Turner’s post, originally titled: Why are middle class men so useless.

5 Feb

This is the article to which my “die middle class men” post is responding.  It is available only by subscription, apparently.  Well, I subscribe, so here it is.


Note that the title was changed from “Why are middle class men so useless” to “Is a man doing sweaty stuff sexy? Hell, yes”.


Oh hello backpedaller.


Nice try.





Men haven’t been keeping their side of the bargain. They’ve ditched their power tools but still won’t pick up a duster

On my kitchen wall is a sign depicting a Fifties housewife in her floral  pinny. “I’m sorry,” she is saying to her pipe-and- cardie husband. “You’re  confusing me with the maid we don’t have.” I had great hopes for this sign.  I believed it would presage a new era of domestic equality. But alas it  seems easier to train a bonobo monkey to play Chopin than a human male to  pick up his own pants.

My sign evokes that Betty Friedan Feminine Mystique moment when suburban  housewives, in boredom and despair, realised that they wanted to be more  than unpaid drudges. They put down the laundry basket and slammed the front  door. Half a century on we are still struggling with the mixed consequences  of this banal yet revolutionary act: childcare crises; female economic  power; higher divorce rates; glorious, unprecedented opportunities for our  girls.

But the social upheaval is nothing compared with the muddle back home. Who  cleans the loo? Who empties the kitchen bin rather than squishing the  rubbish down so the damn bag splits? Men raised to happy expectations of  female service have to iron their own shirts. And while women now make up  half the workforce they still do double the chores and childcare of men.  Resentful, much? The war rages, house by house, bin-bag by bin-bag, with no  armistice in sight.

Little wonder we’re nostalgic for simpler times, when men were men and women  had no uppity ideas. An age with a division of labour so clear-cut it felt  like the natural order. Research this week by the University of Washington  suggests that marriages in which men do traditionally butch tasks — servicing cars, chopping wood, wielding power tools — but a grand total of  arse-all in the home, have more sex than those where partners share the  housework. That’s 1.6 extra shags a month, 0.4 more a week, a total of 19.2  additional couplings in a year. Moreover since conjugal frequency usually  correlates with female contentment, the academics concluded that not only do  women disdain sissy men in Marigolds, but doing all the housework makes us  happier.

This thunderbolt contradicts every other study yet conducted. These all come  down to the same equation: man cooks dinner (and tidies up) = clearly you  love me = let’s go upstairs. Indeed there is a series of successful American  books, Porn for Women, which show half-naked men engaged in “choreplay”, hoovering, cleaning the oven, etc: “hotter, hunkier and more helpful around  the house”. If a woman feels marriage is a series of thankless tasks, sex  too starts to feels like a duty.

But then every relationship, straight or gay, is a contract. (And my gay  friends don’t seem immune from housework rows.) An older couple I know used  to demarcate tasks as blue jobs and pink jobs. If, say, a toilet seat was  broken, she’d declare “blue job!” and he’d fix it. This worked because each  fulfilled the contract. If a woman is married to a DIY maestro who services  the car, grows veg, grouts the bathroom and sorts out that jammed cupboard  door the first time asked, maybe she’ll give him a free pass on cleaning the  kitchen floor.

As to whether men doing sweaty, manly stuff is attractive, well, hell yes!  That scene in Witness where Harrison Ford repairs the Amish folk’s car  totally raises my barn. Bruce Springsteen’s whole career is based on his  oily-overalled, just-fixed-your- rear-end, blue-collar heft. The male  forearm, sleeves rolled up for sprocket-tightening or somesuch, is an  underrated erogenous zone. Women are hardwired to fancy men accomplishing  physical challenges: it’s back to who’ll catch us the biggest wildebeest.

But fantasy is one thing. What a real-life Mrs Springsteen feels when her  Bruce dumps his greasy overalls on the bedroom floor and slumps on the sofa  with a brewski is another.

Besides, we live in an age when blue jobs are dying out. Cars have too many  complex electronics to be self-serviced. Domestic appliances are meant to be  chucked, not fixed. The basic maintenance skills our fathers had are being  lost: half of young people haven’t a clue how to hang wallpaper; only one in  six can bleed a radiator. Once able householders, many men behave like  tenants in their own homes.

