A letter to...
My partner – here we are again, arguing about the housework …
Who has done what, who does more, how we are going to make things better. I never said that you didn’t lift a finger; you do lots of housework. You are a wonderful, considerate, modern, feminist man. But the imbalance is still there. You get angry when I say that
I see our problem within the context of the gender divide, as symptomatic of our sexist society. You accuse me of being patronising, which is upsetting, but also rather ironic, don’t you think?
I have spent so much time thinking about this problem – intellectualising, analysing and raging while I hang up your clothes and mine; while I scrub the toilet; while I pick up things from the bedroom floor. I have Googled it, read endless articles, revisited classic feminist texts and turned to more recent self-help books about “dropping the ball”. I have complained in my diary, sought advice from friends, men and women, gay and straight. Sometimes, I have just given up, stopped doing all but the bare minimum and hoped you would notice and take the hint. I used a work-tracking app to clock the hours I spend doing housework and showed you the result. I sent you articles about it, and even a cartoon. I have made jokes and snippy comments. I have spent time composing polite, jokey, passiveaggressive, or plain aggressive text messages. I have carefully planned what to say and how to say it.
We have discussed it at length, of course. Timidly, calmly and rationally, the first few times. Later on, I shouted in fury and thought, “He has really heard me this time.” We have had meetings, summits and powwows. But we have continued to argue. I have cried more than once; I think you have too.
I thought if I could make you understand how much time I spend doing it, how it leaves me feeling my time was worth less than yours, that it got in the way of my work, that it made me resentful towards you, that it was a result of our social conditioning by the patriarchy, that it made me worried about what would happen when we have children, that it was such a cliche; that it was just plain unfair, you would change your attitude and behaviour.
II thought if I could make you understand how it leaves me feeling my time is worth less than yours, you would change
asked you to make a list, and I made one too and we argued about what should be done, when and how often. I found a chore app and asked you to download it too, and then I programmed the jobs we had agreed on. I thought the fact that you could earn points for completing tasks would bring out your competitive side and the scores would make things more transparent. But stuff still seemed to pile up and you weren’t a fan of rotas. Your score: 92; mine: 174. As I said, you do lots, but it is still not equal and I still feel taken for granted.
So what now? The resentment is becoming a burden. I am boring my friends, and running out of solutions. And we seem to be having the same argument over and over. I need you to admit that I do more than you, that it is unfair, and you have been enjoying the male privilege of doing less and caring less about domestic work. And I need you to do and care more. Will you ever meet me in the middle?