24 March 2008

dish soap & what that does for (or against) my feminist status.

my friend, zerd recently wrote a post titled "Am I less of a feminist because I fold my husband's underwear?" Well, I don't think so. But it reminded me of some of my own feminist insecurities.

When Handsome Randy & I officially merged households I was intent that we would divide most household tasks such as laundry, cleaning & shopping fairly and equally. This was quite important to me as part of my personal feminism of sorts.

Well, we took turns doing laundry only once. I took a turn, then HR did. He doesn't hang dry delicates (T-Shirts & Carhartt's aren't all that delicate after all) and a few sweaters of mine were shrunk. So we agreed to each do our own laundry there after.

As for cleaning, we've got a pretty good system down. For example, we have an agreement that who ever is last out of bed is responsible for making it (this is followed in spurts - mostly I falter). And when we're expecting people over to our house I typically take to cleaning the kitchen & dining room and he takes the living room and bathroom. When everyone leaves he'll do the dishes because I've done the cooking. And as for day to day tidiness - we are equally messy and attempting in not being so; we have pretty good tolerance for each other's messes.

I feel pretty good about these arrangements. We both do.

But the shopping. This has been trickier for me.

I really disliked being the only one who thought to buy light bulbs or laundry detergent or dish soap. So, I would suggest HR making such purchases, "Hey, while you're buying turkey burgers we really need dish soap - please buy eco friendly." Said task would be accomplished as requested and Planet was the soap that was set by the sink. Good enough, but I secretly wanted my (fairly expensive) favorite, Mrs. Meyer's. I know, I know. This is being ridiculously picky, thus I never uttered a word. I took on the dish soap shopping with no complaints.

When HR & I moved in together we needed curtains for our bedroom. He was ambivalent, I was not. I really needed a color palatte for our bedroom and I wanted him to be an active participant in creating it, so I dragged him to Ikea with me to pick out curtains. We stood at the curtain display for probably a good 30 minutes discussing and compromising. A woman stopped us and said, "My husband and I have been together for 30 years and when it comes to shopping for home decor, I learned to leave him at home 29 years ago." We laughed, she walked away and HR said she was right. Needless to say while he had a hand in our bedroom curtains (since replaced) I figured out the sheets and bedspread and the color palatte they followed. We were both happy with this arrangement. This should have been precedent for all future shopping for anything that we needed and I felt more strongly than he did.

Recently such suit has been followed, but I kicked and screamed thinking all the while, "I hold a degree in Women's Studies for god's sake", as though a "real" feminist wouldn't allow only one person to be responsible to buy dish soap. I guess being the sole dish soap buyer somehow equated some sort of oppression within our relationship.

But really, who's being oppressed here? Me, because I am the one who buys dish soap the majority of the time, or HR because he doesn't have the opportunity to choose which brand of dish soap we use?

Neither of us is oppressed by one another. HR could care less what kind of dish soap we use, I couldn't care more. I am merely over thinking a task that is so benign in the big scheme of things that if anyone is oppressed, it's me at the hands of myself due to too much analyzing!

I am a picky, brand specific shopper. My loving and obliging partner in crime is more than willing to make household purchases if I request, but he does not share the need for basil scented counter top spray and soft but made from recycled paper toilet paper nor is he willing to foot the bill for such extravagances and I am.

I am no less feminist for running to the market with dish soap at the top of my list than I am more of a feminist because I hold a B.A. in Women's Studies.

more on this topic later. i promise.



  1. Oh Mrs Myers! And your lovely geranium scent and attractive bottle!

    I hear what you are saying, but I'm not sure that I agree that feminism has anything to do with it. I want things the way I want them. Having a preference for a certain kind of dish soap (and I do) doesn't make me less of a feminist. The fact that I get to make all of the home related decisions on my own is a privelage, I'd say, not a burden. I care, he doesn't. I'd HATE IT if I actually had to consult someone else, or even ARGUE about colors of bedspreads or whatever.

    I don't know where I'm going with this. I think it all comes down to how you feel. If you FEEL like it's not fair, than it isn't.

  2. no, feminism doesn't really have a lot to do with it. it's kind of the irony behind it. For a little while in my mind, purchasing the household needs (such as dishsoap) was me filling that gender role as I am expected to. This is what messed with me.

  3. In a way, I've always thought of feminists being able to say the things that I don't have to guts to talk about, so you're definitely a feminist to me.

    Matt and I have been married for nearly 7 years (eternity!) and I can't tell you how many times, to my disappointment, he's brought home "store brand crap". I do my best to not say anything, because the fact he went to the store is a big deal in and of itself! :) But there are things he knoooows not to skimp out on: milk, fruits/veggies, eggs, and a few other items. My mom always said "pick your battles" and I have to work really hard at that - what's worth arguing about and what I can let go.

    I love your idea about making the bed. I'm going to see if he likes that idea...

  4. I don't mind doing most of the shopping, because then I get my own way. And Kevin doesn't pick out good produce. And he impulse shops. As I like things my way, I like to do the shopping.

    I do, however, make him do lots of manly chores like re-wiring things, heavy lifting, and dirty yardwork. I joke that the reason I got married is so somebody else could put up the IKEA shelves.

    Without a women's studies degree :) I am insanely comfortable with this.

    But Kevin does do ALL the cooking. And last night when the girls were coming over, he said "What can I do to help you get ready?" Right after he spot cleaned the carpet (damn dogs) and vaccumed. He rocks.