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The 17th Carnival of Feminists - Making the personal political
June 24, 2006 1:08 PM   Subscribe

How do current feminists connect with the issues raised by the Second Wave? Feminist bloggers respond to Carol Hanisch, author of the 1970 essay The Personal Is Political [pdf]. In her new introduction, she writes, "But they belittled us no end for trying to bring our so-called 'personal problems' into the public arena... Our demands that men share the housework and childcare were likewise deemed a personal problem between a woman and her individual man. The opposition claimed if women would just 'stand up for themselves' and take more responsibility for their own lives, they wouldn't need to have an independent movement for women’s liberation." In response, the 17th Carnival of Feminists includes posts addressing how the internet can be a consciousness-raising medium, why we blame individual women for making "bad" decisions rather than blaming a system that forces them to choose, whether women should shut up and go with the flow as Democrats marginalize us in order to win elections, and what "the personal is political" might actually mean. (Many many many other great posts linked from Bitch|Lab on other feminist topics, too.)
posted by occhiblu (133 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Heh, this "debate about blowjobs" thing is intresting.

I know I know, I was as shocked as anyone else to find out that lesbians find fellatio and penises disgusting, and while some idiot who never got over am incident of abusive sex they experienced once and has decided that, due to the wonderful combination of being frightfully dull and being too shit scared to risk being hurt again, that all sex with guys is Teh Icky and anyone who has sex with guys is trying to cozy up to the patriarchy etc…etc…

Someone in there makes a good point that it's pretty hypocritical for homosexuals to deride particular heterosexual sex acts.
posted by delmoi at 1:46 PM on June 24, 2006


Hehe:

I am chastened. I’d forgotten that when it comes to sex, it is the duty of the radical feminist to shut the fuck up. Sex, which, along with religion, is the new religion, is sacrosanct territory. It is anti-feminist to point out the ideological problems with certain patriarchal sexbot traditions because so many women enjoy patriarchal sexbot traditions. It is, in fact, offensive to suggest that getting off has any untoward political ramifications at all.

And that's supposed to be sarcastic.
posted by delmoi at 1:48 PM on June 24, 2006


Cell phones are the opiate of the feminists
posted by Postroad at 1:55 PM on June 24, 2006


I found the first two blow job postings (the only ones I read) to be very sad as far as the comments went.
posted by Captaintripps at 2:19 PM on June 24, 2006


Post-coital tristesse, Captain?
posted by xod at 2:32 PM on June 24, 2006


Feminism and (deconstructing) Patriarchy are important to me and I do a lot of thinking and (self)examining. Here's a thread that some of my friends had openly discussing the issue. Here's one excerpt that I found valuable, as a male struggling with Patriarchy.

"MacKinnon observes that historically feminism sees two different routes to equality, the difference approach and the sameness approach. Just to summarize in case people are unfamiliar, as I understand it, the difference approach seeks to redefine feminity as equal to masculinity yet retain the characteristics with which women often identify. (i.e. the Pink Ranger saying she wants to show girls they can do anything that men can do, while wearing a size 6 pink glittery uniform, waving her Sceptre of Heart menacingly). The sameness approach seeks to reach equality by making women more like men (i.e. women in the workplace who bring skill sets traditionally held by men and are therefore in theory treated with equal respect).

These are both fatally flawed, and MacKinnon says as much. They are both strategies that reach towards an impossible end: equality between genders.

why? Here is why: men and women are part and parcel to each other. They are both sides of the same coin – a coin constructed to create a set of winners and a set of losers. Domination is the purpose.

If domination is the key definition of maleness, and women want to be like males, except in all other senses female, what is it they are trying to add to their sense of self? Internalized superiority.

If domination is the key definition of maleness, and women want to be the same as males, what is it they are trying to shift their sense of selves to include?
Internalized superiority.


Both the sameness and difference approach – and, indeed, feminism as a whole – do not truly challenge the structures of gender. They simply assert that women ought to be able to share in the domination. A heterosexual feminist society – one that maintains both genders but without hierarchy between them – is a society in which everyone is constantly trying to dominate everyone else. Males wouldn’t change their behavior simply because females decided they wanted to win, too, instead of just accepting male supremacy. If anything, it would simply escalate the gender wars. In fact, you can watch this happening to our society right now.

This is why maleness is no comfort to me. Even as a pro-feminist male, which I am, because although I don’t think feminism has found the answers yet, I think feminist theory and queer theory are moving towards those answers. (The problem is that most people who consider themselves feminist today will not like those answers one bit. No one wants to rebuild themselves from scratch.)"

posted by pelican at 2:38 PM on June 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


Q. How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A. THAT’S NOT FUNNY!!!
posted by Milliken at 2:54 PM on June 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


Pelican, that quoted material seems to be completely begging the question of whether "domination" is, in fact, the key definition of maleness. That's an insulting and patently untrue assertion, and anyone who believes that is unlikely to be someone I can have a meaningful dialogue with.
posted by Justinian at 3:07 PM on June 24, 2006


Pelican, your argument is fatally flawed. Why? Here is why: men and women are not both sides of a coin constructed to create a set of winners and a set of losers. Domination is not the purpose.

You know, this "just declare random stuff as fact" stuff is kinda fun
posted by Bugbread at 3:11 PM on June 24, 2006


Let's break out 'the male gaze' again. That 'objectifies and degrades women'. Etc etc.

Stop making 'being a woman' into a hobby or profession. Get on with your life.
posted by jouke at 3:21 PM on June 24, 2006







Hysterical b*tches.


posted by Extopalopaketle at 3:31 PM on June 24, 2006


Lives blown apart: Crimes against women in times of conflict

Combatants and their sympathizers in conflicts, such as those in Sierra Leone, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, and Rwanda, have raped women as a weapon of war with near complete impunity. Men in Pakistan, South Africa, Peru, Russia, and Uzbekistan beat women in the home at astounding rates, while these governments alternatively refuse to intervene to protect women and punish their batterers or do so haphazardly and in ways that make women feel culpable for the violence. As a direct result of inequalities found in their countries of origin, women from Ukraine, Moldova, Nigeria, the Dominican Republic, Burma, and Thailand are bought and sold, trafficked to work in forced prostitution, with insufficient government attention to protect their rights and punish the traffickers. In Guatemala, South Africa, and Mexico, women's ability to enter and remain in the work force is obstructed by private employers who use women's reproductive status to exclude them from work and by discriminatory employment laws or discriminatory enforcement of the law. In the U.S., students discriminate against and attack girls in school who are lesbian, bi-sexual, or transgendered, or do not conform to male standards of female behavior. Women in Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia face government-sponsored discrimination that renders them unequal before the law - including discriminatory family codes that take away women's legal authority and place it in the hands of male family members - and restricts women's participation in public life. Human Rights Watch
posted by xod at 3:48 PM on June 24, 2006


You know, this "just declare random stuff as fact" stuff is kinda fun

Dude, it's called theory. Seriously I find the entire 'gender theory' to be pretty much a collation of pleasant sounding metaphors made by people who don't understand that metaphors don't prove anything, they can only be used to explain concepts. Some people can think of gender like a coin, but that doesn't mean that gender has any other properties of a coin. For example, you can't melt gender down, or assay it's purity, or spend it in a store and get change back in lesser denominations.

And so on and so on. This whole field so social theory is nothing more then intellectual masturbation. Then people get into arguments about it. It's like two women getting into a fist-fight over a dispute about which vibrator is better. Not any less absurd then computer nerds getting into a flame war about whether Macs are better then PCs (They're not, by the way.)

Anyway, the antiblowjob girl is making the classic philosophers mistake. She doesn't like sucking dick, and even finds it gross, therefore, the only obvious conclusion is that no one else enjoys it, and anyone who claims to enjoy it is actually insane.

That's how I feel anyway, although it seems as though I may be being as irrational they are. Are my arguments legitimate, or am I the fratboy watching the vibrator brawl and laughing to a friend, "Heh, everyone knows girls don't really need vibrators, they can always find a man bang 'em."?
posted by delmoi at 3:50 PM on June 24, 2006


Combatants and their sympathizers in conflicts, such as those in Sierra Leone, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, and Rwanda, have raped women as a weapon of war with near complete impunity. Men in Pakistan, South Africa, Peru, Russia, and Uzbekistan beat women in the home at astounding rates...

Clearly this is the fault of 1st world women for sucking too much dick.
posted by delmoi at 3:52 PM on June 24, 2006


Your favorite philosophy sucks.
posted by frogan at 3:52 PM on June 24, 2006


As a companion piece to Women Are Really Neat People, which urges us not to judge individuals but the system as a whole, it might be interesting to read Linda Hirshman's Homeward Bound, which sparked a hell of a lot of controversy this winter. Instead of indicting the system, she suggests women work within it by adopting the model of the dominant class -- study lucrative subjects, get a high-paying well-respected job, and marry down to a partner who's committed to raising your children (advice that may sound familiar to many men). She also examines how "choice feminism" ignores the effect that women's choices have on the overall environment for women.

Judy Syfer's 1971 Why I Want a Wife touches on the advantages many men took (take?) for granted, while Hugo Schwyzer presents a more contemporary, male perspective on women's hidden work.
posted by occhiblu at 4:00 PM on June 24, 2006


And Captaintripps, yeah, I had to give up on most of the blow-job comment threads. They were amazingly depressing in just too many ways.
posted by occhiblu at 4:03 PM on June 24, 2006


Combatants ... have raped women as a weapon of war

As a weapon of war? Really?

M-16? Check!
Grenades? Check!
Tactical plans in which we specifically rape their women in order to gain a long-term strategic advantage in this conflict? Check!

This is why social movements most often fail, IMHO -- conflating issues so their completely unrecognizable. By framing rape as a "weapon of war," it conflates rape with military issues, instead of the lack of basic rules of law. "If only we could take the "rape bullets" out of their guns..."

So, instead of a movement in which nations truly engage on cultural issues (e.g. we're not going to trade with you, Country X -- talk to us when you're not a chaotic, crime-ridden shithole), we stand around and wring our hands and bemoan the inhumanity of it all.
posted by frogan at 4:08 PM on June 24, 2006


So you're some sort of history buff?
posted by xod at 4:10 PM on June 24, 2006


Rape has long been considered a strategy of war, especially during periods of ethnic cleansing.

For example, from Physicians for Human Rights

As an expression of ethnic group hatred, rape of "enemy" women can be explicitly ordered or tacitly condoned by military authorities. In the former Yugoslavia, refugees described how public raping of women by military forces was used systematically to force families to flee their villages, achieving the goal of "ethnic cleansing."(12) In Burma, it has been reported that entire village populations fled into Bangladesh after Rohingya women were raped by the Burmese military.(13) A randomly chosen sample of 20 Ethiopian refugees who had fled forced relocation and ethnic persecution in Ethiopia were interviewed in a refugee camp in Somalia in 1986; 17 knew someone in their village, and 13 knew someone in their family, who had been raped by the Ethiopian militia.(14)
posted by occhiblu at 4:12 PM on June 24, 2006


Seriously I find the entire 'gender theory' to be pretty much a collation of pleasant sounding metaphors made by people who don't understand that metaphors don't prove anything, they can only be used to explain concepts.

Delmoi, you're making the classic philosopher's mistake of assuming that since metaphors don't prove anything, they are empty of content. The reason these metaphors are explored -- at least when the exploration is being performed by a good theorist -- is because they grant a better understanding of our assumptions in a particular arena of thought. You did mention the facility of metaphor to explain concepts, but I don't think you give metaphors enough credit. They can profoundly influence our feelings about a certain topic, make us feel sympathy or even empathy where before there was none. In the case of gender, we are possessed of a vast ocean of unspoken assumptions; trying to elaborate or even see them is nigh impossible without the aid of metaphors that are more clear than our concept of gender.

In short, there are a lot of wankers out there, but the method itself is still vital.
posted by voltairemodern at 4:15 PM on June 24, 2006


Right, metaphors can change how we feel about something (I suppose) but they don't change the underlying nature of that thing. I would argue that feelings on a topic induced by metaphoric understanding are invalid feelings. If Jane does not like to see little bunnies blown up, for example, it doesn't hold that she should also not want to see a statue of a bunny blow up because the statue can be though of as a sort of bunny.
posted by delmoi at 4:26 PM on June 24, 2006


Two, but how did they get in there?
posted by wobh at 4:48 PM on June 24, 2006


occhiblu, first off, I'd like to say that people who believe in things scare me.

