Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Housework and Sex: Gettin' You Some More or Role Reversal?

I know most of you guys think that you would do anything to get more sex. If you think about it every 8-10 seconds, then it stands to reason that you probably are not opposed to doing just about anything (lawfully of course) that it takes to get more of it. I wonder if there aren’t some prices that are too high to pay though. As I was reading this article on sex and housework, I began to think that just might be the case. As I walk you through this I want you to be the judge.

In her article entitled, Housework and sex: What's the connection?, Maureen Salamon records these words from a working mom:

"I am very turned on when he's doing housework," says the 36-year-old Camden, Delaware resident, a middle school teacher. "If there's a sink full of dirty dishes, he knows I'm going to take care of that before I want to get intimate. If he wasn't helping with the housework, I would not find that very attractive."

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that working mothers have a lot of pressures on them between work, mothering, driving the little tikes to their t-ball games, and finding a moment to squeeze in some personal time. Of course, given that, I believe any reasonable husband is going to figure out how to lighten the load for his wife out of love and gratitude. But, I cant help but sense there is something more here in this article when this working mom says she wouldn’t find it “very attractive” if her husband wasn’t doing some of the housework. Is this sound practical advice, or is this a ruse? Well, as you read the rest of the article, it doesn’t take long to find the real agenda: husbands doing more house work is not about getting more sex, its about giving women a sense of control over the man. In other words, it is about role reversal.

There are all kinds of anecdotes I could bring in from this story to prove my point, such as men being guilted into doing 7 hours of housework a week more than their 1976 counterparts, the fact that all but 1 of the “marriage experts” quoted in the story are women, and the fact that the mere presence of a “man” in the house creates 7 extra hours of work in the house called “emotional labor” consisting in, “tasks like writing holiday cards, scheduling doctor appointments and planning family gatherings” which usually falls to the woman. That last example is a real kicker for me; how can the mere presence of a man create 7 extra hours of work such as writing out holiday cards and setting doctor appointments? Are we supposed to believe that holiday cards would not have been sent out if men weren’t in the home? Or, would there be no doctor appointments to schedule if a man wasn’t hanging around the house and sawing his fingers off while cutting down an old tree in the back yard? This is ridiculous, and if that kind of work takes you 7 hours a week, you have got to be totally inefficient.

Anyway, the real clincher for me, that this story is not actually an article for men informing them how to get more sex from their wife by pulling out a bottle of windex and a squeegy and wiping the windows clean, is the story about Jennifer Armiger. Sister Jennifer is 33 years old and a full time Ph.D student who is disgruntled with her husband. Why is Jen so upset with her husband you ask? Is he out “trolling for chicks” while she is holding down 2 jobs and trying to get a degree? Is it because he is a deadbeat and wont work? Is he abusive and addicted to drugs, alcohol, or porn, you ask? The answer to those questions is no, no, and no. Our friend Jennifer is upset because she wants to work out with her husband but cant because he is working 15 hour days running a trucking company so she can stay at home with their 4 year old son and finish off her degree (oh yeah, and cook the lazy slob of a husband a meal for dinner and then clean up afterwords). By the way, she is also mad because he “walks right past a sink full of dishes.” To show her disgust with this kind of chauvanistic behavior, she switched to paper plates (that will show the ingrate!). Jennifer thinks this arrangement they have (him working like a dog to provide for his wife and family while she goes to school and takes care of their child) is sexist, and she would like it all to change. What she wants instead, is a more “egalitarian relationship” when she finishes her degree and gets a job teaching.

Have you heard enough yet? This article is not about helping you “get some,” its about redefining marriage roles, either in the direction of putting the woman in charge or putting the man and wife on an egalitarian footing, and leaving you high and dry (if you know what I mean). This is about telling the man he must hand his “jewels” over to the wife and she gets to store them away in her purse and only “loan” them back when its convenient for her. Guys, go read the article for yourself and see whether I have misrepresented it. As for me, I think this kind of a marital relationship is a recipe for disaster. Go ahead and reverse roles with your wife if it suits you, but I am warning you, if you do, extra sex with your wife is not in the future, but you can look forward to more nagging and a pair of dish pan hands.


JMS said...

Spot on article, again.

I also agree this is positing a subtle but real power play and sex is wielded as both carrot and stick: (hopes of sex VS no sex, just nag).

Furthermore sexual intimacy should flow out of mutual love, respect and relational intimacy and yes even marital duty. Sex should never result from some manipulative work-reward equation.

In fact the worlds oldest profession uses an eerily similar equation. Except the terms are upfront, with a clear medium of exchange and no nagging to boot. No wonder it has thrived for eons!

I just saw an ad on TV depicting the ideal husband: a sexy hunk, who joyfully ironed the laundry and washed out the toilet--all while shirtless of course--and was super considerate on the phone, thinking and planning for all the woman's needs. A perfect cross between a personal servant, social arm candy and dildo: truly an "empowered" woman's dream.

Lawrence said...

It's not that wives find it sexy, it's that wives find it empowering. And any follow-up sex then gives the same feeling of empowerement... for all the wrong reasons.

Nothing feeds a woman's sinfully misguided self-esteem more than feeling like she is compleletly in charge of everything and everyone around her. Of course, we can say the same thing about men who abuse their wives.

And guilt is a powerful emotional tool to use on men who normally don't function based solely on emotion.

John Sawtelle said...

You hit the nail on the head. Its not about sexy, its about control, and that is what this domestic egalitarianism is about. I am not advocating that the man be a total slob or never lift a finger around the house. What I perceived was, that this was not about sex, it was about control and role reversal. Sex comes in only after the fact as a reward for the guy being good and for acknowledging his new equal or inferior position.

Vanessa said...

Oh men, why does everything have to be about control? Is it possible that while the man is working all day, the wife is also working just as hard all day taking care of the kids? Perhaps, the author of the article was attempting to describe the feeling that is created when your partner does something to help you. It feels good when your spouse takes responsibility around the house and takes it upon himself to lighten his wife's "load." In the stereotypical relationship, the man works during the day for approximately 8 hours and then he is done. While the wife works from the minute she gets up until the minute she goes to bed, while sometimes taking some time for herself before she passes out from exhaustion. A man is not buying his wife as a full time slave when he is the dole provider. What he is doing, is ensuring that a parent is raising their children while he is away from the home. Most women would not be aroused from turning their husband into a doormat. However, it is a sign of respect, compassion and understanding when your spouse makes the effort to show his love by making your day easier. I, for one, want nothing more than to return the love right back to my husband in the best way I know how.

John Sawtelle said...

I believe I said that any reasonable man would do what it takes to make the load lighter for his wife when she multitasks at home and work.

I wonder if you would be willing to concede that any of the points I made about the article were correct. I mean, wouldn't you agree that this lady wrote the entire piece with vieled axe to grind?