He Said, She Said

Thursday, January 23, 2020
He said, "I'm going to write now," and he disappeared into his den. She said, "I'm going to write after I do the laundry and cook dinner and scrub out the bathtub," and the upper half of her disappeared into the dryer.

Yes, gender does matter.

I juggle working on my novel freelance writing with my full-time teaching job and all the stuff that needs to get done around the house. I do the lawn mowing, but other than that, not much yard work gets done. (The weeds are hardy. If they can't survive on their own, they deserve to die, and somewhere I read that when you accumulate a decade's-worth of sweet gum balls on the ground, they really enrich the soil... so I'm leaving them where they fall.) My husband does most of the cooking, but he also does most of the careless messing.

Leaving a spoon dripping of something on the counter... right next to the sink. Tracking in mud all over the house. (He and the dog tag team on this one.) Tapping his razor on the side of the sink, leaving a trail of whiskers--every single morning. (Turning on the faucet, a few inches away, is too much to expect, apparently.) And I won't even mention the unspeakable things that happen on the bathroom floor in the vicinity of the toilet.

If my husband had a passion--like creating watercolors or making things out of wood--I am quite sure he wouldn't feel it necessary to mop the floor, room by room, while he also painted or circular sawed. Instead, I'm almost sure that when the whim hit him, he'd just go into the basement or his "studio" (which would be the carport or our one solitary bathroom, since that's the only space we'd have available) to work on his craft... and thoughts about housework would not even enter his mind, let alone fly out the dusty window.

As a woman, I do have to juggle things. And as a woman writer, I'm not taken as seriously than if I were a man. If you think that mentality is a thing of the past--the idea that women should retreat into the drawing room and dabble in writing as a unimportant hobby--think again. Today, #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear is going strong. #WhatWoCWritersHear is even worse. I think that automatically, just because of what they have dangling a bit under their belt, male writers' work is considered with seriousness... while women's writing is considered a leisure activity--something that's done in their spare time.

I haven't seen the movie Marriage Story yet, but I have seen parts of the Laura Dern monologue, where she's ranting about the role and burden of women. And she's right.

Here is a wonderful article that includes tweets by Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat), Jodi Picoult and Cheryl Strayed. Check out some of the archaic comments.

I will never forget something I heard, even though it was said decades ago. A bunch of us had gone out to dinner together--some of us were childless but some of us had chewed off our legs to get away from the kids for the evening. One of us said to someone, "So, your husband's babysitting tonight?"

Babysitting? Is that what the everyday care of children is called when women do it? I think not.

Even I have been known to look admiringly at a dad who's playing in the park with his kids--with no partner in sight. What a wonderful father! Do I do that when I see a mom having fun with her children?

No. That's just the way it is. I have to shake the cobwebs off my own thinking occasionally, because in my mind, when people come into our house and see the dog hair dustbunnies and the toothpaste-spattered bathroom mirror, in my opinion, they don't say the two of us are slobs. Instead, according to my screwed-up thinking, they're giving me--and only me--a D+ on housekeeping skills.

When will my writing be considered as important as a man's? And when will my housekeeping (or lack of) be considered not-so-important?

Sioux Roslawski, despite how much she dislikes doing housework, loves this mop (she gets a leg workout each time she wrings it out), and she loves revising. Taking a rough first draft and refining it until it's a semi-fine piece of writing is satisfying, in her opinion. To read more of Sioux's stuff, go to Sioux's Page, her blog.


Myna said...

YES! Yes and yes, to all of this.

Renee Roberson said...

Ah, yes. Don't even get me started on this double standard. My husband tries to be as helpful as he can (he's in charge of the yard and tries to help with cooking and housework when he can, but it doesn't happen much with his schedule). I'm trying to figure out what would happen if I disappeared into my office every night and said, "I can't make dinner. This is my writing time." Would my family eat? When I got the opportunity recently to take on another paying gig recently, I suggested to the hubby that maybe we could get someone to help deep clean the house once a month. His response? "Absolutely not. WE can do that." There are still dust tumbleweeds floating on the floor, and the lawn is so overgrown right now it's embarrassing. The kids are in charge of cleaning their own bathrooms and bedrooms on a weekly basis, and they loosely follow that plan. I can't help but feel like because my writing doesn't bring in benefits or a retirement plan, I should take on more of the household stuff. It's a terrible feeling.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yep. When I first got out of college and worked in broadcasting where men automatically made more money all the way to today, in the publishing industry.