But secondly, going through those comments, I don't know if this hit you first, but the comments before sane, non-compartmentalized individuals kicked in were making me feel so guilty. Have I truly been that unthinkingly horrible? Etcetera, etcetera. Then, some commenters piped in with the basic premise of looking at people and relationships for what they are and this contrasted sharply, creating a more cogent foil for it.

I kept, however, coming back to just how hateful it all was. Not in the normal internet fashion of hateful. You could really read the depth of it. I feel empathy for that, but it seems so sad at its root. That instead of finding enjoyment in one's own choices and pleasure in whom one chooses to sleep with and what sex acts one enjoys, it's this overintellectualized and dark act of will, rebellion and at some level hate.

It's so right to think about what your relationships and sexual activities mean in a larger framework. But then they seemed to turn analysis on its ear, not accept that there are multiple frameworks, and cast everything other in a dark light. Well, that is rather human and they wouldn't be the first people to do it, or horrible people for doing so. It was entirely the fact that this then applies to everyone and everyone who was pro-blowjob in the thread acknowledged where this anti stance was coming from. But there was no reciprocation.

No, cocks are dirty, filthy and domineering. Men are gross.

It's not surprising, but it just seemed to catch me at that moment. Forget any equitability in the germiness of genitals or dominance. I just couldn't fully comprehend why a sex act and heterosexual sex in particular were so vilified. It's simplistic, but I've always thought that was at the root of hating homosexual men.

To be puerile, they put their ding dong in the pooper and that's different and gross!

Then I felt such a deep confusion of empathy and personal anathema at the women who described their experiences; how they felt about it. As I described above, I kept thinking about my relationships and examining them and if I'd ever behaved that way and if my girlfriends had felt that way. But, I've had very open and caring relationships. I think I'd get told if that was the case.

I just felt so bad for them, though. It just sounded like all the encouters they were given the chance to have were with mysoginist, selfish and abusive men; or they had never gotten over what is usually the piss-poor experience of teenage sexuality. There was no chance for them to have any enjoyment. I'm sure they would be angry and think I was patronizing and that I felt they just "needed to meet the right man." This isn't the case at all. I think I get how deep into their psychology this goes. It seems incredibly sad.

That's where I had the backlash, though, when they started in on people who didn't have the same experience; from women who absolutely loved it to women who were just pleasing their partners, but didn't find it particularly gratifying. No! A sex act you engage in is so degrading and bad, no matter how much pleasure it brings you psychologically, physically or relationally.

Unfortunately, that's just not the kind of conversation I can break into as a man unless I actually know someone. Putting a foot in there would so be firmly clamping the bear trap about my ankle. Hell, I'm just expressing my opinion here and, abnormally, I'm a bit apprehensive about it until I realize I'm not part of the problem.

So, those were my reactions, occhiblu. Do those match up with yours at all?

occhiblu: And Captaintripps, yeah, I had to give up on most of the blow-job comment threads. They were amazingly depressing in just too many ways.
posted by Captaintripps at 4:48 PM on June 24, 2006


What will happen to the feminists when there is no more patriarchy? Which is to say I have never encountered a good exit strategy for feminism. There is no room for people who don't practice patriarchy. I find it a much more useful theoretical tool to understand the desire to form hierarchies (based around what ever difference) as an inate trait inherent in woman as well as men (which doesn't make it right to create systems of dominance).
posted by BillJenkins at 4:52 PM on June 24, 2006


Captaintripps: Yup, that about sums it up. And I was coming at it as a woman; I can't imagine what a guy wading into that mess would've felt (though your post is rather evocative on that score).

At its core, what was interesting to me about that debate was what a few commenters mentioned: In the end, heterosexual feminists are in bed with "the enemy." I can't think of any other movement of which I'm a part in which I have to confront representatives of the "other" side every day, in my own home, on my private time, in my most intimate relationships -- and in which those interactions are at the center of the movement. (All these scare quotes because I don't think men are the enemy, or alien creatures, or really opposed to feminism; I do think that many of them, understandably don't think about these issues as much and can therefore seem unenlightened /ignorant/ hostile sometimes.)

I think the blowjob threads were expressing some degree of frustration with that, and some amount of disgust on the part of (some) gay women that straight women are somehow betraying the sisterhood by liking cock and everything that stands for -- willingly sharing a life with men, imperfect as they may be, and seeing that as a good thing, basically.

Don't get me wrong -- there was also a lot of straight-out guy-bashing, and that's what turned my stomach the most. (And I really *hope* the majority of those doing so were gay women, because I worry about the quality of their relationships otherwise.)
posted by occhiblu at 5:08 PM on June 24, 2006


More on women's hidden work, from Bitch Ph.d.'d My Radical Married Feminist Manifesto:

In fact, I believe that this [domestic labor] is the single most irretrievably gendered division-of-labor issue for couples who want to be, or think they are, equals: the person whose job it is to monitor that equality is the person who has the least power. And in most cases, that's the woman....

And on this matter of housework, the "domestic glass ceiling": the best marital advice I have to give is be willing to be a bitch about housework. And do it as early as possible. Is your man going to divorce you if you insist he does his fair share? Then find out quick, before you have kids and it just gets worse. But probably he won't divorce you for insisting he do housework. So, insist. Don't fuck around with "housework strikes"--it'll drive you crazy before it does him, probably, and you'll cave. Don't get stuck in arguments about "who cares more" or "who just happens to be tidier" or "I just don't notice the mess, honey" or "I'll do whatever you ask me to"--all of which are excuses that mean "I don't think it's my responsibility to do housework, so of course I care less/don't bother/don't notice/will "help" if you think for me and tell me what to do."

posted by occhiblu at 5:33 PM on June 24, 2006


As to the idea of an exit strategy for feminism:
i've been saying for a while that feminism cannot exist usefully any longer with the name "feminism." Women have demanded (with varying results) to have a wider set of lifestyles to choose from. They demand that all of these lifestyles must be considered valuable to society. They've had moderate success. Men have not gotten the same.

Justinian made a major point: masculine /= dominant. Nor does any gender necessarily mean dominant or submissive. What we need to work towards now is egalitarianism: making sure that anyone of any gender who wants to be dominant or submissive can do so and still be considered a valued member of society. We need to construct new narratives about coupling that offer a variety of relationships. "Homeward Bound" is good insofar as it provides one of these new narratives: dominant women, find yourself a nurturing man.

If such a thing as "feminism" still exists, it should exist as a front against women-specific problems, such as rape or the second class citizen status of many women in fundamentalist states. But in the west, old issues like gender role, birth control, or family structure should now be dealt with the overall ideal of egalitarianism.

/two cents
posted by es_de_bah at 5:36 PM on June 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


/um...rape isn't a women-specific problem. Tho some rape inherently targets women.
posted by es_de_bah at 5:46 PM on June 24, 2006


Tactical plans in which we specifically rape their women in order to gain a long-term strategic advantage in this conflict? Check!

It's not only a strategy, it's also a recognized act of genocide.
posted by cmonkey at 6:38 PM on June 24, 2006


Rape has long been considered a strategy of war, especially during periods of ethnic cleansing.

See, this is precisely conflating the issue...

Ethnic cleansing and genocide is not war. These are war crimes. More precisely, it's indicative of a total breakdown of the rule of law.

Calling it war somehow makes it more palatable, believe it or not.

Look at it with a different perspective -- hunger as a weapon of war. Hunger is not war. Hunger is groups of armed people controlling the access to food, thereby perpetrating a humanitarian crisis and, yes, genocide. I mean, there was always plenty of food in Ethiopia. It was controlled by the gangsters with guns.

By the same token, this is why our government tiptoes about Darfur. At the highest level, it's framed as a civil war between a sovereign nation and a resistance movement, instead of a bunch of fucking gangsters fighting over table scraps with innocents caught in between.

So, if you want to talk about women's rights, call a spade a spade. Which gets you more riled up?

This?
"Women ... from Thailand are bought and sold ... with insufficient government attention to protect their rights and punish the traffickers."

Or my version?
"The corrupt government of Thailand allows slavery to occur within its borders. The United States provides Thailand with economic, humanitarian and military assistance."

This?
"Government-sponsored discrimination (in Saudi Arabia) ... restricts women's participation in public life."

Or my version?
"The corrupt government of Saudi Arabia specifically allows men to murder their wives and daughters. The United States is this country's No. 1 oil customer."
posted by frogan at 6:49 PM on June 24, 2006


Heh, this "debate about blowjobs" thing is intresting.

It is also notable that it's the most popular outgoing link from the Bitch | Lab post. I guess with all of this heady talk of unrecognised housework, phallocracy, rape in war, sex slavery, glass ceilings, female infanticide, genital mutilation & so on, we still just want to be titillated first & foremost.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:06 PM on June 24, 2006


Argh. First it turns up on Salon, now here... this damn blowjob fracas is spreading all across the internet.

All right. I'm possibly going to get piled on here, but I should say, to start with, that I am in broad agreement with radical feminism. Or, in the context of this affair, the "anti-blowjob" contingent, though I think that's a gross oversimplification. I am well aware that I'm out of step with pretty much all of Metafilter, and the rest of the world for that matter, on this. I should also note that I'm a straight guy. I don't feel that well qualified to defend the radical feminist position in general, but I'll try. I'm not expecting to convert anyone, but I think there were a lot of misunderstandings in the course of this whole thing.

Captaintripps- I can tell the whole thing upset you, and I understand if you don't want to wade back into it, but if you're willing, could you maybe give some examples of the comments that made you feel that way? Because I clearly wasn't seeing the same thing as a lot of people. I saw basically only a couple people who I really thought could be viewed as condemning the entire act of blowjobs as being evil and gross and you're a bad person if you do that. A lot of people seemed to think the whole radical feminist side was saying that. From what I read, though, I would say the "anti-BJ" position was much more nuanced than it was given credit for in this whole disaster. (I wouldn't take the original post that started this off too seriously. I'll explain why in a different post, if that's what you were referring to. This one's already too long.)

For the most part, what I saw most people on the "anti-BJ" side saying was that that they didn't personally like the act(which is completely their right, and in fact by "sex-positive" standards, should be above criticism) and/or that there are a lot of problematic aspects to the way society views blowjobs(which I agree with, and which does not imply some sort of "if you do this, you're a bad person" mandate to any but the most hardcore).

What I really found depressing was the subsequent pile-on. I'm not going to say anyone had clean hands in this, but I found a much greater amount of nastiness aimed at radical feminists by the "sex-positive" ones than the other way around.

And on that note, when you say this:

I just felt so bad for them, though. It just sounded like all the encouters they were given the chance to have were with mysoginist, selfish and abusive men; or they had never gotten over what is usually the piss-poor experience of teenage sexuality. There was no chance for them to have any enjoyment. I'm sure they would be angry and think I was patronizing and that I felt they just "needed to meet the right man." This isn't the case at all. I think I get how deep into their psychology this goes. It seems incredibly sad.

I understand you don't mean it as "they just need a good man", and that you don't mean to be patronizing- but it implies that the only way anyone could believe what they do is because they had bad experiences with men, that it couldn't have been a position they came to from thought and observation, that it must be an entirely emotional, irrational thing. It's hard for me not to see that as condescending. And I don't think it's true. Past trauma motivates many a radical feminist, yes, but that's not universally so, and where it is the case, I don't think it discredits them in any sense. I don't think most people would dismiss a hate crime victim's activism against racism because they suffered a past trauma.
posted by a louis wain cat at 7:15 PM on June 24, 2006


we still just want to be titillated first & foremost.

UbuRoivas & a louis wain cat: Yeah, I specifically didn't link those articles on this post, and yet....
posted by occhiblu at 7:26 PM on June 24, 2006


a louis wain cat: Y'know, I went back and read over all of the threads again about a half hour ago. I don't really want to wade through them again to parse the comments, either. I did however get further differing viewpoints at several of the other sites. So at this point, I can agree that I may be reading them just plain wrong. Especially since I have no desire to read those again at present and therefore cannot support my comments about them.

Related to your concluding paragraph, I wasn't generating that that was the only way many of them could have come to their positions. That was something which was stated outright (talking about past trauma) or implied by a few of the posters (through their wording). Perhaps I wasn't making it clear that I was not making a sweeping statement about all of the posters. It was specifically those posts which I found depressing. Nor, as an observer, did I intend to discredit them or dismiss them.
posted by Captaintripps at 7:41 PM on June 24, 2006


If I understand it right, the point Hanisch (and these other bloggers are making): that women shouldn't be blamed for adopting "survival behaviours" in the face of repression, that the solutions for their problems are not to look for solutions in each case, but to look for a mass "political" solution. To change the system rather than the individual.

