Wednesday 14 June 2017

Mental load

As you know, if you've been here before, I surf a corner of the blogosphere which starts at 8-10 jumping off points and then goes off down any rabbit-holes that there present. Even these same-wavelength places have quite long fallow periods where there is nothing that captures my imagination - heck, that might be me in one of my downers. Then there will be a flurry of stuff that calls [yoo-hoo, you!] to be followed up.  If we still had children at foot, or I was a proper farmer, or I rejigged my course notes every year at The Institute, then I wouldn't have time for butterfly hops about other men's flowers.  Then again, I didn't start bloggin' myself until I was furiously busy at a new job and only a week ahead of my students.  I wouldn't say something like "If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it." that was Lucille Ball, I just lived it.  aNNyway, one of those jump-stations is Metafilter aka The Blue and the other day I saw a piece about role-filling in heterosexual relationships; that in turn was citing an original source. That source is interesting because it helps builds my knowledge of contemporary colloquial French because the author Emma is a thirty-something cartoonist who writes in French Faillait demander but gets her stuff translated into English You Should've asked when it goes viral. Her bailiwick is "Politique, trucs pour réfléchir et intermèdes ludiques"; which is whatever is floating her boat this week.

When I worked in the zoo in Rotterdam in the late 1970s, we all mucked [literally a lot of the time] in together but joked [*] that some of the daily tasks were vrouwenplicht - women's duty - while others were for The Men. As the latest addition to the team, I did all the [vrouwenplicht!] cleaning and polishing of the front panes of all the aquariums as soon as i started work and before Jan Publiek was allowed in to grub them up with their poky, pointy finger prints.
*you could make such jokes in those days without
fear of being called up by an Offense Tribunal.

Emma's position is that, although modern chaps fondly believe [ahhh bless, 'em] that they carry half the sky around the house -
  • they change diapers nowadays, 
  • can wash dishes or or at least load the dish-washer
  • can clean a toilet and mop the bathroom floor
  • cook up a storm for eight on the weekend - esp if barbecue involved
  • as well as the [bizarrely: who makes these decisions?] manly stuff
    • take out the trash
    • mow the lawn
    • wash the car
    • fix light-fittings
in fact all the mental heavy lifting is carried out by women.  The extensive commentary on Metafilter seems to agree.

We live in changing times! My father never changed a diaper in his life. I could and did; both in the 1970s with The Boy and in the 1990s with Dau.I and Dau.II. I could also sew on a button, turn up a trouser-cuff, cook, bake flapjacks, wash dishes and saucepans and clean a bath. But I remember, when Dau.I was about 8 weeks old, I was tasked to look after her for several hours while The Beloved went to a business meeting in town. At the end of the afternoon, the child was clean, fed and uninjured BUT diaper bin hadn't been emptied; there were dishes in the sink; the laundry was one wash behind schedule; the bed was unmade; and I had no idea whether there was sufficient tea, sugar or eggs in the house. I sent a You Should've asked link to the family and got two responses.
  • One from The Boy pointing out that the French do less housework than any other civilised country.  Skeptix alert: that is published in a British newspaper; an average of 16hrs/wk in France compared to 19hrs/wk in UK and you may be sure that stacks of ménages français do more [and less] than the UK average - the data distribution is going to be heavy on the variation and low of the average.
  • One from The Boy's partner: "SO not true in our house!"
That tells me that, in one family [so anecdote not data!], over three generations, The Man is stepping up to the plate and not just stepping up with a plate waiting for it to be filled.

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