Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Some men do the dishes some of the time. A few men do the dishes all of the time. Most men never do the dishes. This is a truism in all domiciles where more than one gender resides, and, in my observation, in domiciles where only men reside as well! It puts me in mind of the complaint registered by civil rights activist Flo Kennedy that "cleanliness is next to godliness" pertains only to women! "In our society," she roared, "women are considered the dirt-searchers. Their greatest worth is eradicating rings on collars and coffee tables. Never mind your real estate board corruption or racism, here's your soap suds. Everything she's doing is either peripheral, expendable, crucial--and non-negotiable!"
Symbolically, the message is very clear. Men, like women, make a mess--but the mess is left for women to clean up. This has worked fairly well in the home, but extend the metaphor to the far reaches of our planet, and what do you see? The mess men have made of things--in our waters, our forests, the very air we breathe--cannot be cleaned up by women because women have been denied the power to clean up anything outside the home and its extensions (waitressing, maid service, laundering, practical nursing, copy-editing [here I intend that the field, so open to women, focuses on cleaning up the messy manuscripts of men], manicuring and pedicuring, bookkeeping [men make the expenditures, women keep them nice and neat], data entry [men are paid goodly sums to amass materials, women are paid bubkes to organize them], daycare and babysitting, and kindergarten teachers). In homage to that, I share with you the following women's quotations on subjects ranging from toilet bowls to order in the universe to women's work.
- In sisterhood,
Elaine Bernstein Partnow, Editor

In my home I hate doing the dishes. I love to cook, and when I clean I leave the kitchen to my man in the house. He's so great at doing the things I hate doing, and vis-a-versa. I can dust;vacuum; and clean the toilet. (I'll sweep and mop sometimes, but again I usually leave the kitchen clean-up to my him.) We do not have a dishwasher, and I'm sure that if I had one I'd be more willing to clean up these messy dishes I have made. With the subject of outside the home, I have noticed this in my own field. More women are willing to clean up the mess of others. In my field it pertains to the cleaning up of the parental mess of teenagers. Within my program alone, there are only 2 men who are included in this work. How does this correspond with your place of work or home?

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