I would like to recommend an article I used in class with Advanced students some years, ” So You Wanna Clean Your Apartment? (2 pages) Check out Speaking for housing issues”
For a few decades I shared an apartment/flat with men. Sometimes they were friends of mine, others they were people I had met or interviewed for this purpose. (If you like I have designed Speaking activities on Flatsharing we could do in class!) It was mostly men because it seemed women did not become independent then as often as they do now — if they do, which I do not know! I shared the house because I did not have the money to pay for a whole house for myself. And obviously, I rented. Never in a million years would I have dreamed/dreamt of OWNING a house!
My point: in spite of being a fully conscious feminist since 1989, I have to say I never ever managed to escape women’s cruel destiny in connection to cleaning the house. In my feminist view, cleaning a house is something the people living in that house should do, not the mothers, or the women. But in my society, the pressure on women about Clean Houses (or clean clothes on children, like C. pointed out) is one of the strongest and most silenced pressures the patriarchal system exerts. When a man’s house is untidy and not clean, that’s ok. It’s even manly. It’s always funny. If there is a woman in that house, the perception changes radically. She is the focus of the problem. She is the focus of criticism. Her nature, her personality is judged. In my experience, although I believe in dialogue and negociation, the “problem” was always ME. “What do you care what people think” “You are obsessed with cleaning”…
I have to say I’ve never been obsessed with cleaning. When I was a young women, I could live in untidy and dirty houses, just like men. Personally, I couldn’t care less. Socially I cared. I had to!! When someone came over, like the landlady or landlord, the pressure was almost physical on me, for me! It was an embarrassing experience — I (me!) was a dirty woman, not a Clean Woman. And men’s hearts could not be touched, moved. Solidarity is not an issue when it comes to men, women and cleaning. Fortunately, nowadays I live with someone who understands that cleaning dirt is not pleasant, and everybody should pitch in. We don’t even organize rotas. We just use our senses.
So — Please, Men, consider this: everyone needs to clean the place where one lives. You can organize rotas, or simply use your heart and mind!! I developed an allergy to dust because of all the dust I had to bear in my life. Still, I ended up being the only person in my shared flats/apartments who cleaned. “It’s your problem, if it annoys you — relax and enjoy”. Merciless!
This silenced problem — and not sex issues — probably explains why when women became independent they tended to live in women-only houses!
Cleaning is not about who brings the money home. Cleaning is a human need we need to share. The house doesn’t need to be absolutely clean. (I watch my present never across the road use a hoover/vacuum cleaner and cleaning the balcony every day, and I have to say it hurts because… guess… You did guess. Because even genderless language has an actual gender in patriarchy. She’s a woman.)