I can certainly agree with the no-blame part (and I'm not even sure why blame applies at all, to be honest), but I'm afraid I still don't agree with the idea that collective action is the only path. One of the great insights of ecological activism is "Think Global, Act Local". That's not just a political statement, it's a practical one. In my experience, that slogan is a great for actually getting things done, for putting programs in place that actually make a difference, for really convincing other people. An example is worth a thousand planning sessions. My experience with groups that plan larger action without the focus on smaller, local, individualized actions has been much less positive---they devolve into debating clubs.
posted by bonehead at 8:04 PM on June 24, 2006


Seond wave feminsim is just repackaed Marxism, which is why there's an a priori assumption that "it's all about domination." Sure, sometimes it's about power, but not nearly as often as Marxists want to think. Marx himself was a brilliant theorist, but a lousy social engineer. I understand why, from a historical standpoint, the seocnd wave feminists were attracted to Marxism, and why it was maybe even a little useful to their purpose, but on the whole I think the Marxist thing did feminism more harm than good.

Re: the personal being political: I've never seen someone change thier behavior because they were politicked at. That's not why people change.
So, as with the housework example above, the offered agent of change is to "bitch" which, yes, may get the job done -- a much-bitched-at husband might indeed do more housework than before or he might leave or become bitter, and if he does, that's a "victory" for feminism, because after all, the power struggle has been won. But since the disagreement is viewed solely in terms of a power struggle, it is assumed that the man is speaking in bad faith, and so power must be exercised to win and so, one becomes what one was trying to defeat.
But anyone with any imagination can see that a given man might not be speaking in bad faith -- if, for example, he was never truly socialized to give housework a priority, then the partners need to work together to come to an equity of labor that is satisfactory to both of them. If they cannot do this, and cannot trust each other to do this in good faith, then their marriage will likely not last long, feminism or no. That's not a political solution, and there's no formula that everyon can apply to ensure the same results. That why the personal is not political, and why the political isn't really political either.

This is a general problem in all strains of Marxism -- Marxism, put into practice, has no qualms about breaking a few eggs to make its omlette.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:17 PM on June 24, 2006


Oh my god. No, I musn't get involved. *bangs head against wall, repeatedly*
posted by jokeefe at 8:25 PM on June 24, 2006


occhiblu- yeah, maybe I shouldn't have gotten into the whole issue here at all. The blowjob argument just proved to be a big occasion for radical feminist bashing, from my standpoint, and if it was going to spread here as well, I wanted to offer the other side of it, at least. Still, I definitely don't want to help keep the whole thing going...

Captaintripps- I understand. I did read your post as being more broadly aimed than it seems you meant it, so thanks for clarifying.
posted by a louis wain cat at 8:30 PM on June 24, 2006


Argh. Okay. What this thread has demonstrated to me, first and foremost, is that there's a desperate necessity for a language in which we (let's say men and women, for simplicity's sake) can talk together about social power, relative power as affected by gender, women's right to pleasure, sexuality as a social phenomenon, and how all these inform our emotional and sexual selves as well as our private lives.

After reading the comments here, I was surprised to skim the comments in the related blogs-- I'm not sure I was reading the right ones, as I didn't stumble on anything as homophobic or hateful as I expected, given some of the reactions here on Mefi (though perhaps I missed something). What I did see was a lot of people shouting past each other and either wilfully misunderstanding or becoming so individually defensive that discussion was rendered impossible.

What to add? This is all a bit surreal, to me, who remembers clearly the mocking and hostile social discourse around what we would now consider the most obvious and basic social entitlements which women deserve, such as equal access to higher education (there used to be quotas on the number of female students admitted to Ivy League colleges; it took battles in court and legislation to begin the correction of openly discriminatory hiring practicies in academica, etc.), let alone other things we take for granted today, like being able to buy condoms at the grocery store, or get a prescription for the Pill if you were unmarried. [Digression] Not to mention that whole "vaginal orgasm" thing-- it took a number of years, during a time when the word "clitoris" was largely taboo, to move towards a social consensus that there was nothing wrong with women who could only orgasm through clitorial stimulation. Women were supposed to orgasm through penetration exclusively. Failure to do so was considered "infantile" and a symptom of psychological problems within such powerful insitutions as the entire field of psychiatry. Look it up. I remember the day that science determined that menstrual cramps might actually be genuinely painful-- before that, they were considered psychosomatic, or evidence of "denying one's feminity". Again, you can look it up. [/Digression]

At any rate. All of this fracas around blowjobs is interesting in that it's hit a nerve of sorts online and has caused a reaction which seems to me all out of proportion to the original posts (again, am I missing something?).

Blow jobs! Fun and funky! You may like giving them in and of themselves, you may like them because they give so much pleasure to your partner, even though they are work (ow! my neck!), but you know. My question would be: what the heck is this argument really about?
posted by jokeefe at 8:56 PM on June 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


Oh, and finally-- I dislike the term "sex-positive feminism", because feminism, in my experience was never "sex-negative", and I'm confused as to where this idea came from.
posted by jokeefe at 8:58 PM on June 24, 2006


Andrea Dworkin and Catherine McKinnon are used as the prototypical examples of anti-sex feminists, fairly or not.
posted by bonehead at 9:04 PM on June 24, 2006


It's sex-positive because there are a number of people who believe that . . .God this is difficult to explain. Fucking philosophy. Okay, Plato's cave? There are a number of radical feminists who believe that essentially they are the ones that know the truth -- and the truth is that even though sex-positive feminists believe and profess that they enjoy sex, they don't, but they can't know that they don't, because they are falsely conscious.

Which I think is a bunch of BS, but then, what do I know? I'm interpreting shadows on the wall, right?
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:36 PM on June 24, 2006


Feminism + Marxism = CUNNILINGUS_IN_NORTH_KOREA
(flash, audio, blinking text, pfpp, not safe for capitalist patriarchy)
posted by wobh at 10:44 PM on June 24, 2006


From what I understand of Catherine MacKinnon, who is credited with the idea that "all sex is rape," the anti-sex feminist stance came from the "free love 60s," when women's responsibility shifted, almost overnight, from preventing sex from happening ("good girls say no") to going with the flow and sleeping with everyone and anyone (otherwise she was "uptight"). MacKinnon's point was that, in such a society, women still really didn't have a choice about having sex -- men had so much power, and so much more freedom, that the idea of women having a choice about who to sleep with, or whether to have sex at all, was so constrained as to not really be a choice at all.

"Sex-positive feminism" is in opposition that idea.

For me, I'm not sure either of them has the whole truth. But MacKinnon's "anti-sex" point has, I think, more to it than most people currently give her credit for, and to some extent falls under what Hirshman's talking about.
posted by occhiblu at 12:02 AM on June 25, 2006


Re: the "the person who notices inequalities in housework is the oppressed party, and should bitch to the person who doesn't care about housework as much" thing: my wife vacuums the house every other day. She says she'd actually prefer to vacuum every day, but just doesn't have the time. She gets annoyed if I don't help with the vacuuming, and it drives me nuts.

My question is: if this vacuuming disparity is due to patriarchal inequality, then why does she have to fight the patriarchy by complaining, instead of fighting the patriarchy by vacuuming less?
posted by Bugbread at 12:25 AM on June 25, 2006


I've seen people decide to take that exact approach on some feminist blogs, bugbread.
posted by furiousthought at 1:07 AM on June 25, 2006


This may not actually be the case with you, bugbread, but it is probably true of most realtionships that have this problem: If your wife lived alone, she would vacuum the same amount as she does now. If you lived alone, you would probably vacuum more than you do now. I think that's sort of a practical demonstration of the question.
posted by taz at 1:13 AM on June 25, 2006


occhiblu: Yeah, I specifically didn't link those articles on this post, and yet....

Well, I saw a whole bunch of writing on the usual suspects of feminist theory, and yet this thread kept going on & on about blowjobs. It took a while to find the source, I tell you. Hence my comment.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:31 AM on June 25, 2006


furiousthought:

Yeah, sorry, I was a bit unclear. I didn't mean to imply that "my wife shouldn't vacuum less" was the position of all feminists. My beef was just with the person who made that argument, and not feminism as a whole.

taz:

Good point. You're right, in my case it doesn't quite apply (when I lived alone, I'd vacuum maybe once every week or two), but I wouldn't be surprised if I were the exception, and not the rule.
posted by Bugbread at 5:24 AM on June 25, 2006


re: blowjobs

They can be fun. They can be gross. Pick one, but remember that you can change your mind.

Housework:
I don't see many women demanding their right to mow the lawn, treethe hedges and lawn, paint the house or fix whatever breaks around the house, which are traditional male roles. They just want help with THEIR "work".

Most of them intellectual crap is settled by reasonable people agreeing to reasonable roles.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:34 AM on June 25, 2006


I think one of the problems facing most social theories (not just feminism) is a tendency to declare as universal things which are generally but not always true. I see this in the arguments that, because generally housework is foisted on women by men, due to power imbalances, that therefore all housework that is distributed unequally is therefore an example of patriarchal power imbalance. It reminds me of a story my coworker told me about his parents coming to visit him in Japan. His wife doesn't work (in the sense of "go to company, get money"), and he does. One day, when his parents were visiting, he came home from work, and his wife got him a beer. His parents saw this as absolutely deplorable, a clear example of patriarchal misogynist whathaveyou. From later discussion with his mom, it appeared that, in her mind, a fair relationship between them would be for him to do all of the job work, and half of the housework. Anything other than that would be sexist.

I'm not implying that this is always the case. In my own family, both of my parents work, and yet my mom does more than half of the housework. That, in my opinion, is not a good thing (and I remember lecturing my parents about it when I was in high school). But when social theorists use examples of high frequency ("men and women often have imbalances in work, and this is especially the case when both work outside the home but the women are expected to do the brunt of housework as well") and rephrase them as absolutes ("all men and women must divide housework exactly evenly, and any time a woman does more housework than her husband, it is an example of patriarchal etc."), they just weaken their case and give people a reason to roll their eyes.
posted by Bugbread at 6:51 AM on June 25, 2006


I see this in the arguments that, because generally housework is foisted on women by men, due to power imbalances, that therefore all housework that is distributed unequally is therefore an example of patriarchal power imbalance.

I can honestly say that I've never foisted housework on a woman in my life.

However, the volume of housework that women have sought to foist onto me to gratify their housepride fetish has been immense.

Fuck the matriarchy!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:54 AM on June 25, 2006


Look, my wife wants to clean the house every damn day, at least an hour or so.

I'd prefer to do 20 minutes or so, every other day.

Just because she wants to and enjoys cleaning, doesn't mean that I have to to exactly as she does. This works quite well for my marriage, others may vary of course.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 AM on June 25, 2006


Brandon Blatcher : "Just because she wants to and enjoys cleaning, doesn't mean that I have to to exactly as she does."

Actually, according to Bitch Ph.d, you may be in luck:

"In fact, I believe that this [domestic labor] is the single most irretrievably gendered division-of-labor issue for couples who want to be, or think they are, equals: the person whose job it is to monitor that equality is the person who has the least power."

Since you seem accutely aware of the imbalance here, you might qualify as the person "whose job it is to monitor that equality", and therefore the person with the least power, which usually translates to be the person with the best moral position. You may be able to claim sexism against your wife.
posted by Bugbread at 7:45 AM on June 25, 2006


You may be able to claim sexism against your wife.

she can make it up with blow jobs.


Being aware of an inbalance doesn't mean it's being monitored.

saddan has less power than me at the moment, but i'm probably in a better moral pposition. Probably.

Of course, if one continues to loot at blue painting through red glasses, then they'll probably miss what's in front of them AND BE TOTALLY UNAWARE THAT THEY ARE.

This is interesting in the sense that it's interesting to see how other people think, but it doesn't seem very relevant, you know? that stuff constantly comes off as as "too much thought, very little action."

or inbreeding.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:21 AM on June 25, 2006


IMHO the ideal situation would be that the person who doesn't place as much importance on vacuuming understands that the other person does place importance on it, and the two people establish a compromise.

