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Dec 31 2005

Study of the Week: Me Time, You Jane


When was the last time you had a big steamin' bowl of clam stew with tasso and fennel? Well that's too long.

Are you sitting down? Because here’s a shocker:

Britain is a nation of Homer Simpsons. The stereotypical image of the indolent husband, reclining on the sofa, beer in hand, while his wife copes with children and work has been confirmed by a new study revealing that men have twice as much ‘me time’ as women.”

“Me time” sounds like what Tarzan would say to Jane when she explains she’d really rather go to sleep, but it actually refers to an uninterrupted interval during which an adult individual exercises absolute sovereignty over her own mind and person. It is also a chimera.

Women, according to today’s study, get only 3 hours of “me time” a day. When I read this stunning figure I immediately calculated the amount of “me time” I get. It amounts to about 33 hours a day. I could maybe subsist on as little as 25.4 me-time hours a day, but that would really be pushing it. So the idea that women are out there me-timing at a scant one-eighth the required minimum rate, and feeling guilty about it to boot, brings tears of sympathetic madness to my eyes.

The nuclear family, which places the burden of incessant grunt work exclusively on a lone woman who has been stripped of absolute personal sovereignty, is a warped, artificial, and deeply misogynist structure.

Happy new year.

47 comments

  1. Alex

    The study mentions all the time women spend caring for children, but it forgot to include all the “me time” that’s usurped from women who take care of their spouses. Once I overheard my father-in-law asking my m-i-l to fix grilled cheese sandwiches, and when she told him to make the sandwiches himself, he admitted that he didn’t know how. The man has a PhD and can’t fix a fucking grilled cheese? I wonder how much time married women spend each week performing tedious hand tasks for their husbands who “don’t know how.”

  2. Liz

    Three hours a day??? Like hell. To a woman with, say, two toddlers and an infant, 30 seconds alone in the bathroom, the door closed and locked, nobody screaming or pounding or bleeding to death on the other side would be right up their with winning the lottery or suddenly inheriting a villa in the south of France. Nice fantasy, but fat fucking chance.

    A man with two toddlers and a an infant may or may not know what I’m talking about. Probably not.

  3. Steph

    Three hours!? That sounds like a luxury. For me that would include time in the shower and time spent commuting. Hell with sleeping I might get 7 hours of me-time a day.

    Really this is the one thing I think the feminist movement forgot. Sure I can get a PhD and work outside the home and be all “liberated” but I still wash toilets and wipe kids’ bums and make lunches. I have a pretty good partner, but he ain’t all that great at seeing his patriarchal me-time privileges.

  4. Alex

    I have a pretty good partner, but he ain’t all that great at seeing his patriarchal me-time privileges.

    You can make him great at seeing his me-time privileges ;)

  5. kabbage

    Many, many years ago I dated a man with a foot fetish. I don’t have a foot fetish, nor a fetish/tolerance/interest for men with such. He felt it would be appropriate for me to “pleasure him” for an hour a day with my feet, preferably in the high heels I dislike and never wear. I pointed out that with my schedule, that amounted to one third of my free time being taken up by an activity I found boring and/or distasteful and/or extremely irritating (and so not-sexy). He never could understand why I was so “mean” about it. I never could understand how he could be so stupid.

  6. StealthBadger

    An hour a day??? Heh.

    If it wasn’t something that you didn’t find enjoyment in, you could have always turned it around (which just ain’t always an option, but is an amusing thought).

    “You want to be worthy to suffer under My feet, worm? Once a week, no more, for as long as it pleases Me not you; and if you argue, I will never discuss the subject again. The kitchen must be spotless each night before we go to bed, the laundry must be done, folded, and put away by ten o’clock each Saturday morning, each bathroom in our house must be scrubbed spotless each Sunday by noon, the yard must be neat and well-maintaned at all times, and once every three months the cars must be taken in for an oil change and such. We’ll start with that.”

    “Lastly, if you come to Me and I find any of your things lying about the house, I will trample them, instead of you. Afterwards, you will take My shoes to be cleaned, and think about behaving better in the future.”

