Our Dirty Laundry

A popular amusement for Jason, when we find ourselves in mixed company, is to ask the couples in attendance, "If you don't mind my asking, who does the laundry in your house?" His research to-date (not coincidentally supporting his thesis, due to what I believe to be selective sampling) delivers the conclusion that he is the only man in a relationship in America doing his own laundry. There's a quick head turn to me with the accusatory (mocking) question, "See, why won't you do my laundry?" Followed up by self-pitying frown.
Before I go too far, I will allow Jason a rebuttal here so that he won't continue to moan about being the "whipping boy for my blog." (That's a real quote, with overtones of melodrama.) When threatened with publication of this debate in blog forum, Jason rushed to include a statement that he is a "new age guy" and doesn't really think I should be doing all of the laundry. But he did make some comment about doing laundry being in exchange for the generosity of being granted right to vote. (Mocking again.)

I counter that now that we have important matters to consider like voting, there's just no time for extra laundry. My opinion is that my female peers who are doing their hubby or boyfriend's laundry are a failure in the solidarity with fellow women-folk, succumbing to the archiac, societally prescribed roles for women, that are no longer relevant since women are doing much more these days. (Woah, felt like I was back at Oberlin there for a minute...) I asked my Aunt Eleanor, who has been married twice, who did the laundry in her marriages. I found it telling that during her 1970s marriage, she did. In her 1990s marriage, the task was shared.
Some of my survey participants noted that their agreement to laundry had not been unconditional; it was in exchange for other chores assigned to him, i.e. keeping the kitchen clean, cleaning the bathroom. However, there was universal agreement that the woman's tolerance for dirt was lower than the man's and the chore often ended up being done less frequently than desired. I guess that bathroom cleanup has no neat definition of need and urgency such as, "I don't have any underwear."

Jason does see some of the rationale of my argument that he should do his own laundry, especially since he works from home, just 12 feet away from the washer/dryer. When I consider that my own commute is a grand total of 2 1/2 hours a day, I begin to consider if he should be doing mine.

The NYT recently offered an article on those pesky kinds of things that should be sorted out prior to marriage. The accompanying article offers tips like that you shouldn't just submit the list to your partner as though it's a quiz. (Which I did because I read the list first and then the article. Oopsie.) Agreement upon the divyving up of household chores like laundry makes the list at #3, and oddly so does whether or not there should be a tv in the bedroom.
NYT: Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying.

Finally, for the record, Jason does his own laundry, proving perhaps that he is the only man in a relationship in America that I want to be in a relationship with. And I do my own laundry.


andra said...

You go girlie! Stand your ground! I have to say that after several years of trying to get Mike to do the laundry "my way", he was forbidden from ever touching the hamper again...sometime way back in 2000 or so. I came to discover that, as a member of the male species, he was thoroughly incapable of folding the laundry in a timely fashion; choosing instead to leave it in a wrinkled and slightly damp lump in the basket for days on end. In recognition of this missing part of his conciousness, I have happily taken over all laundry duties, in exchange for less ironing of my own clothes. He does his own ironing. Oh, and our housekeeper washes all the towels and sheets, so at least I was able to outsource one part of the laundry! I think I've got it pretty good. Hee hee. :)


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