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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Vacuuming, The Road to an Enlightened Future

Betty Friedan’s original call to arms compared housework to animal life. In The Feminine Mystique she wrote, “[V]acuuming the living room floor -- with or without makeup -- is not work that takes enough thought or energy to challenge any woman’s full capacity. ... Down through the ages man has known that he was set apart from other animals by his mind’s power to have an idea, a vision, and shape the future to it ... when he discovers and creates and shapes a future different from his past, he is a man, a human being.”
I do not take assaults on vacuuming lightly. Although, Miss Friedan is no longer with us, her inferiority complex is still alive and well, and may well show up at your doorstep in the middle of the night to force you to get a job outside the home. Only then will you be fulfilled. You are just too stupid to realize it right now.

Vacuuming, it seems, is not challenging or intellectually stimulating to Miss Friedan. Women who vacuum are accepting their roles as oppressed, helpless ninnies. How does the quote from the "feminist" bible illustrate my assertion of this being a matter of an inferiority complex, rather than evidence of oppression of women?

Assume for example, that it is the repetitive nature of vacuuming that she objects to. However, pretty much every occupation, from the lowly janitor to the awe inspiring investment banker, has some degree of boring, repetitive tasks in their job description. Yet because these jobs are performed outside the home, they are somehow more worthy than repetitive tasks performed by women inside the home. (Yes, the investment banker has other responsibilities, but housewives don't vacuum 24/7 either, now do they?)

For some reason, mowing the lawn seems to be ok, despite the obvious similarities of pushing a noisy electrical device across a flat surface for the purpose of making said surface look better. I can't recall a mannabe ever complain about the oppressive qualities of lawn mowing. (As most of us know, lawn mowing is usually a man's job. )

Additionally, I would like to take issue with the statement that vacuuming is unworthy because it doesn't require much thought. It is precisely that reason that I love vacuuming! I do some of my best thinking when I vacuum. The idea for the Retro Housewife site was conceived and developed while removing dog hair from the living room floor with my trusty Dyson. Where else can you get such extended periods of uninterrupted thought? Phone rings? Don't hear it! Solicitor at the door? Can't hear that either! Other household members (including the dogs), hold off their requests and questions until you are finished. You are truly alone with your thoughts... if you actually have any thoughts, that is.

Maybe that was Miss Friedan's real problem?



Jessie said...

Her problem was that it makes a visible change in the environment to vacuum, even if the environment is as small as a house. Where as your job in the real world, unless youre in the medical science industry or something, makes no real dent. Vacuuming makes a dent, see?

Rootietoot said...

I think she was one of these thinkers who believed everyone should think exactly as she did, and she hated vacuuming. I wonder what her floors looked like. Tsk.

Coffee Wife said...

What?? You don't vacuum 24/7?? What kind of oppressed mindless housewife ARE you anyway? I bet you don't sit around the house letting your brain waste away either! Tsk Tsk!

I have always found that I'm happiest when my job has a balance of "mindless" work and work that makes me think. We aren't meant to be pushing our brains all day long! We're human, after all. Not Super Women!