January 17, 2016

"I don’t fix things. I don’t build things. I don’t get us where we’re going."

"Without meaning to, I began to embody the stereotype of the helpless female. A stereotype I hate.... I wonder if I’m still capable of doing all the things I did when I was single, or if, leaving them to Steve, I’ve forgotten how. The journey from acting helpless to being helpless is a short one...."

From "I know how to use a hammer. So why do I let my husband do everything around the house?/Before marriage, I could rebuild a toilet. Now I don't know where the trash bags are." in The Washington Post.

25 comments:

Michael K said...

An interesting essay. I spent 25 years with a woman who did nothing at home. I cooked, paid the bills and everything else. I had gotten divorced from my wife and was kind of traumatized; then I could not get out of the relationship. It was like having another daughter. Finally, I made the move and now I am back with my ex-wife. She cooks and teases me about asking her whether she has vegetables planned for dinner. I am slowly learning to let someone else do it. We are both in our 70s and it feels like being home again.

robinintn said...

Of course she could still do those things, but if she admits it, how would she spin "I'm married to a great guy" into "Poor me; I'm a victim of the eeeeevil patriarchy"?

Moneyrunner said...

Because she's a woman. That's how they roll.

Marcus said...

I can't find much of anything in my home because my wife rarely puts anything in the same place reliably. Annoyingly, SHE is annoyed when I ask her where things are. Even more annoying is she doesn't know where she put the last batch of household goods are.

Rocco said...

Most of the stuff she mentioned in the article that she did before marriage is stuff that that my parents expected any competent adult -male or female - to be able to do.

She mentioned 3 things that guys were expected to do that girls were not necessarily expected to do:
- Restart the pilot light
- Fix a toilet
- Hook up the water line for a Fridge.

rhhardin said...

It's interest, not talent.

Male stuff sustains the interests of males, female stuff sustains the interests of females.

That's not feminist dogma, so it conflicts with feminism, hence the essay.

Feminism ought to on the contrary start with differing interests. If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution, to quote Emma Goldman.

bob sacamano said...

Husband could not be reached for comment...busy doing stuff.

Bob Ellison said...

I keep complaining to my wife that I taught her how to cook most of the meals our family likes: tomato-meat sauce for pasta, tacos, curry, kung pao chicken. She denies this, and now she does them better than I.

She'll get my baguettes and smoke-cooked pulled pork when she pries them from my cold, dead hands.

gilbar said...

Rocco said: "She mentioned 3 things that guys were expected to do that girls were not necessarily expected to do:
- Restart the pilot light
After asking a (male?) friend how to do it
- Fix a toilet
She admits she it did WRONG, had to get plumber to fix
- Hook up the water line for a Fridge."
Flooded House and had to ask (male!) brother for instructions

Bob Ellison said...

Women do, I think, as a species, tend to be interested in nurturing and sustaining people around them. They tend to be good at it and not so much into the technical nature of it as men. Women tend to want to be tender.

A male nurse, working on my severely dehydrated body, once told me something like I'm just gonna put two IVs in you, and he did it in about three minutes, with saline going down from both. Worked wonders. To him, it seemed like a challenge.

A female nurse might have been more likely, by nature, to have gone with one IV and treated my distress and other, secondary symptoms. That might have worked, but probably not as quickly.

I've got quite a few stories on medical treatments that work and those that don't. Don't get me started. They're not all gender things.

n.n said...
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n.n said...
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n.n said...

She sounds incapable of holding an adult conversation. Perhaps it would be better if she negotiated exclusively with hammers, toilets, trash bags, etc. At least until she reaches adulthood and stops playing with dolls and other subhuman objects.

To be fair, both men and women can exhibit a Peter Pan Syndrome, but our society has progressed to normalize the female variant, which has been detrimental to human relationships and babies too.

Doug said...

Women are silly, lightweight, and ever so angry when (male) people won't say they are equal to men in every single way.

Unknown said...

Neither Sarah Palin nor Camille Paglia would be impressed.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

My husband's first wife had an interesting interpretation of gender roles. In her calculation, "how dare you expect that I cook and clean just because I'm a woman you sexist pig!" but curiously she did not feel motivated to achieve outside the home or earn a living, so other than a few short lived jobs here and there, she was a housewife for 25 years, childless, who did not cook, clean or otherwise take care of the home. She occasionally roused herself to do a little laundry and sometimes picked up groceries, but her husband (now my husband) worked sixty hours a week and then came home and did everything else, while she maintained a grueling schedule of watching TV, smoking pot, and puttering around with her "business" which was selling crafts online which she assembled while watching TV and smoking pot. His fault for putting up with it, but she does have a diagnosed personality disorder and he learned early on that putting up with it was far easier than the alternative.

