On Living with a Man

I live with a man who describes himself as a feminist.  Considering this, it might sound surprising (or maybe not?) that our lifestyle has mildly fallen into tasks associated with each of our genders.

I typically spend one Saturday morning every two weeks or so cleaning our apartment—sweeping and sponging the floors, scrubbing the sinks, tub, and toilet, going through expiration dates in the fridge, and so on.  I learned this from my mother, I think—she religiously cleans the entire house every Saturday morning.  We hired maids before, but my mother never felt they did the job she could do.  Keep in mind my mother has  almost always worked a full time job, save the three years she had my brother and I.  Keep in mind also that my roommate and I have about the same school workload, and we both have part time jobs.

My roommate does do his own cleaning, but no sort of upkeep cleaning.  But this doesn’t bother me–I  prefer to do the cleaning of our apartment, just as my mother preferred to do her house’s own cleaning.

Yes, there is the stereotype of women being better housekeepers.  But what if I’m just actually the better housekeeper?  Being that I have worked as a manager in the food service industry, I know the ins and outs of safe and efficient cleaning—my roommate and I have agreed that I literally just know how to clean better (with the consequence of losing a job if I can’t identify proper cleaning).  But then how is that explained without still carrying a gender stereotype, as my mother’s situation may have carried?  Or will me being the “better cleaner” always carry the gender stereotype, even exclusively within the relationship of my roommate and I?

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One Response to On Living with a Man

  1. taek2012 says:

    I don’t doubt that you are a better cleaner due to your job in the food industry, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the issue here. The question is why your roommate — or just men in general — shouldn’t be expected to learn how. Anybody living in a house or apartment should be expected to do at least some of the housework, especially if both people living together have the same workload. I’m not saying that you two, specifically, should change your system, but I do think that saying one person is just “naturally” a better cleaner, and therefore should do all the work, perpetuates inequality. The important thing is to question the assumption that if one person is better at cleaning, they need to be expected to do it all. I also think it’s interesting what you brought up about your mom. It’s nice that she taught you partially how to clean well, but it is problematic if women are passing down this system of inequality to future generations.

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