The Dishwasher Dilemma February 17, 2012Posted by FCM in authors picks, gender roles, news you can use, pop culture, sorry!, thats random.
Tags: arguments, fighting, housework, marriage
i found this on you tube (obviously). i was actually looking for an episode of “teen mom” where the happy couple was fighting in the car about “having the same conversation over and over.” about cleaning the house. i couldnt find what i was looking for, but its not like its difficult to find examples of that particular argument, which is, in fact, my entire point. you know the one: it goes “you never help me clean the house” then “i do too help you clean the house, i do this, this and this all the time” and then “no you dont, i always do everything and you never do anything unless i nag you about it” and so on and so forth. its as common as…PIV in het relationships, and fights about PIV in het relationships. now, why might that be?
i would really like to write an english-to-radfem translation program for these things, but im not a programmer so…small obstacle there. but i can write about it, so i will.
you see, the very repetitive “housework” fight is about patriarchy! just like everything else. its about women getting constantly shit on by individual men and by men collectively and by mens patriarchal institutions. and if there are no words to express this, its not a coincidence. its very deliberate, this language problem, so that women are literally unable to even frame the issue in a coherent way, and in this case (as in many others) are rendered completely
unable to express their dissatisfaction in reasonable terms that “make sense” (to men and other male-identified persons) mute so that womens reality is never acknowledged, so they never get what they need.
or perhaps more to the point, this language problem functions to ensure that womens reality is never actually actively and obviously discarded, with extreme and obvious prejudice, with an obvious culpable agent making those decisions, where even the men who allegedly love us tell us we can go to hell, to our faces. no, its
never hardly ever that obvious. theres a reason for that. it ensures that we never quite get whats happening here, or gives men plausible deniability when its pretty obvious they are fucking us over, deliberately. so we never give men what they really and actually deserve, which is less than nothing. and so we never see them for what they really are: the enemy. of women.
SO. let me put words to this one, if i may.
the very repetitive “housework fight” is about mental labor, and project management. this has parallels to the work that men do, and that men get paid very well to do, and when men do it, its an actual, real thing, and is a skill that is very difficult to teach, requires intuition and good judgement, and constant vigilance and around-the-clock mental and physical labor (or whatever passes for that in mens world, 9-5 i guess? 8 to 8? that one time some dood couldnt sleep? cry me a river asshats.) project management is one of the highest paid and most prestigious positions men reserve for themselves, because its the hardest and most important, and not everyone can do it, or is willing to do it. so, lets go with that. running a household is project management.
and project management, no matter what the actual project is, refers to both mental and physical labor, and includes that awareness thats always going on in the back of the project managers mind, where she knows the entire layout of the entire project at all times, is attuned to the slightest change and reads the tea leaves constantly to assess whats needed, to avoid potential exacerbations and escalations that will require even more work (and possible catastrophic failures, and snowballing catostrophic failures) down the road, and has many, many schedules running in her head simultaneously. and it necessarily involves delegation of certain duties, especially very menial tasks that even the most unskilled laborer could do. because the project manager’s time is worth more.
dont shoot the messenger, i didnt make this shit up. im just using mens words and mens concepts here, since nobody seems to get it when women use their own words. in fact, it might even be true: certain projects might actually need project managers. its possible i guess? that one seems right to me, having actually worked on projects before, in life. how men deal with this reality and create their hierarchies around it is on them, im just saying.
so anyway. an example of this kind of mental labor is as follows: i watered the plants that need to be watered every month 2 weeks ago; i watered the plants that need to be watered every 2 weeks 2 weeks ago, so…i need to water those plants, but definitely not the other ones, or all the plants will die. and then i will reset the schedule in my mind. that kind of thing.
so the actual watering of the plants is only part of it. its a large part of it, because if all the mental labor happens but the plants dont get watered, we will have a very obvious failure on our hands. but as incredibly important as that is, theres even more to than that, running below the surface that causes those plants to stay alive. so if i ask you to water a plant, and you do it, how much is that really worth? im just asking. you arent the reason that plant stayed alive, now are you? you wouldnt even have known which one needed water, or known which one wouldve died if you watered it just then, without me telling you.
and if i have to fight with you for more than 10 seconds about watering the fucking plant, its a complete waste of my time and i couldve just done it myself. but even if theres no fighting involved and its done immediately, and graciously, its still not like very much of *my* labor was rendered obsolete. you have made my life easier, but only a very little bit. note that the value of the physical labor, and how much of it there really is to do, varies, based on the size of the project.
so. if we borrowed the hierarchies that men use when they are talking about their own projects, and applied them to the example of the household, the men would be the unskilled labor, who only make a dollar an hour (or whatever) because thats all their labor is really worth. you know, according to themselves. and yet, rather inexplicably, they act like they deserve their own personal superbowl-victoryesque parade dedicated to all the awesome that is THEM, for watering a plant, and performing other very unskilled labor, when, in applying their own hierarchies, the work they just performed is only worth a dollar. and when you give them the dollar, they act like the dollar is a penny.
this is really about mens dishonesty, and using and framing womens labor in a way that they would never use and frame mens labor, because it supports male power and damages women to do that, and thats what men do, and they never stop. and they take away womens ability to express their reality, through disingenuous issue-framing and controlling language, because it supports male power and damages women to do that, and thats what men do and they never stop. and women dont like this reality. and men do. thats what this fight is really about.
men are so impossible!
YES, yes they are, if by “men” you mean “the het partnership in a patriarchy, from women’s perspective.” its based on lies, and in the case of the housework dilemma, its literally impossible to reconcile this one. it is literally impossible to explain or confront this in a way which is consistent with maintaining the relationship, or maintaining the heterosexual partnership in general, at all. and *thats* where advice-columnists go off the rails. even “dear momma” pulls her punches on this one big time: she tailors her advice so that its consistent with maintaining the relationship. its advice with an agenda. in reality, this one cannot be reconciled.
i hope this is helpful to someone.
PS. heres “dear momma” on PIV. its pretty good. no fun for whom indeed.