Gentlemen, your attention please. My new public programme will now show you how to dust, shop, cook and clean up after yourselfby Andrew Martin / February 24, 2010 / Leave a comment
In this 40th anniversary of the publication of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch, Martin Amis has been pronouncing on the “battle of the sexes.” His peace plan is that men and women should do “50-50 in the home.” Asked whether he himself does his equal share, he replied, “Well, I do a lot of driving.” But driving, I fear, does not take place in the home.
The men of Britain are like my teenage sons: they have been leaving their clothes in a wet ball on the bathroom floor for far too long. They are now definitely taking the mickey. After researching her book, Hard Labour: The Sociology of Parenthood (2004), Caroline Gatrell concluded that “women bore the brunt of domestic work, no matter how much paid work they undertook,” and that men did no more housework today than they did 20 years ago. Men do more childcare, because they like doing that, and it gives them a chance to pass on the tribal lore from father to son: “You must never do any dusting,” or “If you wee on the toilet seat, don’t clean it up.”
If I ruled the world, I would create a public programme to educate men in housework. But my campaign would be inspired by my own father who, as a widower, had no choice about doing housework. He taught me that it is not unmanly to know that if you’re washing dishes by hand, the water should be as hot as you can stand, and changed regularly. He was not a feminist. Indeed, he taught me it was more effeminate to be dependent on a woman in the home than to do the work oneself.
Accordingly, the tone of the leaflets I would distribute at football matches, in working men’s clubs and betting shops would be terse and manly. Under the bracing strapline “Get It Together, for F***’s Sake,” each leaflet would address a different area of housework. There would be “Vacuuming for Beginners,” which would start:
“There is almost certainly a vacuum cleaner in your home. It may well be in the cupboard under the stairs…”
The reader would then be told how to distinguish between an upright vacuum (it stands upright) and a cylinder vacuum (it is cylindrical). The exciting point would be made that the more vacuuming you do, the less dusting you will have to do subsequently, since you can…