As far as the "housepride fetish," I think you're being slightly obtuse. I didn't think there was anything to it, either, until I was in the position myself, but as a woman, I do feel a lot of anxiety when my house is not clean. I feel a lot of anxiety when, for example, my parents or my inlaws are here and the house is dirty. It fucking bothers me, and previously in my life I was most certainly a "clean enough" type person. I've realized that I learned -- from my mother, indirectly -- that there is a value and a character judgement placed upon women by (some) people and (some) segments of society, and I've internalized that to that point that now that we own our own place, I feel as if it's a very poor reflection on myself if the house is dirty. I can't be the only person who feels this way, because fucking commercials for cleaning products play on this shit all the time. YOU may have never asked a woman to do housework in your life, but you need to think about why your refusal to do it, or your blindness to the need for it, IS foisting it off on the women in your life. Or the man. Or just the person who is left to do it when you don't or won't. Not to mention how that makes the other person feel -- abandoned, ignored, undervalued. Pissed off? Resentful? Oh yeah, that's fun.

Do some women just want bigger, "better," more expensive? Keeping up with the bottled blonde bitches down the street? Yeah. But some (a lot?) of us have also been trained to have this sort of reaction. It's valid. It's not just bitching. Maybe I'm misreading things here, or maybe you guys are being a lot more flippant than is immediately apparent, but for crissakes, it wouldn't kill you to take these issues seriously when women bring them up. Out in the world is out in the world. There may be anti-woman elements at work or at the mall or on television or whatever, but we all have control over our home environments. We choose to have a more or less equal homelife based on our own needs and preferences.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:47 AM on June 25, 2006


Men's diesires flor blowjobs have been ingrained in much the same way as womens' desires for a clean house.

I think I've found a compromise.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:51 AM on June 25, 2006


Maybe I'm misreading things here, or maybe you guys are being a lot more flippant than is immediately apparent, but for crissakes, it wouldn't kill you to take these issues seriously when women bring them up.

Yes, it would. It's called death by listenint to every bat shit crazy idea your spouse has. Note that I said spouse, 'cause men can do that crap to.

Look, if a woman wants to clean her house 5 times a day, feel free. *I'm* not doing it, period. I'll cheerfully clean the house (and do), but just because it's not getting done as often or the way the women wants DOESN'T MEAN IT'S WRONG. It just means the guy views things differently. The best solution is some type of comprise, of course, which each couple can work on its own.

But i'm an adult now and i could give two figs about what my parents think of my "room" and more importantly I don't have to live up to their standards.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:03 AM on June 25, 2006


I think that a lot of the epithets between the whole "anti-sex" and "sex-positive" groups are overblown talking past each other. But still...

On the one side, the radical feminists argue that all forms of human interaction are influenced by political power stuggles, and that sexuality is one type of interaction that should be unpacked and investigated. Along with this is the possibility that some forms of sexaual interaction can't be reclaimed or made equal in our current political environment.

On the other side, sex-positive feminists argue that sex is political, and that the way to empowerment is reclaiming sexual acts where patriarchy is ambivalent or hostile.

I think the flaw on both sides is that these positions have become a point of dogma. Some radical feminists reject the notion that some sexual acts can be reclaimed. Some sex-positive feminists reject any possibility that we should talk about the politics of sexual acts.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:10 AM on June 25, 2006


Medieval Man:

But if you follow that argument, that the desire for housecleaning comes from a patriarchal value set ingrained in women that their role is to keep the house clean, then isn't going along with increased cleaning just supporting this patriarchal value system? Wouldn't the best thing be, as Bitch Ph.d. put it, "to be willing to bitch about housework"?

Yes, I'm being a bit flippant, but if the idea that "if you're unwilling to do what your partner wants, you're being sexist" is true, couldn't the same thing be applied to, for example, blowjobs? It just seems to be an argument based on the initial assumption that, since women are devalued in society, that their desires are automatically correct, and that in any disagreement, the person disagreeing with the female is therefore automatically incorrect. If men generally preferred that more housework be done, and women that less housework be done, I have very little doubt that the argument would be "if your husband is demanding that you do housework that you think is unnecessary just because he wants it to be done, then you've been disempowered".

I just prefer to look at it from a functional standpoint. Person A thinks some action should be done quite frequently, and that Person B should do it half the time. Person B disagrees. If person A gives in totally to person B, person B will be happy and person A will be unhappy. Vice versa if person B gives in totally to person A. If person A does a little less than they think is necessary, and person B does a little more than they think is necessary, neither will be ecstatic, but neither will be angry, and so peace will reign in the land. It isn't about what is "right" or "wrong", who is "oppressed" or "oppressor", or any of that other bullshit, it's about what response gives the best results.
posted by Bugbread at 9:12 AM on June 25, 2006


I'm not saying so much "if you're unwilling to do what your partner wants, you're being sexist," as that if we do not address our partners' wants and needs in an equitable manner, then that's sexist. I think generally you and I agree -- I mean, for example, and this is just out of my life, so for what it's worth -- dirty floors make me crazy. It's the one thing I can't shake. So I clean the floor a lot, and I know that it's my thing, and I don't expect my husband to clean them as much as I do -- but I really appreciate it when he doesn't make the floors worse by tracking crap through the house (making work for me) or when the vacuums up the "cat tumbleweeds" that come from having two cats (taking care of something that makes me nuts). It's a good compromise. It's also a good compromise when say, for example, the wife has a godawful week at work and is too exhausted to really do what she would like around the house, and, regardless of your opinion of how much it needs to be done, the husband does it because it will take some stress out of her life. And vice versa. I'm all about equality here.

However, saying "I'm not fucking cleaning because I dont care what your or my mom thinks, " is puerile. Taking your spouse seriously does not mean you and she both clean the house for five hours a week -- but it does involve listening and being reasonable and responsive.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:30 AM on June 25, 2006


bugbread: It just seems to be an argument based on the initial assumption that, since women are devalued in society, that their desires are automatically correct, and that in any disagreement, the person disagreeing with the female is therefore automatically incorrect.

I don't see that as the case at all. The argument is not that women are automatically correct because they are devalued in society. The argument is that it's foolish to pretend that couples make decisions about divisions of labor in an isolation chamber separated from other social factors.

I just prefer to look at it from a functional standpoint. Person A thinks some action should be done quite frequently, and that Person B should do it half the time. Person B disagrees. If person A gives in totally to person B, person B will be happy and person A will be unhappy. Vice versa if person B gives in totally to person A. If person A does a little less than they think is necessary, and person B does a little more than they think is necessary, neither will be ecstatic, but neither will be angry, and so peace will reign in the land. It isn't about what is "right" or "wrong", who is "oppressed" or "oppressor", or any of that other bullshit, it's about what response gives the best results.

I think the catch is that person A and person B are not two people sitting in isolation on a deserted island, but participants in larger social systems. If you want to talk about a functional perspective, you have to be willing to consider all of the relevant inputs and ouputs for that function.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:35 AM on June 25, 2006


KirkJobSluder : "If you want to talk about a functional perspective, you have to be willing to consider all of the relevant inputs and ouputs for that function."

Understood, and I don't mean that that isn't factored in, I was just giving a very simple version of the functional approach. To make a more realistic example, one can add the factor that "since women are generally treated by society as 'cleaners', my refusal to clean would be seen as sexist by my wife, and would therefore annoy her more than something gender neutral, like 'should I put the remote on the left side or the right side of the couch?'". So that moves the line slightly more to the "I should clean more" side.

However, none of that is based or dependent on determining whether my wife being more cleanly than me is or isn't an actual example of patriarchy. If anything, it's based on something which is both my wife and I can observe and agree on: If I keep to my old cleaning habits exclusively, my wife will be annoyed and consider it sexist. From a functional standpoint, that's what matters, not whether it really is sexist or really is not sexist.
posted by Bugbread at 9:46 AM on June 25, 2006


Medieval Maven : "I'm not saying so much 'if you're unwilling to do what your partner wants, you're being sexist,' as that if we do not address our partners" wants and needs in an equitable manner, then that's sexist."

Right, and there we totally agree. I think the friction here is that some people (not necessarily you) equivocate about what "equitable" means, and consider "You do half the housework, and I'll do half the housework" as equitable, when in fact it is eliding the initial condition "I alone will decide how much housework needs to be done". The ideal, equitable solution would be for both people to compromise on how much housework needs to be done in the first place, and then share that housework.

And, of course, there are lots of other factors. If the husband or wife isn't working, then it should be fair to expect that person to do more of the housework in order that the total workload between the two is more even.
posted by Bugbread at 9:50 AM on June 25, 2006


Many people in the world have not yet figured out that everyone is equal. It seems to be human nature to want to belong to some group that has certain rules for behavior. These rules simplify people's lives, so they don't have to think very hard and use their own judgement. It is comforting and easy. People love that. That is the root of the problem. Perhaps one day we will evolve past the compulsion to categorize everyone, and develop the capacity to truly see each other as individuals. Until then there will be lots of arguing and fighting over petty differences.
posted by meringue at 10:31 AM on June 25, 2006


If the husband or wife isn't working, then it should be fair to expect that person to do more of the housework in order that the total workload between the two is more even.

which does not, I would argue, translate into a license for the working spouse to habitually leave a trail (muddy footprints, dirty dishes with three-day-old-food in them, dirty clothes slung over furniture in common areas) wherever s/he goes, like a toddler, or an adult too ill to be able to physically clean up after her/himself.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:41 AM on June 25, 2006


cybercoitus interruptus: Of course not.
posted by Bugbread at 10:52 AM on June 25, 2006


1300 women in the U.S. will be assaulted today. 350 women will be raped. 4 women in the U.S. will be murdered by their boyfriend or husband today.
posted by xod at 11:07 AM on June 25, 2006


Feminist chicks dig me.
posted by jonmc at 11:09 AM on June 25, 2006


Because of your oral-housework abilities no doubt.
posted by xod at 11:21 AM on June 25, 2006


No, mainly because I'm a sexy motherfucker.
posted by jonmc at 11:25 AM on June 25, 2006


So they're "sex-positive-feminists." That doesn't really count.
posted by xod at 11:43 AM on June 25, 2006


Even the sex-negative ones dig me. My mojo is that strong.
posted by jonmc at 11:45 AM on June 25, 2006


But you still haven't told us your theory of housework.
posted by xod at 11:49 AM on June 25, 2006


Well, this turned out well. Sheesh.

I guess there's no discussion that can't be disabled by mockery. Especially ones about such "trivial" stuff as division of labour based on social expectations.

Also, is it so impossible to have a discussion about such things without men getting so personally defensive? I mean, I believe you: that you vacuum the house, that you defer to your wife, that you're a nice guy, that you've never raped anyone: I know. Can we get past that and talk about the ideas in question here, without it being percieved as a personal attack? I mean, generally we can edge past "I'm not a racist!" when we talk about race, can't we?
posted by jokeefe at 11:51 AM on June 25, 2006


I mean, generally we can edge past "I'm not a racist!" when we talk about race, can't we?

Not in my experience, no, but hope springs eternal.

Well, this turned out well. Sheesh.

I was just kidding around, jokeefe.
posted by jonmc at 11:52 AM on June 25, 2006


Sorry. I haven't helped.

I'm sure the statistical posts come across as sanctimonious but when the-personal-is-political is limited to housework and oral sex ...
posted by xod at 12:23 PM on June 25, 2006


jokeefe : "Also, is it so impossible to have a discussion about such things without men getting so personally defensive?...Can we get past that and talk about the ideas in question here, without it being percieved as a personal attack?"

It's tough. The more radical positions and statements basically are the equivalent of personal attacks...or rather, impersonal attacks (not "You, bugbread, are sexist", but "Blowjobs are sexist. People who get blowjobs are perpetuating sexism. If you get, or got and enjoyed, blowjobs, you are perpetuating sexism."), so it's not surprising that people perceive them as attacks. And since attacks stick out much more than non-attacks, if you have 1 attacking statement and 20 non-attacking statements, people are going to discuss the attack more than the non-attack.

To show you what it feels like from this end:

"Is it so impossible to have a discussion about such things without women getting so shrill?"
posted by Bugbread at 12:33 PM on June 25, 2006


I'd be interested to see how the housework debate here might change if you start involving kids in the household. There seems to be an idea here that many women, for whatever natural or socialized reason, clean more; if they feel oppressed by that, they should just stop. I don't really buy that argument, mostly for the reasons that Medieval Maven outlined, and the responses here seem to be implying that men are allowed to dictate what counts as "important," and that housework (most often the realm of women) doesn't rate.

But what happens when we substitute "childcare" for "housework." Interestingly, the gender divide is still pretty strong -- women, for whatever natural or socialized reason, do more primary caregiving for their kids; if they feel oppressed by that, should they just stop?

