About Me

Musings of a hopeful wanderer.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Looks like I have some catching up to do (as usual).

This week has been a mess of working, finishing up the semester, and trying to get our apartment back in order.  Because we've both been tied to our desks (for those who don't know: Ed is in his last semester of a prestigious online animation program, after which he will likely get a job, move away, and become a surfer and leave me for a girl who doesn't turn into a giant freckle after 10  minutes of sun.  Just kidding about that last part.)

This is the type of thing I've been wearing these last few days at work and I think it's very indicative of my current mood to "keep house."  Y'all, I've been on a cleaning frenzy.  And not just your ordinary cleaning, but the stuff you never want to do, like cleaning out the fridge and dusting the fans.

Dress: thrifted
Top: thrifted via Buffalo Exchange
Shoes: Steven Madden
I also have plans to do a bit more decorating.  We recently decided to stay in the apartment we're in even though we don't really like it because the rent is cheap and Ed's plans after graduating are up in the air.  The walls are dark and the lighting is terrible and because it's tiny, it gets cluttered easily.  I find that when the house is in disarray, we're both grumpier, more irritable, and, most importantly, can never find our stuff.

Full disclosure: I do the vast majority of the cooking, cleaning, and general "housekeeping."  I've been thinking a lot about what the means in terms of labor distribution and power relations.  I am a self-identified feminist and a lot of what I learned in school (I graduated with a B.A. in Women's and Gender Studies) asked us to challenge the so-called "second shift" and the nature of "women's work".  I used to get so angry with Ed that I did most of the housekeeping, even during the 5-month period last year when he was unemployed and I was working 40+ hours a week.  I immediately assumed it was because Ed thought it was my job or he didn't care about the maintenance of the apartment, or didn't value my time as much as his.  Knowing Ed and his own feminist tendencies, this was simply incredulous.

Lately I've been thinking about these dynamics more in-depth.  Frankly, I just like cleaning and cooking.  As soon as possible I plan to maintain a large garden and learn to sew and I know I'll be doing that mostly on my own because, really, Ed doesn't enjoy it.  And yes, that's probably largely in part to socialization and whatnot, but does that mean I should stop doing what I enjoy?  I also think that housework is only "women's work" when it's devalued, or when the woman doing the work feels compelled one way or another to do it, or if she knows that if she doesn't do it, it won't get done.  None of that applies in my household or in my relationship.  Feminism, generally speaking, is about informed consent.  No one, NO ONE, should feel compelled to do anything she or he doesn't want to do--housework included.  And no one should be in a relationship where both partners don't compromise and share responsibilities.  And ultimately, everyone should get to decide what makes them happy, what works to de-stress them, and for me, that is mostly "women's work."

What works for you?  How do you maintain an equitable (not necessarily equal) distribution of labor (and, I suppose if we're being Marxists about it, power) in your relationship?

1 comment:

  1. Great post! In my house, the labor distribution is split fairly evenly when you look at the big picture. I have to remind myself of this fact, because too often I focus on the small picture and it seems like I end up doing the bulk of the housework. In reality, I take care of the small day-to-day tasks. Cooking (which I love), laundry (though we each fold our own), feeding the dogs, straightening up the apartment, sweeping the floors, etc. I have to remind myself that my partner does a lot of the big, not-so-daily things - he vacuums the carpet, washes the dogs, cleans the bathrooms, waters the plants, takes care of the car, and prepares for the apocalypse. (I wouldn't have included that last once except for the fact that he takes apocalypse preparation very seriously.)

    We have a fairly equal, feminist relationship, though we definitely fall into some patriarchy-sanctioned stereotypes. But you're right about informed consent - I recognize when I'm doing something when I want to vs. because I feel like I should. And most of the time, I'm pretty happy with our distribution of labor and power balance. :)