Any Man Who Won't Clean Is a Terrible Asshole (Or Old, or Both)

Any Man Who Won't Clean Is a Terrible Asshole (Or Old, or Both)

If you are a man in a relationship with someone (most likely a
woman) who is fed up with you because you don’t clean house at all, or as much,
or don’t do it competently, or have to be asked, or have to be yelled at, or
have to, in ANY way, shape, or form, be spoken to like a misbehaving child or an
egregious pet, then you are a terrible asshole. That’s right, dudes. It’s come
to this.

Let’s throw out some general situations real quick to answer
anyone’s immediate quibbles with what I’ve just written.

What if he isn’t
physically capable of cleaning because of disability or illness?

Jesus, of course, don’t even talk to me about this.

What if she just
likes to clean and he hates it and it’s not gender but it’s their personalities
and everyone is fine with that?

Hey, whatever floats your Swiffer boat.

What if she wishes he
would clean more but he just won’t because it’s just not his thing and he hates
it, but instead they have extra money and they use that to pay someone so no
one has to think about that shit?

Duh, if only we all had this answer.

What if he’s just an
older guy and he wasn’t raised like men today and even though she hates that he
won’t clean, you just can’t teach an old dog new tricks and stuff, but he’s a
great guy otherwise!

Old + asshole.

What if he’s a young
guy and he cleans more than his father but still not as much as she does
because he just wasn’t taught to and it’s not his fault?


What if he’s a late 30-something man and he wrote an essay about cleaning and splitting domestic chores, where he basically said
that men don’t clean because it’s like, not in their DNA to care and no men of
the future will ever clean either?

Grade-A Major Asshole Who Should Know Better, Do Better, and Clean More.

If you:

  • Think men and women and all people are equal
  • Live with a woman or a person
  • and
  • Are not splitting the cleaning of things in a
    way that is satisfactory to all parties involved
  • and
  • Any version of why has to do with the fact that
    you “weren’t raised to do it” or don’t think someone with a dick and
    balls should have to or “don’t care as much” or have some intellectual argument as to why you shouldn’t want to and aren’t doing the
    work to unpack that and just lift a fucking hand
  • then
  • You
  • are
  • being
  • an
  • asshole.

This is just like being someone who won’t come around to gay
marriage yet, or still thinks people of different races shouldn’t marry, or
thinks that a marrying woman has
to take the man’s name

If you don’t understand that the equal splitting of ALL
THINGS related to the managing of a household — EQUAL AS DEFINED BY YOU AND THE PERSON YOU ARE WITH — is essential to
ACTUAL EQUALITY, your excuses have run out, the time is up. You are an asshole.

Don’t come at me with some “But I mow the yard and take
care of all the cars so why should I have to clean the dishes.” If your
sitch makes you and all other relevant parties happy, I got no beef with you. Again,
if you’re splitting the duties in a way that is agreed upon, you’re fine, even
if that falls along gender lines and that’s what you like and everyone watches It’s a Wonderful Life together while
mother knits and father shines his shoes. I don’t care.

We are only talking about people who are unhappy with their arrangements, wherein those arrangements involve obvious dumb gendered thinking to get out of shit.

Why are we talking about this again? When we’ve talked
about it before

A dude named Stephen Marche (look, he is smirking at you) wrote a
whole essay about how men are doing only about as much housework as their
fathers. Men have undertaken many things their fathers did not do in the past —
childrearing, foodie-ism, thinking about their cuticles. But they will not, he
repeats, they will not clean. He asks:

So why won’t men pick up a broom? Why won’t they
organize a closet? Why can’t housework be converted — as the former burdens of
food preparation and child rearing seem to have been for some men — into a
source of manly pride and joy? Why would housework be the particular place to
At least one thing is becoming clear: The only
possible solution to the housework discrepancy is for everyone to do a lot less
of it.