It's pretty easy to say, "Who cares if the floor's vaccumed!?! It's not my fault you care about such trivial matters!" It's probably less easy to say, "Who cares if the kids get fed!?!"
posted by occhiblu at 12:44 PM on June 25, 2006


occhiblu : "the responses here seem to be implying that men are allowed to dictate what counts as 'important,' and that housework (most often the realm of women) doesn't rate."

I get a totally different impression. The implication I am reading is that women are not allowed to unilaterally dictate what counts as important, but that both parties should compromise.

occhiblu : "Interestingly, the gender divide is still pretty strong -- women, for whatever natural or socialized reason, do more primary caregiving for their kids; if they feel oppressed by that, should they just stop?"

I think the big problem you will have with this is that comparing the development of a child to the cleanliness of a floor is that you're comparing things which are almost incomparable in scale. It's like comparing the importance of closing the bathroom door when you're done using it to the importance of closing the bank doors at the end of the day. They're both important, and they both involve closing doors, but it's pretty easy to say "Who cares if I close the bathroom door!?! It's not my fault you care about such trivial matters!". It's probably less easy to say "Who cares if the bank gets robbed!?!" That doesn't indicate some sort of inconsistency or hypocrisy regarding doors, but shows precisely that one is massively more important than the other.
posted by Bugbread at 1:01 PM on June 25, 2006


Sorry, this may be belabouring the point, but:

occhiblu : "I'd be interested to see how the housework debate here might change if you start involving kids in the household."

I can kinda guess how the debate might change.

With cleaning, we have a situation where party A and party B probably have strongly differing opinions regarding the importance of cleaning. As such, there is debate about how important cleaning is.
With childraising, we have a situation where party A and party B probably have pretty similar opinions regarding the importance of childraising. As such, there will not be much debate about how important childraising is.

Now, what there will be tons of, of course, is debate about "how", "who", "when", etc. (That is, pretty much anything outside of "how important is it")
posted by Bugbread at 1:10 PM on June 25, 2006


Clearly childcare/rearing is more important than mopping or whatever. However, what about the husband who thinks that his stay-at-home-wife "doesn't work" because she's at home all day and he's out lawyering or whathaveyou? Clearly this creates a division of labor issue -- the male in this case doesn't consider the work his wife is doing to be valuable work -- but if he were at home all day with the baby, he would view it differently.

The perception that childcare and housework are not actually work is pretty pervasive, and if I'm not mistaken, this may be more what occhiblu is getting at. And in some ways, "You're crazy to want to vacuum the floors every other day," is on the same level as, "You're crazy to think that what you do at home every day is as important/hard/tiring/whatever as what I do everyday."
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:46 PM on June 25, 2006


If the perception of housework as nonwork is what occhiblu is discussing, then occhiblu and I are probably in total agreement. Housework is work, no disagreement there. But in what ways is "you're crazy to want to vacuum the floors every other day" similar to "you're crazy to think what you do is as important/tiring/hard/whatever as what I do everyday"?

Also, I don't really get the quote regarding the lawyer on the page you linked: "So, my challenge is how to respond to him when he says to me, "the Baby--that's your job" or "you don't work.” He is customarily very helpful but like once a month something will set him off and the tirade is always the same, "You don't work, you use a babysitter too much, etc." He says "the baby is your job" and then says "you don't work", which doesn't make sense to me. And, at the end, with the babysitter comment, he seems to be implying that he does consider the baby to be work, and therefore that using a babysitter all the time is shirking work. Still, either way, the guy is obviously nuts and has no idea how hard taking care of a baby is. My kid is 3 months old, and I guaran-fucking-tee you my wife does more work taking care of the baby than I do paying the bills.
posted by Bugbread at 1:59 PM on June 25, 2006


I was just kidding around, jokeefe.

Oh jon, I know, ya goof. Thanks for giving me the only laugh in this thread.
posted by jokeefe at 2:08 PM on June 25, 2006


But what happens when we substitute ""childcare"" for "housework."

Dorothy Dinnerstein's thesis in The Mermaid and the Minotaur: Sexual Arrangements and Human Malaise is that various forms of sexism and other fundamental neuroses are structurally supported by women being the primary or sole parent responsible for raising children. This arrangement is a prerequisite for patriarchy and a precisely defined sphere of female authority. Subsequently, the values and bonds of flesh and love are relegated to the private sphere of the home and are exiled from the "real," public world of policy and society construction.

The child must ultimately reject the maternal realm (or be infantilized by it) in order to mature and enter the world of the father. The female-raised adult is then free to fixate on power and annihilation knowing that the values of life-giving are held by the woman and, at any rate and more importantly, are postponed to the transcendental sphere of religious afterlife.
posted by xod at 3:24 PM on June 25, 2006


Also, is it so impossible to have a discussion about such things without men getting so personally defensive? I mean, I believe you: that you vacuum the house, that you defer to your wife, that you're a nice guy, that you've never raped anyone: I know.

It really is impossible. If we criticise you, we're misogynists and therefore fair game for some rotten abuse. Feminism (in my 5 years of online forums) cannot survive an honest, open debate. Impossible. It always degenerates into name-calling etc. That's why there's so few feminist messageboards on the net (mainly just bloggers who obsessively monitor who can post what).
posted by FieldingGoodney at 4:01 PM on June 25, 2006


It really is impossible. If we criticise you, we're misogynists and therefore fair game for some rotten abuse. Feminism (in my 5 years of online forums) cannot survive an honest, open debate.

I'd say you're going too far, FieldingGoodney. There are shrill, obnoxious, and sanctimonious feminists to be sure, but you could say that about adherents to any philosophy. And intelligent reasonable feminists find them as annoying as you do, because they're, well, annoying. All most feminists want is some respect and understanding. There was an old John Callahan cartoon showing a female bookstore clerk berating a customer, yelling "This is a feminist bookstore! There is no humor section!" Several feminist bookstores have that hanging on the wall, which should tell you something about humor and reasonablity.

I'm as cynical as can be about people who constantly holler 'racism! homophobia! misogyny!' But make no mistake, these things all exist and have bad effects on both the givers and the recievers. You probably have female relatives and friends, ask them calmly and openly about their experiences with these things and give them the benefit of the doubt. I bet you'll learn something.
posted by jonmc at 4:18 PM on June 25, 2006


(also remember, this is not sensitive new-age boy telling you this. I call women broads and chicks, I go to the strip clubs and watch the porn and listen to the cock-rock and check out the boobies on the train. I'm a card carrying piggish neanderthal in many ways, and I'm giving you the staright poop: misogyny exists.
posted by jonmc at 4:22 PM on June 25, 2006


jonmc: There are shrill, obnoxious, and sanctimonious feminists to be sure, but you could say that about adherents to any philosophy. And intelligent reasonable feminists find them as annoying as you do, because they're, well, annoying.

Not from what I've seen. From what I've seen, feminism as a movement is very inclusive; they are unwilling to expell or marginalize members with very unreasonable views. A substantial proportion of the activists in the field are the sort of amazons who view men as only being useful in one regrettably necessary reproductive capacity, which hopefully science can do away with in the future. They are not marginalized, they are idolized.

This is unfortunate, because equal rights for women is a valid and worthy cause, and they tend to mobilize men against the movement. I can't blame men for turning against this sort of thing, because the objective of these particular feminists is not equality for women, it's superiority. This is something that tends to happen to all equal rights movements; witness the racial equality movements, which went right past anti-racism laws into affirmative action and now argue for reparations. At some point, their ideal of equality gets corrupted into simple advancement, which alienates their allies and tends to halt the movement.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:41 PM on June 25, 2006


at the end, with the babysitter comment, he seems to be implying that he does consider the baby to be work, and therefore that using a babysitter all the time is shirking work

I read his comments as "Why are we paying a babysitter to do what you really should be doing (by social custom, and maybe perceived biological or maternal imperative) for free?" He uses the word "work" but that doesn't mean that in his mind, unpaid baby-care is as worthy of respect (much less renumeration) as paid labour, especially high-status, creative intellectual white-collar work.

in what ways is "you're crazy to want to vacuum the floors every other day" similar to "you're crazy to think what you do is as important/tiring/hard/whatever as what I do everyday"?

Vacuuming's perhaps not the best example, since how often vacuuming needs doing is up for debate. What about "You're crazy to expect me to (cook dinner)(put my own dishes in the dishwasher) (move my used dishes from the table) (scrape out my own dishes), after I've been at work all day, and all you've been doing all day is staying at home"? (Not to mention when both work, but one spouse - in my circle, of the heteros, it's mostly the guys, but there's one woman too - still doesn't get around to doing any of the above 80% of the time, despite knowing that her/his spouse puts in a full day's paid labour. Neglecting to pitch in regularly, or at least clean up one's own messes regularly, looks a lot like "You're crazy to think what you do is as important/tiring/hard/whatever as what I do every day. That's why I don't even notice that you clean up after me."

FieldingGoodney: Feminism (in my 5 years of online forums) cannot survive an honest, open debate. Impossible. It always degenerates into name-calling etc.

Impossible? The "feminism" threads I've seen on Metafilter may not have produced solutions, but many people who disagreed managed to communicate their reasons without degenerating into wholesale namecalling.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:31 PM on June 25, 2006


Well, this thread has gone about how I expected it would.

FieldingGoodney: Feminism (in my 5 years of online forums) cannot survive an honest, open debate. Impossible. It always degenerates into name-calling etc. That's why there's so few feminist messageboards on the net (mainly just bloggers who obsessively monitor who can post what).

Someone who has already decided that it's impossible for "feminism"(whatever he means by that) to survive an open, honest debate is probably not going to be swayed by any argument anyone could make. I'll just point out that I've come across plenty of feminist message boards of all sorts, in my years online. They do tend to be heavily moderated, like all boards devoted to a controversial political topic that don't want to be taken over by trolls from the opposing side. That is much less because of people who want open, honest debate, and much more because of people like Extopalopaketle up there. There aren't as many nowadays, but I think that's just because political web sites in general these days mostly favor the blog format.

Mitrovarr: A substantial proportion of the activists in the field are the sort of amazons who view men as only being useful in one regrettably necessary reproductive capacity, which hopefully science can do away with in the future. They are not marginalized, they are idolized.

And another strawman, or maybe it should be strawwoman, bites the dust. I've seen maybe two or three people like that. It sure as hell isn't anything like a "substantial proportion."
posted by a louis wain cat at 6:42 PM on June 25, 2006


Also, is it so impossible to have a discussion about such things without men getting so personally defensive?

No, since much of the discussion seems to be about how terrible men are, in one form or another. One of the saddest facts of women's rights is that many of the important points about inequality have been lost due to more radical elements.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:47 PM on June 25, 2006


A substantial proportion of the activists in the field are the sort of amazons who view men as only being useful in one regrettably necessary reproductive capacity, which hopefully science can do away with in the future. They are not marginalized, they are idolized.

Not by anybody I've met, and I've met some pretty odd folk in my day.
posted by jonmc at 6:51 PM on June 25, 2006


Hold on there. Did someone actually make the completely batshit insane suggestion that "housework" in the context of no children is anywhere near as demanding as a full time job? Look, raising kids, or even one kid, is a huge amount of work. But unless you are doing major improvements / remodeling keeping a reaonably sized home clean (when there are no kids actively tearing it apart) and maybe doing some shopping is a couple hours a day of labor max. Nowhere near as lenghty or difficult as a full time job. People who clean houses for a living do several every day.

In a situation where one person in a relationship works full time and the other is a homemaker and there are no kids there is certainly a massive disparity in contributive labor. If both parties are fine with that then great, but they shouldnt pretend otherwise.
posted by Riemann at 7:11 PM on June 25, 2006


a louis wain cat: And another strawman, or maybe it should be strawwoman, bites the dust. I've seen maybe two or three people like that. It sure as hell isn't anything like a "substantial proportion."

I'm not just talking about the people who actually go out and say that stuff, but also the ones who just plain loathe men and consider them to be almost a lower life form. Instead of being drummed out of feminist organizations, they end up drifting upwards in them, and tend to be the most vocal members. This causes many men to be polarized against feminism and damages the movement, by chasing away allies who would probably agree with most of the goals held by the more moderate members.

Basically, they spoil the actions of the saner members and discredit the whole movement. It's kind of the same thing PETA and the ALF do to animal rights. Instead of the average person hearing from reasonable animal rights people and saying 'perhaps something has to be done about factory farming', they end up wearing 'People Eating Tasty Animals' hats. With the feminists, people end up hearing stuff like 'all sex is rape' and end up rolling their eyes at the movement, instead of addressing any worthwhile issues they may try to bring up.

