Doing the Laundry… On Feminism & Domesticity

I have a confession to make… I like doing laundry.

There is something very soothing about sorting the clothes, putting the washing on. Then later hanging up the clothes and finally folding it all neatly and putting it away. Maybe while listening to one of my favourite pod casts or some great music.

Of course doing laundry is a necessary part of life (for most of us anyway), so when on my own it was never problematic for me. Once in a relationship, however, I would feel differently. Because I’d still enjoy doing laundry. I would even enjoy doing *shock* his laundry too.

And that made me feel really guilty. It made me feel like I was somehow betraying feminism. Because feminism is supposed to make us all equal right? And to free women from having to do all the household chores, while men just put up their feet and relax.

But there I was, actually enjoying doing laundry for a man.

What was wrong with me? How could I betray the work done by thousands of women to free us all from the expectations of patriarchy?

At the end of the day though, feminism is about equality and choices. Being with someone else doesn’t mean that the laundry will all of a sudden begin doing itself. Nor will the dishes clean themselves, or the toilet be scrubbed on its own.

It only makes sense that the fair and egalitarian way of dealing with these issues would be to share them. Which naturally means that you will end up having to do your fair share of chores, so might as well (try to) enjoy them. (Incidentally I can’t stand vacuum cleaning, so I always try to get out of that).

4 Comments

  1. Sara

    I love to cook and I also really enjoy cooking for my boyfriend. I’m good at it, he’s not, I enjoy it and I know how to make all kinds of exciting and unusual foods, or how to modify most recipes to fit any dietary need. Because it is something that I do well and am talented at, sharing that with him makes me feel like I’m sharing kindness, or a gift.

    Feminism is about having choices and I am thankful every day for the way that our predecessors paved for us, and I love making progress in my own way for all the girls and women in the future. I think what’s important to remember is that you don’t *have* to do his laundry and I don’t *have* to cook for him. These are options for us, and it’s not an expectation or an assumption when in a time past, the idea of us not doing it wouldn’t have been considered.

    If you ever feel like you have to do his laundry and if I feel like I have to make his dinner, then we’ve lost choice, and we probably wouldn’t get as much pleasure out of something we couldn’t opt out of, right? And if we enjoyed it before we had our partners, why would having a partner take the pleasure out of these activities for us?

    I love this post!

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  2. I think people often find pleasure in serving others. Not in a self-degrading way and because we are forced to or it’s expected, but as you said because they choose to do so. Part of showing love for others is doing things for them, and we often find satisfaction in doing things – even laundry and cooking and cleaning – for people we love.

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  3. LK

    I agree with Sarah. I like making dinner for my boyfriend and I’d much rather do the laundry. He’d shrink it! But he also has to clean up the kitchen when I’m done cooking and if we lived together he would have cleaning chores to do that many would say are typically female (Clean the bathroom, for instance). So I do not see doing these things as against feminism. Now if you felt forced to do them or degraded by them then yes I would say take another look at what you are doing.

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  4. I don’t have those issues. I usually remind my boyfriend that he is lucky that I do his laundry as well since it’s really not my biggest hobby 😉

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