I recently met a very nice chap. He clearly indicated his effusive interest and has showered me with delightful compliments. Lovely jubbly, as Jamie would say.
Now I knew that this complimentary chappy and I weren’t exactly soul-mates, but I did think we could maybe rub along together delightfully for a while.
And then the disintegration began.
He popped in to visit me the other night. Coffee was drunk. Pleasant, if not overly engaging conversation was had. I was about to cook dinner, so I offered to make him some. I’m not talking bangers and mash, or spag bol. I was doing a rather nice dish of Jamie’s (see “lovely jubbly” above). I was expecting some admiration of my culinary prowess. Instead I got small comments about my cleanliness. Comments which may seem inconsequential to the untrained ear; but to a veteran like me are big, red flags.
I still find it extraordinary that ANYONE thinks it’s OK to come into someone else’s house, as a guest, and make judgments on the way they run their home. Add to that, that this someone is (one would think) trying to woo me, and I am left using one of my favourite words: gobsmacked.
There is a pathological mentality that some men have, that the minute they decide they fancy you, they have certain rights, such as the right to correct you/judge you/criticize you. And it inevitably starts in the domestic arena. They open the batting with small criticisms; I then come bowling in from the grandstand end with defensiveness. It ends in an all-out brawl on the pitch.
In my humble opinion, housewifery-shaming is as toxic and sexist as slut-shaming. It’s a way of putting us in our place. When women do it to other women, I think it is quite conscious. It’s a deliberate act of bitchiness. But when the men in our lives do it, it is more unconscious, insidious and psychologically telling. This shit almost never comes from a confident man with a healthy sense of self. It comes from the man who is slightly star-struck; the one who says things like “you’re amazing” or “I’ve never met anyone like you”; the man who is threatened by the very characteristics that he finds so attractive.
So nek minnit…he’s commenting on the state of your kitchen floor, or pointedly getting up to clean the already clean glass you just gave him. What he is trying to do, although he may not even recognize it himself, is under-mine. He is cutting you down to size, in his own mind. You may have two degrees to his zero, but your wine glasses are smudgy.
I am dog-tired of justifying my non-pristine house. I cannot recall the last time I ever walked into a pristine house. Actually, I CAN recall…it was a man’s. He was super-weird and sexually off and psychologically in need of help. So hurrah for his squeaky-clean kitchen with the quilted cover over the toaster (I’m not making this up), but I’m outta there!
It’s not even about the housewifery. If I did have a pristine house, they would find something else to pick at: the way I dress; the way I drive; my consistent use of unladylike language. They always go for some arena which seems trivial, so that if they are called out on it, they can start the minimizing and the gas-lighting. “Oh for god’s sake, I only said you change into second too quickly. Don’t be so sensitive.”
Well, sonny-Jim, I’m not sensitive. I’m old and toughened and wizened. I’ve been here before. I know where it ends.
You think my kitchen floor is less than perfect? Grab a fucking mop. I’ve got poetry to write.