I am somewhat floored by the responses to my post suggesting that marriage is the primary unit of patriarchal currency. O me of little faith, I’d sort of expected a slew of matrimonial apologists to attack me with no small vim, but from a field of over 250 starters, only a few argue that marriage is anything but a hotbed of bogosity, and I think only one or two dudes tell the feminists to get a sense of humor.
Speaking of dudes: here’s a little test you can give yourself to see if you are qualified to interrupt the ladies with your unique male perspective:
1. Fill in the blank:
Remarks such as “Keep shaking things up. I don’t want to live in a world of sheep and I like being challenged when it comes to ideas and philosophy” are considered by radical feminist bloggers to be ____________.
2. True or false:
a. Feminists are likely to be unacquainted with the male point of view.
b. Feminists benefit from the balance offered by the male point of view.
But I digress.
A few glittering baubles of consensus caught my attention when reading the comments. For instance, most of the married blamers who responded — even those who described themselves as tolerably happily married to ‘good guys’ — said that they wouldn’t have done it if they’d known then what they know now. This was a self-selected sample, of course, but at least it doesn’t disprove my hypothesis, which is that marriage is a culture virus engineered specifically to indenture women in the service of male culture.
Also, blamers really don’t like doing housework. Amen to that, sister. Unsurprisingly, housework is only an issue when cohabitation is the domestic arrangement; people who live alone either do it or they don’t, but we are unlikely to consider it a feminist issue unless a more privileged entity stands to reap the benefits. Some women seem to consider that they have made a tolerable marriage because their Nigels do some or all of the housework. But, as blamer legallyblondeez counters, “doing the housework doesn’t magically erase his male privilege.” Housework, in other words, is a bit of a pink herring in the battle of the sexes, in that the fundamental power differential between oppressor and oppressed remains firmly in place regardless of who mops the floor.
Some women suggest that a marriage may be made tolerable with the introduction of a third party to muck out the filth. This bit of feudal reasoning, with its profoundly antifeminist essence, is problematic.
The implications of hiring a menial — always a woman — to perform low-status women’s drudgery suggest an unsophisticated grasp of feminist theory. Blamer Mearl agrees; I reproduce her eloquent remarks here to save me the trouble of having to paraphrase her exact argument.
[H]ere is where I quibble: “Our house cleaner, who is a woman, has a flexible schedule, gets paid well and seems to enjoy the ability to work unsupervised, while listening to music and watching TV.”
For fuck’s sake, does no one realise that there is zero integrity, no matter how you rationalise it, for paying someone else to clean up your garbage and dirty gitch? If every overprivileged feminist in the G8 countries did this in order to balance out our leisure time and work time and have happy feminist marriages, do you realise that you’re contributing to the increase of an already-existing and growing caste system with Untouchables at the bottom, and those Untouchables are doing the shit work of society, paid or not? Garbage men make 22$/hour where I live, benefits and pension and health care included (Canada here). Cleaning women get $7, and nothing else. They clean your bigger, better house to make money for kids they barely ever see. Many are poor or immigrants. Do you really want to contribute to a growing near-slave society in the interests of the patriarchal capitalism, on the pretense that you are leveling the playing field of marriage with your hubby?
Here is a snippet from Jan Wong’s “Maid for a Month” series from the Glob:
[Note: I selected this snippet, since Mearl provided only a link. --Twisty]
“On Feb. 1, Ontario’s minimum hourly wage rose to $7.75 from $7.45. For reasons that now escape me, I thought the best way to tell the story of that 30-cent raise was to work ‘and live’ at the bottom of the food chain. I would find a low-paying job, a low-rent apartment and, single-mom-like, take my boys with me for the month and see how we survived.
“Cool, what are we going to eat? KD?” said Sam, 12, who prizes Kraft Dinner because he’s sick of triple créme French brie. His brother, Ben, 15, was the embodiment of teen irony. “So I’ll have a urine-soaked mattress?” he said. “Is the floor going to be, like, concrete?”
Before I set out on this assignment, I assumed $7.75 an hour, at 40 hours a week, was a living wage. I began crunching numbers. My monthly pre-tax income would be $1,240, or $14,880 a year. To my horror, I realized I wouldn’t even reach halfway to the so-called “low-income cut-off line” of $31,126 set by Statistics Canada for an urban family of three.”
(Unfortunately, Wong learned nothing from her privilege except that she should “treat her own Jamaican housekeeper better and appreciate her more,” not that she should give up her dominant-class privilege, downsize, take the blow, and share the housework among herself, her husband, and her lousy little kids. I don’t know how to link the whole series, but it’s on the net somewhere. Please check it out.)
Make of this what you will, but I really don’t see why everyone can’t clean up their own fucking mess. That means men and women alike. There is no reason, aside from physical ableness, that everyone, male or female, can’t do whatever work is required to run a household or community. You transform “women’s work” into “shit work” and it just goes to a different level, to the women of poorer communities. That ain’t feminism. And don’t try to tell me that you’re giving someone a job. B.S., I say!
And so we see that marriage may be made palatable to women who view housework, rather than male privilege, as the primary agitator against equality in their relationships. To maintain the illusion that she can be married without simultaneously capitulating to the megatheocorporatocratic machine, the feminist wife cannot engage in stereotypical wifey-work behavior. Instead, she hires a surrogate drudge. Unfortunately, this merely demands that she oppress, in turn, women of a lower caste than herself, while doing nothing to address the power differential in her own relationship.
Just another pernicious little method — like the nuclear family’s dependence on cheap-crap-from-China — by which marriage perpetuates male dominant culture’s primacy.
As always, my answer to the question, “so, Twisty, what’s the solution?” is: revolution.