I mean, hell, look at me. I am absolutely 100% for total equality between the genders. But I won't support feminist organizations, because they've been hijacked by extremists who want to give women special advantages over men.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:18 PM on June 25, 2006


Did someone actually make the completely batshit insane suggestion that "housework" in the context of no children is anywhere near as demanding as a full time job?

Impossible to say unless you quote the sentence that gave you that impression.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:45 PM on June 25, 2006


Mitrovarr: I hear you, but you have to remember that outrageous extremists get more ink because, well, they're outrageous. But if you talk to the rank and fil, for lack of a better term of most movements, you'll find that most of them are quite reasonable and less full of shit. Nobody's motives are 100% pure and we're all subject to our various neuroses when it comes to politics, but that's ultimately all part of being human, right?
posted by jonmc at 8:00 PM on June 25, 2006


I dunno, I've seen some real undemanding full-time jobs, and some real vigorous housecleaners.
posted by furiousthought at 8:14 PM on June 25, 2006


Mitrovarr: I'm not just talking about the people who actually go out and say that stuff, but also the ones who just plain loathe men and consider them to be almost a lower life form. Instead of being drummed out of feminist organizations, they end up drifting upwards in them, and tend to be the most vocal members. This causes many men to be polarized against feminism and damages the movement, by chasing away allies who would probably agree with most of the goals held by the more moderate members.

Basically, they spoil the actions of the saner members and discredit the whole movement. It's kind of the same thing PETA and the ALF do to animal rights. Instead of the average person hearing from reasonable animal rights people and saying 'perhaps something has to be done about factory farming', they end up wearing 'People Eating Tasty Animals' hats. With the feminists, people end up hearing stuff like 'all sex is rape' and end up rolling their eyes at the movement, instead of addressing any worthwhile issues they may try to bring up.


Okay, no one, or at least no one anyone's ever heard of, said "all sex is rape." It always gets attributed to Catharine Mackinnon or Andrea Dworkin, and neither one of them actually said it. Even Snopes has a page debunking that claim.

The other thing is, you talk about these people being in charge of feminist organizations in general. Which ones? Who are they? NOW? The Feminist Majority Foundation? Those are the largest feminist organizations in the United States, and I can't say that I'm seeing a lot of man-hating on the sites of either. Both are very much in the liberal feminist camp, and believe in dialogue, working within the system, etc. As for radical feminism, yeah, they hate patriarchy and misogyny(as do I), but I've seen a whole lot less actual man-hating from them than people claim. And there aren't very many radical feminist organizations to begin with, and they're all tiny.

I mean, with the animal rights thing, you named PETA, for example, and I actually agree with you on that one. There's no shortage of examples of counterproductive behavior from them. But no such specific names or examples for feminism. I hear this "crazy extremists have taken over feminism" thing a lot, and it's always incredibly vague. What I would say, as a supporter of feminism, is that anti-feminists have thrown a bunch of smears around with little regard for the truth, and that a lot of them have basically achieved urban legend status, but of course I'm biased. If you can give some more specific examples of what you mean, I'd be interested in hearing them.
posted by a louis wain cat at 8:42 PM on June 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


Of course very few people seem to realize the whole blow job foofaraw was started by Twisty at I Blame the Patriarchy...a complete shit-stirrer, who is fucking hilarious, and gave us the lovely words "godbag" and "fucktard".* She is somewhat bemused over all the solemn and heartfelt postings over blowjobs inspired by what she herself called "trolling her own blog."

Feminists get accused of having no sense of humor, but it would be hard to top the deadly seriousness with which some seem to take a completely over-the-top anti-blowjob rant from a lesbian. Oh well.

*as in "bastard," not as in the mentally challenged.
posted by emjaybee at 9:12 PM on June 25, 2006


Brandon Blatcher:No, since much of the discussion seems to be about how terrible men are, in one form or another.

Are you familiar, and if so do you agree, with many feminists' points that men and boys in our society learn a dysfunctional kind of masculinity, that much "terrible" behaviour by men is promoted by our culture? (Learned by example, and by what modern media messages usually promote as "real man" ideals - real men don't cry ie express emotion, real men dominate women sexually, real men put work ahead of famiiy, eg) This is also known as Patriarchy Hurts Men Too. ie, a lot of us think that the system limits men (differently than it limits women) with stereotypes whose idealization contributes to the root of "terrible" behaviour. Would you say that emphasizing this kind of background would help defuse men's defensiveness?

Or do you just think that the "terrible" behaviour isn't in fact terrible?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:39 PM on June 25, 2006


bugbread: It's tough. The more radical positions and statements basically are the equivalent of personal attacks...or rather, impersonal attacks (not "You, bugbread, are sexist", but "Blowjobs are sexist. People who get blowjobs are perpetuating sexism. If you get, or got and enjoyed, blowjobs, you are perpetuating sexism."), so it's not surprising that people perceive them as attacks. And since attacks stick out much more than non-attacks, if you have 1 attacking statement and 20 non-attacking statements, people are going to discuss the attack more than the non-attack.

Are they attacks or are they just something you perceive as attacks. The entire point of political analysis is that some actions have political consequences.

For example: The mass use of fossil fuels causes certain long-term harms for the environment. People who use fossil fuels are harming the environment to various degrees. If you use fossil fuels, you are harming the enviornment.

Now someone could get knee-jerk defensive and say that these statements are indirect attacks on automotive drivers as a class. Said hypothetical person could say that those statements are "shrill," and put cyclists and pedestrians into a position where they are automatically correct no matter what.

Or you could listen to the political analysis behind such statements and find some points of reasonable disagrement.

The basic problem is that in labeling such criticisms as "impersonal attacks" and "shrill" you are doing a very good job of dismissing the message in its entirety. I find the argument that it's naive to talk about things like blowjobs and housework in isolation from a larger political and social context to be compelling enough that they should not be reflexively dismissed as "impersonal attacks" or "shrill."

bugbread: I get a totally different impression. The implication I am reading is that women are not allowed to unilaterally dictate what counts as important, but that both parties should compromise.

I find that this implication has been introduced and repeated extensively and almost entirely by yourself. Or to be even more blunt, I not seen a feminist text (outside of some really nutty femdom stuff that has print runs numbering in the 100s) argue that women can unilaterally dictate "what counts as important" in a relationship. Some will debate the differences between "compromise" and other forms of mutualism. But the endpoint advocated by both radical and liberal feminists is almost always some form of consensus relationship.

I think the sticking point is that radical feminism argues that a consensus relationship is incompatible with the kinds of gender roles that we are raised to play. And again, I think that argument is at the very least strong enough that it shouldn't be rejected reflexively.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:25 PM on June 25, 2006


Part of the issue I see is that society often marginalizes women by saying that whatever they're concerned with isn't serious or important enough to be of broad concern. So debates about housework get dismissed as "not a big deal." Women writers get dismissed as "just writing about clothes and guys." Discussions about policies that should affect both men and women -- family-friendly workplaces, daycare, etc. -- get thrown into some weird category called "women's issues" and more or less ignored.

So when I say something like, "Who gets to decide what's important?" it's all very well to say that in an individual couple, the two people involved should find a compromise. They should. But they should also be aware that the assumptions and behaviors they're bringing to that interaction have been formed in a society in which the things that women do are often dismissed as trivial, unimportant, and not worth thinking about. Therefore, the second an individual in that relationship starts classifying things traditionally done by women as "not a big deal," I feel there should be alarm bells going off.

Not because vacuuming is necessarily a huge issue. But because when the same interaction happens over and over again -- woman does something, society tells her that what she's done is cute and sweet but not particularly important and certainly not important enough for men to care -- then we need to start paying attention to the individual manifestations of that.
posted by occhiblu at 11:06 PM on June 25, 2006 [2 favorites]


occhiblu: Good points. I also think that "Who gets to decide what's important?" is one of those questions that radical feminists criticize as missing the point. It assumes that in any relationship that there are two competing sets of values that require a compromise.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:19 PM on June 25, 2006


a louis wain cat: Okay, no one, or at least no one anyone's ever heard of, said "all sex is rape." It always gets attributed to Catharine Mackinnon or Andrea Dworkin, and neither one of them actually said it.

I'd forgotten that from the last debate on this. However, I have seen stuff that Andrea Dworkin actually wrote, and it is pretty twisted. 45 seconds with google will show you better examples than I can post here. She's not the only one, either.

Furthermore, the lunatics in their movement show up fairly often... just look at the Duke trial where they practically tried to lynch the accused students.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:27 PM on June 25, 2006


As far as the "housepride fetish," I think you're being slightly obtuse.

I think you must have never experienced the typical Liverpudlian matriarchal family, MedievalMaven. You resist the housework diktat at your own peril.

Withdrawal of food and sexual favours are the very least of your worries. As with the Borg, resistance is futile.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:35 AM on June 26, 2006


You know, you needn't rely on anecdotal evidence to analyze the veracity of feminist claims regarding the division of household labor. It's a very actively studied field, with data collected from social strata the world over. And, the world over, study after study after study finds that, even in dual-earning and relatively egalitarian households, women still do far more of the household labor, including physical upkeep of the home and child-rearing. In households where such work is most equally distributed, there is greater marital satisfaction, happier and more thriving children, and lower divorce rates.

Housework is undervalued work, and social scholarship is undervalued scholarship, which I suppose makes both easier to discount. However, before you rely solely on your own personal experience or choose to take the issue lightly, you should be aware that there is a large and well researched body of literature out there that affirms that the world over, women's largely unpaid and undervalued labor helps to keep the engine of society running. It deserves respect and it deserves support, not defensive jokes and contempt.
posted by melissa may at 1:05 AM on June 26, 2006 [2 favorites]


Are you familiar, and if so do you agree, with many feminists' points that men and boys in our society learn a dysfunctional kind of masculinity...

Yes and yes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:28 AM on June 26, 2006


cybercoitus interruptus : "What about 'You're crazy to expect me to (cook dinner)(put my own dishes in the dishwasher) (move my used dishes from the table) (scrape out my own dishes), after I've been at work all day, and all you've been doing all day is staying at home'?"

To be honest, I think it really depends on the amount of work at home. For example, my wife quit working before the baby was born. At that time, I would agree that expecting me to cook dinner, et al, would be crazy, in that it would be unequal. It isn't so much "all you've been doing all day is staying at home" as much as "we should divide our labour. I'll do the company end work, you do the home end work." To do otherwise would be to divide the labour unequally, with me doing all the company work and half the housework. To rephrase: to split the housework evenly would be, effectively, to say "In order for us to be equal, we'll share the housework, and the stuff I do at my company doesn't count, because it isn't work, it's just me goofing off at the office."

The reason I say "that depends on the amount of work at home" is that, now that we have a baby, the work distribution is much different. Let's imagine fictionary Work Units (WU). Doing housework is 100 WU. Taking care of the baby while I'm at work is 100 WU. Working at the office is 100 WU. Taking care of the baby while I'm home is 100 WU. So, how can labour be equally divided in this case? Obviously, my wife can't go to my office, and I can't take care of the baby while I'm at work, so those two units are allocated to each of us. That leaves 100 WU of housework and 100 WU of babycare. The fair split would be that we share the house duties equally, and share taking care of the baby equally. This is a different split than took place before the baby arrived, because the amount of work has changed dramatically.

The point of all that is that to make any declarations of how housework should be split by all couples is untenable. There are too many other factors to take into account (kids, disabilities, house size, climate, and a billion others). The decision really needs to be made on a case-by-case basis.

KirkJobSluder : "I find that this implication has been introduced and repeated extensively and almost entirely by yourself. Or to be even more blunt, I not seen a feminist text (outside of some really nutty femdom stuff that has print runs numbering in the 100s) argue that women can unilaterally dictate 'what counts as important' in a relationship."

Sorry, I may have been unclear. Putting the two sentences closer together here may make it clearer:

occhiblu: "the responses here seem to be implying..."

bugbread: "The implication I am reading is..."

Occhiblu is talking about what the responses by the nonfeminists in this thread are implying, and I'm saying that what I'm reading them as implying as different. I'm not talking about what feminists are or are not actually saying or implying, and I'm not saying that what the nonfeminists in this thread are implying is true, just what I am reading the nonfeminists in this thread as saying.

occhiblu : "Therefore, the second an individual in that relationship starts classifying things traditionally done by women as 'not a big deal,' I feel there should be alarm bells going off."

We are in total agreement there (and, in fact, for 90% of the stuff we're discussing).
posted by Bugbread at 6:15 AM on June 26, 2006


bugbread: In that case, see melissa may.