    Pointing out that spike heels aren’t allowed work attire for flight attendents because someone weighing as little as 90 pounds can dent the aluminum floor of an aircraft just by a shift in weight, this is not an idle threat. :D

    However, I suspect you’re more interested in a living with a complete human being than a serving-boy who wants a substitute mommy, and he sounds more like an adolescent than a submissive. Admitting that desire the first time prolly took a lot of courage, but harping on it after you said “no, it’s something that goes way high on my ‘things that fall between appearing on Jerry Springer and being horse-whipped on my not-to-do list,’ and I don’t have enough time even if I did like it” is just plain stupid. Wheedling and bitching are two of the many just-plain-wrong ways to try and convince someone to do something that makes you feel good.

    And Happy New Year, Twisty!

  7. kelleyBell

    So, if the men “dont get it” this implies that the women do, and therefore that there is something in our DNA that compells us fems to fix grille cheese and wipe bums. (Making Mother Teressa the one woman on the planet who fully embraced her true nature and took the concept to a higher level)

    I mean, are we different from the boys in this way? is there a drive that we have and they dont, and drives that they have and we dont?

    If so, then what is the ideal? What sort of society do we really want?

    I dont know the answer, Im fishin for ideas here.

  8. manxome

    I suspect, though, that at least 2 of those me-man hours a day are spent stinking up the bathroom.

  9. zuzu

    You know, I sometimes feel lonely and think that I’d like to have a man. Then I read things like this and thank my lucky stars I’m single.

  10. Twisty

    I adamantly refute the notion that it is women’s biological destiny to immerse ourselves in drudgery while men get shitfaced in bars.

  11. Amanda Marcotte

    The only reason women average 3 hours a day is because of women like me who basically have nothing but time for ourselves when we’re not working. We skew the averages.

  12. Alex

    Women aren’t hardwired to wipe bums and scrub toilets. Put the John Gray aside. We’re trained from an early age that the most important day of our lives is our wedding, that the greatest thing we can accomplish is having children (and if we don’t have children we aren’t “real women”), and that we’re destined to care for others for the rest of our lives. This isn’t science; explanations like this only naturalise and legitimise patriarchy. Women “get it” because men aren’t normally the ones doing it, since society tells us it’s women’s work. If women are driven to fulfill their gender roles, it’s because society has drilled it into their heads from a very early age.

  13. CafeSiren

    A good point, Amanda. So, between our 7 hours of waking “me-time,” and Twisty’s 25.6 hours… goodness, I fear that that this puts many other women into negative hours!

  14. Ms Kate

    I got my egalitarian-minded but patriarchally-priveleged partner to own up to the time difference by accomodating that all-too-male preference known as “turning it into a number”.

    I was home all but 10 hours a week doing kids and house. Both kids in diapers, one was an infant and one crawling around mouthing everything and both still nursing. DH was training for a century bike ride, while working 50 hours a week. I started to get upset, but then I decided to add it up publically.

    If he bike commuted, that didn’t count as “me time”. Likewise, doing a house chore but not watching kids didn’t count either. It had to be leisure time without household, work, or caregiving duties attached. If he took off for five hours, I logged it. If I took off for a couple of hours, I logged that. It was a great way to make sure he didn’t piss around and waste time and then say “I was only gone for x hours” when he’d been futzing around for two or three before he left. It made me feel good because I knew I was OWED and OWED big time. By the end of the summer, I grabbed a bike pump and a breast pump and vanished for two whole days!

    Even the most fair minded guy can be gender programmed into blindness. Laying it out like this made it clear, fair, and non-contentious.

  15. Ms Kate

    I wasn’t raised to think that buttwiping was my destiny and marriage my pentultimate fate, but I do think that women are programmed to NOTICE that a kid needs a diaper and that something in the house needs attention. Men are priveleged in their oblivion, and raised to not be so tuned in to the needs of others.

  16. Ms Kate

    Oh, yeah, three hours a day or three hours a week?

    My husband doesn’t get three hours a day either.

    Twisty, you must be a hyperspatial timefolding genius if you get 25+ me hours a DAY, when the typical earth day is around 24 hours! Incredible! What planet are you on?

  17. greymatters

    Love, love, looooooove your blog, Twisty.

    From,
    A former BBH co-worker

  18. curiousgyrl

    Bitch PHD has a couple of really nice posts on this topic….which I can’t find now

  19. mythago

    He’s not all that great if, after you have gently pointed it out to him, he still has “problems” seeing his me-time privileges.

