ONTD Political

The modern woman's dirty secret

10:54 am - 04/27/2012
My name is Bryony Gordon and I have a dirty secret. I love cleaning. I mean I really love it. If cleanliness is next to godliness, one day I shall be made a saint - a saint with an exceptionally well-polished halo and a nice line in rubber gloves.

As the sun streamed through the windows last weekend, highlighting every bit of dust and slight smear of dirt in my home, I did not think: ''Oh no, I am going to have to waste a glorious day up to my elbows in muck.'' Instead, I got up at 8am with joy in my heart and a bottle of bleach in my hand. Because I love the smell of bleach more than any perfume.

It came as no surprise to me, then, to read that one out of three women secretly loves cleaning. Researchers have discovered that many find the process ''relaxing'', ''satisfying'' and ''therapeutic'', though only four in 10 would admit this to a partner - possibly due to horrid sexual stereotypes. I have no such qualms. My boyfriend enjoys tidying almost as much as I do. We fight over who gets to wash up (''me!'' ''No, me!''). We quarrel over whose turn it is to do the vacuuming. And we often have arguments over the iron which will one day end in third-degree burns.

The study found vacuuming, tidying and wiping surfaces clean are the chores women most enjoy. Cleaning the toilet and the oven are not so popular. On average, more than four hours a week are spent cleaning - ''more'' being the key word here, given that on Sunday I spent six hours vacuuming, washing, dusting and raking the garden of old leaves and cigarette butts (so satisfying).

To me, the most shocking thing about this survey isn't that a third of women enjoy cleaning, it is that two-thirds of them don't. Perhaps that is simply because I have chronic obsessive compulsive disorder. Most likely it is because we have been brought up to see cleaning as a chore, as something put-upon women of the 1950s did while their husbands earned money and seduced their secretaries.

The idea of a woman tending to her house became dirty, filthy, shameful, each mop of the floor a violent blow to feminism. But now that having a cleaner is no longer a Downton Abbey-style luxury and more of a middle-class necessity, the humble art of tidying has practically become a lifestyle choice. A hobby, even, akin to those trendy fashionistas who claim to knit and crochet in their spare time.

There is nothing more delightful than the sound of debris being sucked up a vacuum cleaner. Who could fail to be aroused - yes, aroused - by mopping away spillages from the kitchen floor? There is simply no lovelier way to spend a Sunday evening than ironing in front of the television; the smell of fresh starch and orange-and-pomegranate ironing water filling the room and your bed linen.

As saintly as this all sounds, the truth is that my love of cleaning is entirely self-serving. It makes me feel smug and allows me to cleanse myself of all sorts of other sins, such as coming home drunk and forgetting to pay the bills. Nobody can get cross with you if you have spent two hours cleaning the oven.

Tidying is a good way to claim superiority and get what you want. Indeed, there's a new survival guide for frustrated wives by a woman named Kerri Sackville. It is called When My Husband Does the Dishes (He Usually Wants Sex!). But it can work the other way around, too.

The Telegraph, London


I honestly find this piece rather patronising and a little insulting. I loathe housework, though I try my best to make sure I can make it from my bedroom door to my bed without having to navigate through piles of clothes (yes, the infamous floordrobe). I'm very proud of myself when I have a floor I can see.
sesmo 27th-Apr-2012 04:59 am (UTC)
I think it's legit to analogize the two as hobbies which are considered "feminine" and a "chore," but which a subset of people consider to be enjoyable.
othellia 27th-Apr-2012 05:04 am (UTC)
True, though knitting/crochet hasn't been a chore in the western world for a couple generations now and cleaning remains - and will remain - something that everyone has to do/ignore pretty much all the time. That and I can sit down and knit/crochet while watching TV or even scrolling through LJ posts, so for me at least it's something to keep my hands occupied while my brain engages in other activities.

Cleaning though... cleaning is just ugh.
sesmo 27th-Apr-2012 05:10 am (UTC)
I dislike knitting, and sewing. Then again I was forced to learn both in school.

I also dislike cleaning. I'd rather read a book, write a book, cruise the Internet, take a walk, or do a whole lot of things than either knit/crochet or clean.
spyral_path 27th-Apr-2012 05:26 am (UTC)
I think one of the major differences is that if you knit a sweater, you have something tangible and relatively permanent to show for your effort. But everything you clean just gets dirty again so it seems like pointless drudgery.
jazzypom I.A27th-Apr-2012 06:35 am (UTC)
I think one of the major differences is that if you knit a sweater, you have something tangible and relatively permanent to show for your effort. But everything you clean just gets dirty again so it seems like pointless drudgery.

All of this. The only reason I clean is because it contributes to calorie burning. For real. I've gotten better at cleaning as I've gotten older, but still hate cleaning house.

confectionqueen 27th-Apr-2012 12:09 pm (UTC)
This is one of the major reasobns I hate doing dishes. I spend 40 minutes doing the dishes and the next day it looks like nothing was done. Feels like an exercise in futility.
sasha_davidovna 27th-Apr-2012 10:56 pm (UTC)
Yup, this.

I don't like crafty stuff either (cooking is my favorite of the domestic arts) but that is exactly what I hate about housecleaning. Especially dishes. As soon as you finish dealing with one batch, somebody walks by and gets a snack or something and up the stack starts again. At least with laundry you can leave it sitting around for a few days without attracting ants or cockroaches or worse.
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