As a Lesbian, Ms Bokody is not in the best position to talk about this and her comments are simplistic. She says that bearing a big load of housework suppresses the desire for sex in women.
It is true that libido drops off for both men and women in the course of a long relationship but I not aware that the effect is stronger for women. From many discussions I have had with women, I get the impression that women stay interested for longer.
And I think it is fair to say that all relationships are sui generis. They all involve an explicit or implicit "deal" between the partners. If the wife is satisfied with the relationship that is all that matters. To outsiders a particular set of arrangements may seem unfair but the outsiders are unlikely to know all details of how a couple relate to one-another. If the wife sees the arrangements as unfair there is a problem. But it is for the woman concerned to say that something is unsatisfactory, not outsiders.
Often the role of the male may not be immediately obvious. That the man is on standby to "fix" household devices when they go wrong may not always be immediately visible.
At the risk of lapsing into triviality, the classic situation where a jar with a tightly-fitting lid is handed to the man to open is very well known. And the service provide by the man does not have to be that trivial. In my own case I recently had to deal with two household devices that had ceased to function. My girlfriend identified the problems and promptly handed the devices to me. It took me quite a lot of thinking and fiddling to dismantle the two devices, remove the problem and then mantle them again. The mantling can be the hardest part.
And all the while my girlfriend concentrated on food preparation and cleaning. So was that unfair? Judging by the affection that she later lavished on me, she clearly did not think so. But our relationship is of course sui generis. What works for us may not work for all. All couples have their own explicit or implicit arrangements and understandings. It is not for outsiders to judge them. Matthew 7:1-3.
Every time I think I’ve written the last column I’m going to write about this, the bar for the men who partner with them sinks to an abysmal new low.
Take the TikTok trend captioned, “Things that turn me on as a mum”, in which montages of men performing painfully simple tasks like folding clothes, cooking dinner, and putting nappies on their own babies are synched to a sexy soundtrack and juxtaposed with footage of their eager-eyed wives watching on, barely able to contain their arousal.
The comments sections of these videos are almost as disturbing as the clips themselves – an orgy of women positively charged with erotic excitement collectively exclaim, “#DaddyGoals!” and “Where can I find myself a hubby like that?!!”, punctuating their enthusiasm with heart eye emojis.
You could be forgiven for thinking this was satire – that it mimics the same kind of hyperbolic praise you’d expect a child to receive from a parent after completing their homework – but poking fun of men’s limited participation in housework has become a depressing kind of signature for women on the internet in 2022.
Of course, we aren’t taught to be nonchalant about men’s scant contributions to domestic labour.
We’re conditioned to believe the mere act of being chosen by a man is in and of itself the highest form of acknowledgment of our existence. That, securing a man for marriage is so covetable, it nullifies any self-sacrifice or degradation a woman may have to endure as part of being able to call herself a wife.
Sure, your husband almost never puts the toilet seat down and still thinks it’s cute to leave a halo of his soiled undies on the floor around the laundry basket, however – YOU HAVE A HUSBAND! So what if you have to mother him every so often?
It’s not like he doesn’t care. He’d truly LOVE to help you out with the groceries. But he’s just a man … How is he supposed to know what brand of milk to get, or navigate the complex task of determining the appropriate Tupperware container to stow the couscous away in when he gets home with everything??
I mean, like, he COULD clean the bathroom, but he’s just not as well versed as you are on the sophisticated mechanics of swirling a brush around a toilet bowl and wiping Windex across reflective surfaces. You know you’ll just have to redo it anyway.
Never send a man to do a woman’s job! Amirite, ladies??!
This infantilisation of men isn’t by accident, and it’s certainly not because women get off on mothering their grown adult spouses. It’s the result of wilful, learned behaviour – something some psychologists are now referring to as “weaponised incompetence”.
Originally coined “strategic incompetence” in a 2007 Wall Street Journal article, weaponised incompetence is the act of feigning an inability to understand or complete a task (though it can also include doing the task but deliberately carrying it out poorly), so as never to be asked to do it again.
And it’s so prevalent, the most recent Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (Hilda) survey found that, on average, women do 21 hours additional unpaid labour each week than men.
This was true even when the woman was the breadwinner in the couple, so the old “but he works really hard to bring home the bacon” trope isn’t actually accurate. (This is not even to mention the emotionally, mentally, and physically intensive labour stay-at-home mums carry out in the home that’s still ignorantly deemed “not actual work”.)
The survey, which was conducted in 2019, revealed this gendered gap is most pronounced in heterosexual couples with dependent children, and that the biggest form of unpaid work was housework, closely followed by child-rearing.
I can't resist the temptation to add another anecdote about the male role:
Many years ago, I was sharing an apartment with two lively ladies. They concluded that there was something wrong with the deadlock on their front door and decided to fix it themselves. They took it off the door and opened it up. It promptly went SPROINNGG, as devices using springs tend to do, and scattered its parts around. They just sat there in dismay looking at the disaster.
They did not even look at me. They assumed that as an academic I would be useless at practical things. So I gathered up the parts, mantled the lock correctly and handed it back to them for attachment to the door. They did so very quietly. I later married one of the ladies concerned so I think it can be assumed that my standby services were appreciated. They were not to know that locks have been a minor hobby of mine since childhood. I still fix them.
Years later, when I fixed the lock on another lady's door, she commented: "I didn't think you could do that". She and I ended up having a four-year relationship. She was pretty too.
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