She makes the point that's been rolling around in my head but I couldn't quite figure out how to articulate: I swear, I am not in any way attacking you, bugbread, and how you and your wife split house duties. Nor am I making the assumption that any one man in this thread treats his particular wife or partner unfairly.

What I am assuming, based on mounds of statistics and reports and anecdotal reports, is that on average, women take on a disproportionate amount of the housework and childcare duties, even when they have full-time jobs. I am saying that's a problem.

The fact that it may not be a problem in your household does not mean it's not a problem in general. Rape is not a particular problem in my house, war is not a particular problem in my house, racism is not a particular problem in my house, hunger and poverty are not particular problems in my house. That does not mean those problems don't exist for many, many, many other people, or that my experience as a priveleged straight white woman is representative of every woman's experience.

Nor does it mean these problems are trivial, easily solved, or that women are just "not trying hard enough" -- which is exactly the point Hanisch makes. Reducing the debate to single instances is a way, unconscious or not, to say the problem doesn't matter simply on your say-so.

And I realize that many men leap up to defend themselves because they feel personally attacked when someone starts talking about the sociological category "men," and that the defense is usually (at least in this group) coming from a good, sincere place. But jumping up to defend oneself means that you're talking rather than listening. And whether or not you, in particular, fit into the statistical average is not as important to any of us as how to make sure that every woman is as lucky as your wife when she has to negotiate these issues with her partner.
posted by occhiblu at 7:52 AM on June 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


The point of all that is that to make any declarations of how housework should be split by all couples is untenable. There are too many other factors to take into account (kids, disabilities, house size, climate, and a billion others).

That's what I was going to say in response to Riemann's keeping a reaonably sized home clean (when there are no kids actively tearing it apart) and maybe doing some shopping is a couple hours a day of labor max.. Like occhiblu and melissa may, when I made my comments I was thinking of statistically significant trends demonstrating systematic devaluation, and inequities in the distribution, of household work. Not the personal situation of any individual here.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:05 AM on June 26, 2006


>I hear this "crazy extremists have taken over feminism" thing a lot, and it's always incredibly vague. What I would say, as a supporter of feminism, is that anti-feminists have thrown a bunch of smears around with little regard for the truth, and that a lot of them have basically achieved urban legend status, but of course I'm biased. If you can give some more specific examples of what you mean, I'd be interested in hearing them.

Yes and yes. I was just about to post a question asking if anyone who was bringing up this argument could actually name any names of these "man-hating" feminists other than Andrea Dworkin (who is now dead) or Catherine MacKinnon, or other figures (Shulamith Firestone, perhaps?), all of whom were most active in the movement twenty years ago. Feel free to point out to me who these women are, and exactly where their influence is supposed to lie.
posted by jokeefe at 10:22 AM on June 26, 2006


occhiblu : "What I am assuming, based on mounds of statistics and reports and anecdotal reports, is that on average, women take on a disproportionate amount of the housework and childcare duties, even when they have full-time jobs. I am saying that's a problem."

Right, sorry, maybe I was being unclear, but we're in total agreement about that. I never meant to argue that it wasn't a problem in general because it wasn't a problem in my house, and I'm sorry it came across that way. I just had a beef with the blanket statement implying that the person who cares the most about how much housework takes place is automatically the oppressed party. If it said "almost always" or "usually" or the like, I wouldn't have said anything. I'm really anal, that's all, and I didn't intend my initial comment to be a big "directing the course of the discussion" comment, just a small sideline comment. Please don't take it as a tacit dismissal of the importance of the issue; if anything, the more important an issue, the more anal I get, because accuracy becomes that much more important.

Anyway, point is, that was all a tangent, and I'm sorry that it misdirected the meat of the discussion due to my verbosity.
posted by Bugbread at 10:48 AM on June 26, 2006


I think the point about "being the oppressed party" is this: It seems like in many households, patrolling the housework and childcare duties is a woman's task. Guys may actually *do* a reasonable amount of the work, but the one thinking about when the work needs to be done, or monitoring whether the household is running low on cleaning products or diapers, or making a list of everything that needs to be packed into the diaper bag for the trip, is the woman.

For instance, how many people do you know have systems in which the wife writes down all the chores for the day, or is the one who needs to "nag" the husband to clean the bathroom, and the guy claims that he has no problem with housework, he just "doesn't see the mess" and "needs to be reminded" about when to clean?

The time that a woman spends monitoring the house is time that she could spend doing other things -- like thinking about work, or pursuing her hobbies, or crashing out on the couch and relaxing. The time that a man doesn't spend monitoring the house is time that he probably does use to think about work, or pursue his hobbies, or crash out on the couch and relax.

That's the "oppression" that Bitch Ph.D. is referring to (which, on rereading, is not necessarily clear in that one post, but has been a constant in much of the discussion on Hirschman's article). It's not just a question of who's doing the housework or childcare, but who "owns" the responsibility for the housework and childcare.
posted by occhiblu at 11:05 AM on June 26, 2006


Occhiblu:

The only problem I have with that is that: 1) The monitoring will most likely be done by the person who wants the work done most frequently, and 2) It assumes that, therefore, the person who wants the work done most frequently is therefore oppressed.

To take an extreme example: let's say there is a couple where the wife wants the dishes to be cleaned every night, and the husband wants each dish to be cleaned immediately after use. In this situation, the husband will therefore monitor the cleaning of the dishes, owns the responsibility, and is therefore oppressed? The logic just doesn't ring true to me.

I agree that, at the end of the day, women are often oppressed, made to do unequal amounts of housework, devalued, etc. I just disagree that monitoring housework ipso facto makes one oppressed, which is the argument I'm hearing (and please correct me if I'm reading incorrectly).
posted by Bugbread at 11:55 AM on June 26, 2006


I think it helps to go back to the original quote:

In fact, I believe that this [domestic labor] is the single most irretrievably gendered division-of-labor issue for couples who want to be, or think they are, equals: the person whose job it is to monitor that equality is the person who has the least power.

She doesn't mention "oppression," she mentions power. The power that she's talking about, based on Hirshman's article, is economic power. And she doesn't mention who's doing individual tasks, but whose "job it is to monitor that equality." She's not talking about who's doing the dishes or vacuuming, but who's making sure that the labor is equitably divided.

So I think what's she's saying is this: Whoever is the "nagger" in the household is the person holding the least economic power.

The Hirshman article makes the point that women holding little economic power are likely going to face a host of hard decisions in their domestic life, based almost solely on the fact that they majored in art and yet married overworked engineers. Bitch Ph.D. makes this explicit:

That's why "don't put yourself in a position of unequal resources" is absolutely crucial advice: if you're going to have to monitor your marriage to make sure that it's an equal partnership, then that is in and of itself part of the labor of the relationship. That "counts," and having to do that "extra" work will be a lot more palatable, and possible, if you ensure from the outset that all other aspects of your marriage distribute resources equally. Otherwise you're stacking the deck against yourself, and at some point, yes: it is going to be "easier" to "choose" not to pursue a demanding career and have children and keep a clean house and play the referee in your own marriage.

In other words, don't let your work be undervalued in the way that traditional marriage tends to undervalue the woman's contribution. That contribution not being dishwashing, but the time, effort, and thought required to keep the partnership equitable, to make sure that things are fair, to make sure that both partners are happy. Contributions that women traditionally make to a relationship, almost unconsciously, that constitute what could be called "social labor" contributed to the relationship.

Which was my point above -- Who's the one losing spending time thinking about the relationship, about the equality of the relationship, about how to improve the equality of the relationship? It's almost guaranteed not to be the person with the most power in the relationship.
posted by occhiblu at 12:20 PM on June 26, 2006


So, in your example, the husband, if he were in fact doing the majority of domestic-labor policing, is most likely "oppressed," in his particular household, in the rather Marxist sense of not having the same economic power as his wife.

I think she's talking more correlation than causation.
posted by occhiblu at 12:32 PM on June 26, 2006


To bring this full circle then, Bitch|PhD's commandment: ...the best marital advice I have to give is be willing to be a bitch about housework... is to repress oneself?

I agree that planning any duty, be it at home or in the workplace, takes time and isn't necessarily pleasant, but that's reducing the argument to absurdity. Honestly, people never stop thinking this way anyway, so it's pointless to think fairness calculations as part of the (real) oppression. In any successful relationship both partners are going to feel like they're doing more than their fair share. There's always a bit lost to entropy.

I also find talk about this in pure power and dominance terms really distasteful. If the object is to build consensus, is using the language of dialectic really an optimal way to discuss this? An ideal relationship is not one between opposed factions, but a cooperative one. Approaching the discussion from a perspective of resource sharing, namely time and effort, has always worked better in my household. Rather than make this a one-on-one dominance conflict, make it an optimization task for the two.
posted by bonehead at 1:03 PM on June 26, 2006


To bring this full circle then, Bitch|PhD's commandment: ...the best marital advice I have to give is be willing to be a bitch about housework... is to repress oneself?

No, that's completely backwards. Her point is that someone is going to be doing it, so that person should make the labor visible, to make it count as work, to ensure that it's caculated in the equation.
posted by occhiblu at 1:09 PM on June 26, 2006


I think you're arguing against yourself here.

You say above: So I think what's she's saying is this: Whoever is the "nagger" in the household is the person holding the least economic power.

By becoming the "bitch" as her advice puts it, that person volunteers for the submissive role (there's that horrible Marxist language again). As you rightly point out above, putting the problem on the table in those terms lessens one's power in a relationship. That's the contradiction. You don't solve a problem by adopting the role of the beta-dog. Nor do you solve the problem (the overall structural problem, not the personal one) by becoming the alpha dog. Both options are buying into the power structure that's be bad part of the "patriarchy". Those roles need to be broken, not negotiated.
posted by bonehead at 1:28 PM on June 26, 2006


No, you're missing the definition she's using for "power"; like I said, she's talking about economic power, not personal power.

Nagging does not get you a higher-paying job, but it does increase the visibility of the work you are actually doing, thus showing how much work you are actually contributing to the household, even if your paycheck is smaller than his.

It's like the equivalent of unionizing. It's giving yourself a bigger voice and more bargaining power.

I don't necessarily 100% advocate what she's saying (though I do agree with most of it), but I do want to make sure we're judging her arguments on her terms. She and Hirshman are making an economic argument, and Hirshman at least has a very conservative view of what power means: high-paying well-respected job and the financial means to be independent.
posted by occhiblu at 1:39 PM on June 26, 2006


Sorry, "nagging" is the wrong word there. Bitch Ph.D.'s suggestion is narrating all the work you're doing, again, in an effort to make "hidden work" visible:

My advice is, go ahead and do what needs to be done. But let him know what you are doing every goddamn step of the way, and let him know that it pisses you off. "I've just gotten home from work, it's nice to see you're home earlier than I am. Before I take off my coat, I'll put your shoes away for you, shall I? Oh, and I'll pick up your coat from the floor and hang it up. Okay, now I can take off my own coat and hang it up right away, instead of dropping it on the floor for someone else to pick up later. I see there's no dinner started, I'll just get on that shall I? First, though, I'll clear the mail off the dining room table where you seem to have dropped it when you walked in the door. I'll file it over here where it belongs. Ok, now I'm going to go into the kitchen to get a sponge to wipe off the table, which I see hasn't been wiped since breakfast--I guess you didn't have a chance to do that yet, since you had to sit down and read the paper first, right? Wow, now that I'm in the kitchen, I see that before I can start dinner I have to load the dishwasher, but before I can do that I have to unload it...."

If you do that for a week or so, both of you will start to notice how much work is being done, and how unfair the distribution is.

posted by occhiblu at 1:44 PM on June 26, 2006


And bonehead, I personally do agree with this: "Nor do you solve the problem (the overall structural problem, not the personal one) by becoming the alpha dog. Both options are buying into the power structure that's be bad part of the 'patriarchy'. Those roles need to be broken, not negotiated."

I'm just trying to separate out some of the arguments here. There's of course something to be said for finding social (for lack of a better word) solutions that don't involve economic power struggles. And for the most part, that's where more of my interest in feminist movements lies.

But the articles bugbread objected to were making an economic argument, not a social one, which means the definitions of "oppression" are different. And I wanted to make sure we weren't using a social definition of oppression when rebutting an article about economic oppression, if that makes any sense.

