Meet the Girls That Don't Vacuum (and the Men Who Do)
DESPITE a recent European study that declared that women regard housework as a “marker of their femininity”, while men consider their prerogative to do as few household chores as possible a key component of their masculinity – a sentiment echoed in the new much-buzzed book, The Unmade Bed by Stephen Marche – (who believes the only answer is to live in squalor), we at Vogue have our men happily (and equally) domesticated.
Lisa Niven, beauty editor
“It’s a good thing that my boyfriend doesn’t see housework as my ‘job’, because he’d be living in a very untidy house. Fortunately we both have a similar tolerance level when it comes to messiness, so basically we just do things when we can’t ignore any longer that they need doing. He always cleans the bathroom and does the hoovering, simply because he’s better at those tasks (more thorough), whilst I tend to do more of the general tidying because of my perfectionist tendencies and the fact that I have the patience to spend an hour moving candles and plants back and forth on shelves until they reach perfect alignment. I’ll do the lion’s share of the laundry because I don’t trust him to properly take care of my cashmere – though to his credit he’s on full pest-attack mode when moths come anywhere near to my wardrobe – whilst we split tasks like changing the sheets (two-person job), wiping down kitchen surfaces and watering the plants. The only thing that causes any kind of friction is the washing up. I’m thorough but slow, he’s quick but a little careless – each finds the other’s method indescribably annoying. The solution? A dishwasher.”
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Life’s Too Short
Lauren Milligan, news editor
“Before I portray my husband as a victim of domestic servitude, I should clarify there are some things I do around the house. Putting a load into the washing machine or hanging up the resultant wet basket of (mostly my children’s) clothing, I’m absolutely alright with. I don’t do bins, or dishes, but I will tidy things left around the floor into their proper place just all day long. He cooks, we both clean, absolutely nobody dusts. All in all, I’d say we have a fairly equal division of labour in terms of household chores, with him picking up maybe just ever so slightly more – thanks to me generally taking on the lion’s share of homework and other boring school admin. This may seem like perfect relationship synergy, but I caution, it is hard won. We embarked on the customary power struggle in our early relationship years – not just about housework but about absolutely everything in life – and in this, as in (almost) all other things, we found a middle ground. My mother, despite working full time, did 100 per cent of the housework during my childhood, as my father couldn’t (or wouldn’t) complete the chores to her satisfaction. I decided very early on that I would not be anyone’s housekeeper, and nor would I set my home standards so high that I missed out on the bike rides and muddy walks that my mother often skipped to clean the oven. So, my house is probably not as clean as hers, but I’m infinitely happier and my partnership with my husband feels equal in all areas (except maybe hoovering – where he reigns supreme).”
Skillful But Sickened
Fiona Golfar, editor-at-large
“I was very well trained. My father thought it was crucial that I know how to do the housework. I would spend weekends being given master classes by him in hoovering and how to make immaculate hospital corners on the beds. I can polish anything – silver, creaky mahogany furniture and I know that the best way to clean a window is with newspaper. My two brothers never had to lift a finger and interestingly my mother had no part in this rigorous basilica training. She loved cooking, that was her role. I laid the table for Sunday lunches and did the washing up; I learned to iron (there is no such thing as too much starch in my book). I made my parents their breakfast and when my father came home from the office I had snacks ready. Then I left home. And I did anything and everything to avoid homely chores again. And certainly never let on to anyone how well-trained I was. I built up piles around the house. My daughter, I could beat her with a stick and she would not lift a finger (she just skyped from Chile to ask me how to use a washing machine), yet my son is innately tidy and happy to help around the house. I watch my lovely husband do the washing up after I have cooked dinner with no qualms. I’ve done my time. And happily he finds tidying is his path to mental order.”