Not to put too fine a point on that but FORTY YEARS?

Takes a lot of talking about an issue before certain folks recognize there IS an issue. *sigh*

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I'm lucky - most of the time. I live in Manland and as the only female REFUSE to be the sole anything else. My husband does the shopping. I do the laundry. All three of us (husband, me and the young adult) cook. I do more housework than the other two but I will also have a royal fit as needed. Our son is good at maintenance including carpentry and small electrican repairs.

But I also came up through the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Women's work there is taken seriously. Definitely lucky.


Margo Dill said...

My mom said to me that one of the things she regrets about my childhood is how much she worried about the housework instead of spending time with me. i have taken that to heart. Let me tell you with a day job, teaching/blogging/social media managing for WOW, writing, and editing and being a single parent of a 9 year old and a 1 year old puppy--I don't worry about what anyone thinks of my house keeping. I am currently sitting in my family room looking at the stuffing of a toy I bought my dog that she destroyed in 15 minutes LAST NIGHT, and I haven't picked it up yet. I have been busy. And I'm not worried about it. I'm not a slob, by any means, and I don't like clutter, but you have to let some things go. And if someone says something to me about it because I am a woman, well...I won't let it bother me but I will tell them they can come over here and clean my house for me anytime they like.

I do agree that the things you are bringing up are serious and are still going on which is CRAZY--right? CRAZY! I think we point them out when they happen, shout the injustice from the rooftops if we have to, and then go on about our business.

Great, thought-provoking post.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Preach it, Sioux! We talk about this in my writing groups all the time. How we, as women, seem to have so much guilt about making space for our art--the kind of guilt a man doesn't have. It's nuts. This comes from years and years of gender conditioning. I remember the first thing my FIL said when he moved in with us was "You can be the Queen of the kitchen" like he was gifting me with part of the house, the only part that I was allowed to be in charge of. Ugh!

But like Sue, I'm lucky--my husband is an artist as well and my biggest supporter, so we share everything--meals, laundry, etc--depending on who has more work to do. But he doesn't notice when the toilet needs cleaning or the dust bunnies in the corners, so I'm the one who always wants to clean. I used to insist on the house being spotless before people came over, but in the past year I've learned to chill a bit because he's been sick and it's just too much house.

You should watch Marriage Story. It's really good, and I love Laura Dern's character. :)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Myna--I think most women---all over the world---deal with this issue. Thanks for stopping by.

Renee--We have golden retriever hair tumbleweeds. They combine with the dust and--well, you get the picture.

Cathy--Yeah, lots of years of "talking" and then lots more years of figuring out a solution... (We'll sigh a duet.)

Sue--You DO have a wonderful set-up. I've figured that out in our conversations.

Margo--Your mom taught you a marvelous lesson, about what things matter and which ones definitely do not.

Angela--I do plan on seeing "Marriage Story." And when two artists live together, it DOES seem like there is more of a teamwork approach, because art comes first with those couples. Both my daughter and her partner are artists, and I see it with them as well... along with an art teacher colleague whose husband is also an artist.

Linda O'Connell said...

Certain people tell me I have a nice little hobby, writing. Sort of like some people who asked what kind of work I did, and when I replied I an an early childhood educator, they said, "OH YOU BABYSIT." Or worse, 'Ah, day care." NO, I teach. I write. I clean. We all do it all.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Linda--You are so right. Early childhood educators are considered--by some ignoramuses--to be at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to teachers. I could NEVER work with kids that young, so I bow down to you and other teachers who did/do it.

And if writing is your hobby, you're keeping reeeeally busy doing it. ;)

Pat Wahler said...

You hit the nail on the head again, Sioux. And as always, you do it in the most honest and entertaining way. :-)

Lynn said...

Well said!

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