Pink jobs, however, never die. That quote about the only certainties being  death and taxes always makes me sigh: Benjamin Franklin clearly never did  laundry. The well-off outsource pink work to cleaners, sidestepping rather  than solving the who-does-what rows. But the tedious domestic cycle of  shop-cook-clean never ends.

And now here we are, side by side in the kitchen, theoretically responsible  for the same tasks. One depressing survey in Norway showed that marriages in  which men did more housework were more likely to end in divorce. This was  caused by clashes between partners with varying standards of cleanliness.  Indeed, I’m yet to meet a couple who don’t argue about how to load the  dishwasher. “The plates are touching, that big pan needs soaking, oh please  shut up . . .”

Since the 1970s, the preferred battlefield for feminism has been the  workplace. But women will never win half of parliamentary seats or boardroom  places, or fulfil their potential in any field, until men shoulder half the  responsibilities at home. Scandinavian countries acknowledge this, granting  an extra month of parental leave only if taken by the father, ensuring he  learns to deal with nappies and bathtime while the mother works. But in  Britain similar schemes are seen as interfering with nature and tainted by  the support of Nick Clegg.

Besides, the political drama Borgen suggests that not all is perfect in the  domestic state of Denmark. In the first series every straight woman I know  was besotted with the Prime Minister’s husband, Philip. He’d taken a steady  teaching job to support her long-hours political ascent. Rugged, funny and  he picked up the kids. If Birgitte was too busy, ahem, we’d step in.

But then Philip decided being married to the PM made him less of man. He  whined about his career, had an affair, moved out. Boo-bloody-hoo. Support  her! Like every political wife in history! From hunk to hate figure in one  series. And, let this be a lesson, no woman will fancy him now, no matter  how many shelves he puts up.

6 Responses to “Turner’s post, originally titled: Why are middle class men so useless.”

  1. Lelouch February 5, 2013 at 03:43 #

    She’s mad she couldn’t land a husband rich enough to hire a maid.


  2. Kai February 5, 2013 at 08:22 #

    Even aside from any beliefs about men’s work and women’s work, and who’s working how many hours outside of the home, and any of that, if we took as a given that both partners could do housework, there’s a HUGE aspect women never seem to get.
    Women seem to believe that they get to decide how much housework needs to be done, and then assign 50% of it to the man.
    In fact, women end up doing the majority of the housework because they are the ones demanding the majority of the housework needs to be done.
    There are not a lot of men sitting around complaining that there’s a speck of dust on the mantle, and their shirt is insufficiently pressed. Most men have much lower standards. If a man did every single bit of housework he needed to have done to feel clean and happy, his wife would probably still need to do twice as much more to reach her own standard of clean and happy. As long as that standard exists (in most couples), women will do more housework, no matter what else they do.
    You don’t get to set the standard then expect someone else to meet it.


  3. pumpsix February 5, 2013 at 11:11 #

    Thankfully my old man does a lot of household maintenance and kicked my butt (not really) if I didn’t help. I have spent countless weekends digging ditches in the back yard, hooking electrical cable through the wall with a coat hanger and staring broken objects of all kinds trying to get them to work. I guess Janice married a Nancy-Boy who has lived with first world comforts all their life.


  4. zykos February 7, 2013 at 23:14 #

    It’s funny how she decides that blue jobs are going away because of technological progress, yet affirms that pink jobs haven’t changed. What? Feminism happened precisely because these pink jobs became easier and what was previously a full time job for women became a part-time one, leaving them time to feel unhaaaappy.

    The sewing machine. The vacuum cleaner. The dishwasher. The washer and dryer. The microwave oven, followed by pre-cooked or microwavable meals. Technological progress has undoubtably transformed pink jobs, arguably more so than blue jobs. It’s the wife’s expectations that have changed.


  5. JBfan August 19, 2013 at 20:56 #

    Yeah my hunch was right, she can’t write for shit. Most of this is whiny spoiled middle class “oh-I’m-hard-done-by-because-I-do-all-the-easy-jobs”, and then unwittingly makes a case against herself in that marriage is ruined by 50-50 sharing of the “pink jobs” she mentions. Silly bitch 😉


  6. JBfan January 14, 2014 at 13:53 #

    Turner is a hypocrite if she thinks it’s wrong for ‘Philip’ to jack it in when she and her ilk have repeatedly condoned it for women. ‘But that’s different!’ these idiotic men and women cry – to which I say ‘grow up and find yourselves the guts to practice what you preach.’


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