  20. mythago

    Women are programmed (that is, taught) that housework and kid needs are their problem. It’s amazing how many dirty diapers and scungy bathroom floors one can ignore when one (that is, the man) knows that somebody else (that is, the woman) will eventually deal with the problem.

    I grew up with a maid. You’d be amazed at the terror my male SOs faced when they realized that whether it was genetic or learned, whatever it is that women supposedly have that makes them notice and care about dirt, I didn’t have it.

  21. Jake

    Amanda Marcotte, you have no life. Playing on the computer on your stupid blog all day isn’t working either.

    Also, why do y’all hate men so much here? If your lives are so damned awful, why don’t you just off yourselves and quit your bitching?

  22. amaz0n

    Not wanting to wipe men’s asses for them = hating men?

    I never knew. Today we have all been educated.

  23. Chris Clarke

    Another trembling, femiphobic 13-year-old heard from.

  24. ae

    Damn, I want some of those clams. Twisty, we make a summer pasta variation on this theme w/ clams, mussels, and whatever veggies we gather from the garden, fennel figuring largely in the making. It’s phenomenal, and I wish I had some right now. It has definitely been too long.

    My life works, to the extent that it does, because my partner and I have v. different sleep schedules. He’s in bed early, up early. I’m in bed late, up late (well, late-ish). I am naturally nocturnally inclined, but this schedule has another purpose, which is to afford me my me-time, which is not a matter of compromise. Of course, I’m at a slight disadvantage (though chosen freely), because I go to bed so late and still have to be at work in the morning hours. But it’s a price I’m willing to pay, because this is What I Need to Live.

    Our respective hours of me-time are taken up in part w/ household maintenance and minutiae, but this is what we have to do to live comfortably together. Any man practicing the “Huh? What dirty diaper/bathroom/kitchen floor?” routine is an asshole pure and simple. You’re either in it together (to whatever satisfactory degree you negotiate that togetherness and contribution), or someone’s got a handmaiden. No excuses.

    Happy New Year, Twisty! All good wishes for you in the coming year. A votre sante. xoxo

    P.S. Great post title.

  25. Alex

    Wow, you make a very good point.

    That’s what I would have said if you hadn’t succeeded in sounding like a miserable douchebag. Way to go.

  26. emjay

    Where can I get an application for more hours in my day? I want 25.6 like Twisty.

  27. Heo Cwaeth

    The standard argument I have for people who posit the theory that women are somehow naturally more able to notice a dirty house/car/child is a simple one: Ever met a military man? How do you think the standard-issue commanding officer would react to being told that a guy can’t keep himself and his things neat because of his y-chromosome? My brother is an ex-marine, and let me tell you, he is a far better housekeeper than I shall ever be. Men who “can’t handle” general chores are that way because they were never taught to handle them, or they simply think that they can get away with out-waiting the woman in the house.

  28. Chameleon

    I thoroughly recommend Susan Maushart’s Wifework, which deals with exactly the same topic and is very illuminating, blowing many myths out of the water :)

  29. Teenagecatgirl

    I live with one, you are lucky. So, so lucky!

  30. Twisty

    The Planet Obstreperon.

  31. Liz

    Oh those silly men!

  32. Twisty

    This hideous comic strip illustrates perfectly why marriage is a chump’s game.

  33. kabbage

    My sister retired from the Marine Corps after 20 years. She is not a neat and tidy person. Much to my mother’s chagrin, only 1 of her 4 daughters (and I’m not the one) got the clean gene. My brothers are neater/cleaner, but I am not sure if they or their wives are responsible.

  34. Flamethorn

    FBorFW: the anti-twisty.

  35. Emma Goldman

    I lived alone for about 20 years, so doing without me-time–or reducing it significantly while the partner got to keep his–was not an option. And because the kid is his, giving up me-time for the Kid is at my discretion (the Kid doesn’t live with us full-time). I’d say housework is divided 53-47 or so; we’ve split up the chores into two “piles” and do them together every other week, switching piles each time. We each do our own laundry. I’d say he’s a little messier than I am, but only a little, and I’m more than capable of walking past his mess. When the Kid is here, he helps with the chores, and so (at the age of 8) is learning to do them. Oddly enough, the kid seems to like to be involved in the life of the household. I probably do most of the cooking when we’re all eating together, and the rule is whoever cooks, everyone else cleans, but he’s pretty adept at feeding himself, too. I think the biggest problems arise because (a) he has a lot of stuff (including musical instruments that can’t be shrunk somehow), (b) he’s used to living in a house, and (c) we live in a smallish (but by no means tiny) apartment. All in all, I’d give it about an 8.5 to a 9.0

  36. Emma Goldman

    Umm, that’s an 8-year-old kid, not the age of smiling faces with sunglasses.