I agree with Althouse's previous writings on this topic. If it's doable, it's so lovely to have one person earning the living and another person who uses his or her time to care for any children present and to also be responsible for the lion's share of maintaining a home that is a pleasant haven of rest, order and beauty for its occupants. I do the majority of that as my husband earns our living, but there are a few things I simply do not enjoy doing which he is glad to handle around his work. I don't care for fixing things, for example; I can when needed, but he and I a both happier when I just say, "Can you attend to that when you get a minute," because he does like doing that. I don't lose any sleep over what I should or shouldn't be doing. We just split it all up the way we like.

aritai said...

I don't get it. Why is the value of division of labor such a bad idea? Either by optimizing return to the group, or , gasp, doing what an individual does best or enjoys more? Isn't this is what gave us rt. Honorable Iron Lady Thatcher? Who sent a condolence letter to the family when the last striking coal miner died? Didn't hear many deriding her husband. Stalin's boules yet to be matched. I wonder if we'll come to the same conclusion about pTb? What, "rules mean something, worse, common-sense means more?" The horror, the horror. Might it be that his strength comes from strong women? He's never shown fear of those smarter than he. Employee or partner. Even if he is a serial polygamist. They knew his strengths and amplified them, and helped him redirect his excess energy, if not libido. Something Mr. H could have used, rather than turning that testosterone into the largest coalition of countries in the world, ever, including that assembled by Mr. Bush-1 for Gulf-1, dedicated to eliminating communism and saving billions from lifetimes bad shoes, if not slavery or worse in the gulags, and eliminating those he knew were smarter than he, though not more popular than he, save they weren't smart enough to keep themselves armed and ready. Imagine how stupic they felt when it was too late and Kristallnacht was upon them. Darwinism at its worst and best. A lesson learned late, but still learned with a vengeance. Was in Haifa not too long ago. Amazing seeing well armed babes in bikinis on the beach good for my old soul, raising my heart rate. Good thing that can't happen here. Then I wouldn't be afraid while walking alone, in the dark, in the southern parts of D.C. where it's not race but jobs that divide those that do crime from those that suffer from it. Makes it easy to understand why there's so much diversity in his rallies, even more than Ms. H's. She's incapable of creating an environment where people can take pride in their work. Show me one government buracrat that is really proud about their work, or doesn't think they deserve more money and larger organization for doing less each year. god's challenge to Lot. Seems up until pTb we've all been turned to salt. Worse, not even good enough to be used for a deer's salt lick. No wonder the establishment on both sides and their enablers are shaking in their Gucci boots. What, hold me accountable? Congress included? That's beneath me, red slips are only for the proles.

Big Mike said...

And the truth is, I once would have fixed it myself.

So either ask Steve to do it, ask him where the tool box is so you can fix it, or quit whining about it.

If her problem is that she needs her own tool box, I'm sure Steve will be okay with that. I would be.

Sheesh.

n.n said...

I Have Misplaced My Pants:

The work done to create value (e.g. taxable activity, labor exchange) in the market is or should be [considered] comparable to the work done to create value (e.g. raise children, household maintenance) at home, and each responsibility can be shared circumstantially, variably over the course of a lifetime.

I never understood the hostility or inability of couples to reconcile their differences and interests. It sounds like you and your husband have identified the right priorities and found a common ground.

Freeman Hunt said...

My husband likes to keep tools on a peg board. I like to keep them in a box. Therefore, we each have our own set of tools.

Joe said...

I Have Misplaced My Pants:

Hold it, I'm not married to you...

loudogblog said...

Doing repairs and working with tools is what we call "work." I'm not surprised that someone would defer work to someone who offers to do it, but don't complain about it. Having control over our personal technological environment is essential to having a happy life. Some people like to battle with the plumbing and electrical and some people are content to have their partners do it, and some just hire it all out. A relationship is about the distribution of important duties in the household. If it works,it works.

Freeman Hunt said...

The relative disarray of a box is overcome, in my opinion, by the portability.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Don't know if it's a male thing or just the way I was brought up, but I am far more efficient than my wife. She's not in the least lazy, but confronted with a task she sees the immediate and not the whole. Consequently she's not as effective at any given task as I am, particularly the relatively complex ones. She's done a fantastic job of raising our children but I worry how she'll live independently when I slip this mortal coil before she does.

Kyzernick said...

Freeman Hunt - my wife and I both have 2 sets of our tools. I've got one on pegs and in my tool rack, and another, smaller set in my toolbox. She has crafting supplies on pegs and in drawers in her craft nook, and also a box of duplicate tools for when she goes on a crafty adventure with friends. We both see the beauty of each system, and thanks to birthday and holiday gift cards we managed to more or less duplicate both of our tool sets.