And what is interesting to me about Hirshman's article is her assumption that with greater economic power, women will achieve greater social power. So the two do (obviously) tie into each other.
posted by occhiblu at 1:58 PM on June 26, 2006


I've read and reread this and I still don't think the separation is that clear-cut. The personal and social is too intertwined here to distingish the two. Housework and particularly child-care isn't a purely economic issue, it's also, perhaps mostly, social and personal. I'm convinced that much of the talking-past that's gone on here and on the BPhD's threads is the conflation of the econmic and the social.

If it were so simply an economic power issue, frankly, the alpha partner could simply pay the beta partner for the work done. If the beta didn't want to do the work themselves, they could farm the work out to a housekeeper and/or childcare. This avoids the dilemma of choice bugbread alludes to above (whoever wants a cleaner house pays more, for example). Problem solved. I strongly suspect that most couples would find such a stark division of labour very unsatifactory, however.
posted by bonehead at 2:40 PM on June 26, 2006


Isn't that what's basically happening among couple with enough money to do so, though? Paid house cleaners and childcare? And the idea of paying stay-at-home moms (with Social Security contributions, for example) has been floated many times.

Like I said, I agree the total issue is more complicated, but the economic arguments are something that were new to me this winter and I find a lot of them very compelling for solving certain aspects of certain problems among a certain set of people.

Which, really, is part of the problem with acting like there's one "feminism." All feminists are certainly not saying that getting higher-paid jobs is going to solve every aspect of women's lives, nor did Hirshman present her argument as if it would. But I think it's important not to dismiss one line of reasoning simply because it doesn't address the entirety of the problem -- because these problems are big enough that one solution probably won't fit all.
posted by occhiblu at 2:53 PM on June 26, 2006


The reason I'm interested in setting aside the personal on this topic and bringing it back to the quantifiable, to reality, is that no matter how admirably fair the division of labor is in any one private home, there is no modern society on earth where it is apportioned or compensated equally with other forms of labor. If, as bonehead mentions, men in aggregate were to hire the personal accountants, laundresses, housekeepers, cooks, nannies, ad infinitum to equalize the amount of labor both spouses spend on those tasks, the disparity would have a tangible dollar amount. There have actually been intriguing studies on monetizing household labor -- what's involved in quantifying it and assigning it value. It's only by making it less personal that it develops shape as a form of social injustice.

No, I do not want to live in a household where every chore each spouse performs is toted up and weighed; that is indeed a cold and unpleasant sounding way to live. Yet we are quite accustomed to having our outputs and efficiencies measured in the workplace and having to prove that we are earning our keep. I'd like to see some of that same clear-eyed logic applied to household labor more often. Each household is a mini-economy, surviving on tangible monetary units but also on units of labor. Economically sound marriages are based on some routine expectations: that neither partner will exceed in spending what both earn; that savings will be maintained; that bills will be handled on time. Why not treat household labor the same way? Both spouses clean the messes each makes, both spouses earn "savings" by exceeding their share of the labor, both spouses agree to a basic level of competency and timeliness when completing tasks. The private, domestic functions of life are then elevated to the same importance as the public ones and everyone's contributions are recognized as essential to the household's success.

In other words: you know that person in your office, the one who coasts by on connections, charm, or past successes, but who actually produces very little? The one who causes you to work twice as hard as you'd have to otherwise, but for none of the glory or pay? If you resent that person at work, don't be that person at home.
posted by melissa may at 3:37 PM on June 26, 2006 [2 favorites]


What I am assuming, based on mounds of statistics and reports and anecdotal reports, is that on average, women take on a disproportionate amount of the housework and childcare duties, even when they have full-time jobs. I am saying that's a problem.

Why is that a problem? And what sort of remedy are you looking for?

Seriously, I'm trying to understand your arguement here. Are you saying that men and women work the same number of hours at their fulltime jobs and both are demanding in the same way and the women still does most of the housework? What exactly do you mean by housework anyway, doing the dishes, laundry, cutting the lawn, doing the hedges, what?

I'm not trying to snarky or smart ass, but to me, you're making a several broad generalizations with that statement, while concentrating on minor problems (the large problems being the way women are seen as prey and/or property to hunted/controlled) and ignoring some basic roles that the sexes seem designed to do, like women concentrating on kids while men provide. No, it doesn't have to be like that and women certainly shouldn't be forced into that role, but jesus, it seems that feminists often chose to completely ignore the previous roles of men and women because there were negative aspects of said roles.

Maybe women just like keeping the house cleaner, be that hardwired or cultural.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:22 PM on June 26, 2006


bonehead: 1) The monitoring will most likely be done by the person who wants the work done most frequently, and 2) It assumes that, therefore, the person who wants the work done most frequently is therefore oppressed.

I think there is a huge leap of logic between those two statements. So large as to be an almost total nonsequitor.) Most usually, "oppression" is defined in terms of social class. So for example, African Americans are oppressed in U.S. culture. Some symptoms: higher poverty rates, systemic bias in criminal justice systems, lower life expectancy. Now of course you can find individuals who buck the trends, but these don't change the overall class issue.

To bring this full circle then, Bitch|PhD's commandment: ...the best marital advice I have to give is be willing to be a bitch about housework... is to repress oneself?

Is it the case that "bitch" is being used in that way? There is a significant effort to reclaim the word "bitch" as meaning a woman who is willing to expose "distasteful" truths.

I also find talk about this in pure power and dominance terms really distasteful. If the object is to build consensus, is using the language of dialectic really an optimal way to discuss this? An ideal relationship is not one between opposed factions, but a cooperative one.

I don't see how you can build a true consensus in many cases without talking about the elephant in the bedroom here: the fact that most couples walk into a relationship reflexively playing dominance roles.

By becoming the "bitch" as her advice puts it, that person volunteers for the submissive role (there's that horrible Marxist language again).

By revealing the "distasteful" possibility that this dynamic might be happening in the relationship, then they can start working on different roles. And I'm baffled as to how Marxist language is horrible in talking about a situation that seems to fit that kind of analysis.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:39 PM on June 26, 2006


occhiblu, wshat's interesting to me is that the bit you quote where you're defining "narrating" as against "nagging" is an almost perfect description of how the house looks when I come home from work to take over household-and-child duties form my wife.

Even more interesting is that I refrain from nagging (and I do think it's nagging, not "narrating") because nagging is unconstructive, and because of the Golden Rule: there are many places where I fall short of the mark and I don't like it when my wife is patronizing and nagging to me. I always assume she's acting in good faith to the best of her ability and energy, and I am well aware of the fact that there isn't always timne to get everything done and that she has different house-cleaning priorities than I.
What that takes is compassion and imagination and a lot of hard work on the part of both partners. We have both changed our habits and way of seeing the world during the course of our marriage, and I would say that it is because we make a conscious decision to not depersonalize our household labor and economy. There are times when I do thing for no other reason than because I've been asked to. I think they're silly/unecessary/not a priority, but my partner has asked me to do it, and so I do. My wife makes the same choices. This is the exact opposite of the solutions I read in the articles and forums linked in this post, but for us, it is bedrock of our relationship.
Compassion and kindness are, in the end, much more difficult and costly than economic or political soutions. And they're unpopular wuith academic theorists and Marxists.

I'll grant you, of course, that not all husbands (or wives) are capable of compassion or kindness, and, as the divorce stats prove, people have a hard time making marriages that work. The jury is out for me on whether or not the tactics prescribed by the linked articles and discussions are effective on a practical level, that is, I am having a difficult time imagining an uncompassionate and/or unkind person being persuaded by magging/marrating to change thier behavior and outlook. At best, this sort of discourse might be best used in a purely academic sense -- for diagnostic purposes.

Also, I am typing in the dark, for which I ask forgiveness.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:07 PM on June 26, 2006


Brandon Blatcher: . . . ignoring some basic roles that the sexes seem designed to do, like women concentrating on kids while men provide. . . . it seems that feminists often chose to completely ignore the previous roles of men and women because there were negative aspects of said roles.

Got a citation to illlustrate that this is often what motivates feminists? vs., say, the history of the male breadwinner - female homemaker configuration, which in the US began with the Industrial Revolution (not since time immemorial)?

Also, the problem is not just disproportionately distributed housework and childcare. It's also the societal characterization of this kind of work as low-status and minimally contributory.

eustacescrubb: I am having a difficult time imagining an uncompassionate and/or unkind person being persuaded by magging/marrating to change thier behavior and outlook

Making the "invisible" (unrecognized, unacknowledged, taken for granted) work, visible, opens the option of persuasion later, however small. . There's zero chance of persuasion if the unaware person continues to be oblivious.

I'll be computer-free for a couple of weeks so that's all from me, but thanks all for illustrating that degenerative name-calling is not a foregone conclusion of threads about feminism.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:52 AM on June 27, 2006


(Yeah, seriously, this thread went so much better than I had ever anticipated.)

Brandon Blatcher, what I would say, in addition to cybercoitus interruptus's point that our current gender roles are pretty new, is that they're really limiting to all involved. Of course there are women who want to spend the majority of their time with kids, raising their own or teaching others'. Of course there are men who are motivated solely out of a desire to accumulate wealth, to buy the right things for people close to them.

But is that really what you want? Do you really want, as a man, to cede all responsibility for your child? Do you want to spend all your time worrying about money, away from your family, working long hours to pay bills? Is that the only thing you think men are capable of? Is that the only, or the best, way that men can show others they love them?

My father worked very long hours when I was growing up. I certainly got material advantages because of it, but I remember my generous allowance (or what I did with it) less than I remember him being there at my recitals, or taking us to the Aquarium on Sunday mornings. But my father still equates "love" with "money," which means that now when we see each other he buys me lots of nice stuff, which I appreciate, but still refuses to talk to me about a lot of important issues, which makes it hard for me to feel we have a close relationship.

Is this something you think all men want? To show affection just through material means, through providing? That seems really limited to me, and not at all the case among many men I know.

It seems that most religions and philosophies encourage the development of love, of compassion, of selflessness, of interconnection. By saying that men are good only for materially providing, I think you're cutting men off from the development of much of their finer qualities and turning them into workhorses.

And beyond that, I do think it's a problem that women working full-time do, on average, about 10 hours more housework each week than their working husbands. And what I see as a problem is that most men say "it's equal," most of their wives say "No, it's not," and then we're stuck in resentment and blame. It's not that men lie, it's just that the whole rub of housework is that if it's done well, it's invisible -- you don't notice a clean room, you notice a dirty one -- and since men have, for so many years, been let off the hook of "noticing" when things need to be cleaned, many men also don't notice when things have been cleaned. What I, and many of the authors I linked to are suggesting, is that by making that invisible work visible, by quantifying how much work is required to keep a household running smoothly, the negotiations about who should do what become fairer.

I mean, you've got people in this thread saying, "What, cleaning takes like three hours a week. It's stupid to say that's a lot of work." But it ignores the time required to think about the grocery list for the week, the time required to pick socks up off the floor every day, the mental planning for who needs to be up when so that everyone gets to daycare on time, etc. Work that's often not considered work and yet takes up a great deal of someone's time, generally a woman's.

At your job, the time required to think about a project is pretty much built in. You don't get paid just for doing things, you get paid for thinking about things, researching things, reviewing things. What people are talking about here is giving the running of the household the same respect, and visibility, of any other job.

Which brings me to ...
posted by occhiblu at 9:16 AM on June 27, 2006


eustacescrubb: I was differentiating "nagging" from "narrating" because they are different. Nagging is "You need to do X," while narrating is "I am doing X."

What was interesting to me about Bitch Ph.D.'s narrating approach is that it so neatly solves the problem of invisible work -- it banishes the "cleaning fairies" that somehow magically get all the straightening and cleaning-up done without anyone noticing. It forces a couple out of the idea of "Oh, cleaning only takes a few minutes!" and makes them confront the reality that no, someone (likely the woman) is doing it all the damned time. It quantifies all the work that is required to run a household smoothly.

So you're right, it is being used "for diagnostic purposes," and that's what she's advocating. She finishes that paragraph with this:

If you do that for a week or so, both of you will start to notice how much work is being done, and how unfair the distribution is. And both of you will have to make a decision. You will have to decide if doing this much extra work, every day for the rest of your life, is something you're willing to do to keep the marriage going. And he will have to decide if he is willing to listen to you bitch at him about it for the rest of his life, or if it would be easier to get up off his ass and do his fair share, or if he is so unwilling to get up off his ass that he would rather divorce you than be forced to notice how unfair he's being. That's the bottom line, and I recommend figuring out where it is sooner rather than later, and deciding whether or not you can live with it.

For everyone: Seriously, read the whole essay. I think she addresses a lot of the complaints that people are expressing here.
posted by occhiblu at 9:26 AM on June 27, 2006


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