For the next coupla grafs, I got no beef with Stephen Marche
and his smirking. I don’t like to clean. I was raised with all women, so when
we cleaned it was only about chores and never so much about a gendered idea
that we were supposed to be good at it and get all preciously warm inside when
we did. As a result, I’m totally willing to clean, and I know how to clean, and
I love having cleaned, and every so often it does satisfy, but by and large, I
hate that shit. It just wasn’t taught to me as part of girl-ness. However, the difference between me and Stephen Marche is that it
was taught to me and that instead of thinking of it as a gender thing, I think of it as a good roommate/partner thing. You do it whether you like it or not because not doing it makes you an Asshole.

Things Stephen Marche is right about:

  • Yes, cleaning a house is more complicated than
    it seems.
  • Yes, there’s no agreed-upon definition of what
    has to be done in a household.
  • Splitting it equally is harder to figure out
    than you’d think.
  • Women are now doing less housework, which is
    good, but still more than dudes.

Things Stephen Marche is wrong about:

  • It may take work to negotiate equitable
    divisions of labor, but it’s not the riddle of the Sphinx here. It can be done.
    If you can figure out online banking, you can split up some chores.
  • Stephen Marche never looks at WHY there is such
    discord on the domestic front. Perhaps one major fucking culprit is that we
    route the genders toward a very different sense of what domestic pride looks
    like — inside for girls, outside for boys. Girls are given toys and time with
    mommy and helper errands that signify a place of belonging for them, a point of
    pride in a certain kind of upkeep, and that upkeep is domestic. We inherit an
    eye trained toward this presentation, and we are judged more harshly for it, so
    it’s more likely we’ll notice when the house isn’t clean if guests are coming
    over, because we’ve modeled someone doing that, and been talked to about it
    casually and otherwise our entire lives.
  • For boys, that investment is more likely to
    involve fixing, building, and outdoor work and activities. Take a look at the
    differences between Girl
    Scouts and Boy Scouts manuals
    and you have as easy an answer as you could
    dream up for the differences we perpetuate.
  • So long as we do this, we will always have men
    who don’t seem to “care” as much about the organizing of the
    cupboard, the woman who “just seems to notice sooner” that something
    is messy and is, furthermore, more compelled to do it. And if we choose to
    ignore our own part in this, it might be easier to throw your hands up and
    leave the dust to settle (to your wife).
  • Instead,
    Marche insists that he is right, that Simone de Beauvoir is wrong. And “Millions
    of young women are deeply attracted to the gloomy vice of domestic labor.”

His bright idea is that if everyone cares less and just lets things be messy, everyone wins. But no, see, then you and your children are hanging out in squalor. So. Nope. Apathy works temporarily, but in cases where people could care less, I’m guess they already do care less and are not your (or this) audience. For most of us, a clean house makes everyone feel good, and cared for, and better able to focus on all the other shit you have to do. This is something all family members want and need and we’ve reached a point where everyone is invested in this together and can take pride in this, not just Mommy and Little Suzie. Catch up already, Stephen Marche. Bus is leaving.

And look, sure, certainly some people enjoy cleaning, women among
them. Some of them have made empires and fortunes out of it, and more power to
them. But please. Women as a monolithic group are not deeply attracted
to the gloomy vice of labor, we’ve just made the best out of a shit thing we’ve
been saddled with. Some of us like it. Some of us are acting out years and
years and years of repetitive instruction along gendered lines so deep we can
barely reach them to vacuum out the cobwebs.

Likewise, Stephen Marche is acting out years and years of
not having to care as much in the first place about such menial tasks, and
wondering why on earth anyone thinks he should bother now, and very wrongheadedly attributing
it to something deeper and dirtier and impossible to clean, when in fact it just takes a man not being an asshole to own up to the fact that it’s time to unload the goddamn dishwasher. Nice copout to get
out of re-caulking the tub, though, bro. Be sure to pass that sweet tactic down to your

Image by Jim Cooke.

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