  37. Heo Cwaeth

    Interesting that Jake thinks that hating men, as he perceives any complaint about patriarchy, is a reason for women to off themselves. Not quite logical, that.

  38. belledame222

    I need me my me time. Too much busy and too many demands without any breathing space make me crazy. Between the Protestant-work-ethic-on-speed informing the current culture and the additional pressure for women to put others first, always…egh, no. Can’t deal. Wish I didn’t have to.

    There is, sadly, a lesbian and/or feminist-activist variation of the “I must put others before myself” meme most women raised in this culture get drilled into us. I am thinking specifically of collectives I belonged to. Too many women who could quote chapter and verse on all the sociopolitical issues of the day and yet never met a task force or fair-weather friend in need of a favor they could turn down, even at expense of their own health. I think a lot of that has to do with the other thing we’re all raised with, to wit, “I must not get angry, and conflict is bad.” So in that context, political/external anger was O.K., but hardly anyone seemed able to confront each other about personal shit, at least not in a straightforward, constructive way.

  39. belledame222

    …heh, I wrote that before I looked at the FBofW strip, but that’s really perfect. “Honey, I hate to criticize.” I just bet you do, you painted wussy.

  40. Ms Kate

    I assume that, in Jake’s tiny little world, “hating men” is defined as “expecting the male of the species to act like a mature, autonomous, adult who is respectful of the humanity and maturity and autonomy of women”.

    Sorry jake, but immature jerkoffs are immature jerkoffs and will be called as such in this space. ‘kay?

  41. mythago

    So true, Heo. I am lovin’ the mental image of the CO’s reaction.

  42. mythago

    Now, this makes no sense. If Twisty hates men, shouldn’t she be offing men, rather than herself?

  43. Ms Kate

    Cental theme here: Housework belongs to the woman. Men aren’t trained in it, and have to be supervised. Any housework that men do is 1)voluntary and 2)just helping the woman. Thus, any such “help”, even when both partners work equal hours in economic pursuits, is to be grandly appreciated and either carefully supervised/scruitinized or held to much lower standards even when it is done so badly as to be useless.

  44. kelleyBell

    So, basically it seems that this group feels that gender roles are 100% nurture / 0% nature, and that any form of cohabitation or cooperation betweeen a woman and a man is for chumps.

    Which still leaves the big question unasnwered…

    after all the bitching and blaming, if women get their way, what sort of world do we want?

  45. Syfr

    When I read this cartoon, I read it as a criticism of the fact that men don’t do laundry, and that Elise’s assumption that that’s her husband’s task is the way it should be. I also figured that she asked the way she did is because it’s easier to get most people to do things the way you want if you ask them nicely, than scream at them (at least, the first time you ask.)

    I find it interesting that we can look at the same cartoon, and reach different conclusions.

  46. sunny in texas

    ALOT of men don’t get, but not ALL men don’t get it.

    after being abandoned after almost 17 years by the sperm donor of my kids i figured it was ALL men too. so i almost settled for less. ALOT less.
    lucky for me, in the nick of time, i found a man who gets it. maybe being reared by a single mom was the key to his understanding, but whatever it is, there are a few who get it.

  47. belledame222

    O of course it was meant that way (more or less), Syfr, but she’s just so *nice.* There are ways in which to make requests without screaming *or* tripping all over yourself apologizing. “Hey, for future reference, I usually fold them this way, because ___. Thanks again!”

    …jesus fuck I can’t believe I’m processing a cartoon character now.

    I just hate the “nice girl” thing. It’s really fucking insidious. You can be kind and gracious without prefacing and couching and ducking and weaving for twenty minutes before you get to the damn point; it’s just that generally in this culture women aren’t supposed to do so, because “straightforward” reads too close for too many peoples’ comfort to “aggressive,” and we can’t have that.

    And of course you’re often not even *told* “you must soften up your approach in order to be more socially accepted” in so many words; that would be, too, you know, straightforward.

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