aliens
      Date and time
      January 07, 2014, 8:18AM
      • That link to the study does not work for me, but 311 minutes? that's more than 5 hours! ON AVERAGE!. Me and my wife share the chores but about an hour and a half to two hours each and that includes looking after a 9 year old. You're seriously telling us that the OECD are saying that house work takes a combined 8 hours a day?

        Commenter
        John Holmes
        Date and time
        January 07, 2014, 8:18AM
        • good to see somebody else can add up

          Commenter
          kellybellyfonte
          Date and time
          January 07, 2014, 10:13AM
        • Many of these "studies" tend to include the running time of appliances.

          The dishwasher takes 50 minutes for a full cycle. The washing machine takes 70 minutes for a full cycle. The dryer takes 40 minutes for a full cycle.

          Of course, we all "must" iron underpants and socks and t-shirts and jeans (not really - the only thing worth ironing is business shirts; suits get dry-cleaned) and baby clothes so add that time to the list.

          They also don't take account of work men do outside such as mowing lawns (a few hours every fortnight), cleaning gutters, washing paths, cleaning bins, looking after cars etc.

          All in all, it's a ridiculously confected amount of time. Housework barely takes me an hour every week. A quick vacuum; stack the dishwasher; clean out the shower recess; load and unload washing machine and then hang up the clothes. Ironing is done by a drycleaner as it's about $15 for 5 shirts and saves an extra hour.

          Commenter
          Bender
          Date and time
          January 07, 2014, 12:26PM

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