Fighting Casual Sexism In Your Own House

Fighting Casual Sexism In Your Own House
Carly Jacobs

Being a feminist seems like a no brainer these days but it’s actually really fucking hard. If we’re going to achieve true equality, we need to lead by example and I screw it up every single day.

I wear makeup. I lie to myself and say it’s to make me feel good but if that was true (that makeup made people feel good) most men would wear it too and they don’t. I wear it because it makes me look fresh and pretty and people say nice things to me and THAT makes me feel good. I’m also starting to get congratulated on ‘ageing well’. Which I obviously love hearing but no one says it to my male partner, because his youth isn’t praised and coveted like my female youth is. I’ve been raised to believe that that my looks are my most precious commodity and I’m yet to be proven wrong. It’s a very scary thought for someone who’s not getting any younger.

I cook most of our household meals because I watch my weight. My partner would be more than happy to halve our cooking responsibilities but it’s just easier for me to do it because my eating habits are varied and complicated. He eats whatever I eat and it doesn’t matter because he has a lightning fast dude metabolism that keeps him super svelte no matter what he eats. I spend at least an hour a day at the gym and he goes for two runs a week to ‘clear his head’. I do most of the shopping because I do most of the cooking and that’s more of my time I’m using to maintain a societal expectation of what my body should look like. I like being healthy and I like feeling fit but sometimes I wonder if I would care as much if I lived on a deserted island where no one ever saw me. I suspect I wouldn’t. I just sometimes look at my life compared to my partner’s and I spend about 10 times what he does on body maintenance (in time and money) and it just seems so deeply unfair.

casual sexism

The double standards are exhausting enough without me adding to them. There’s no such thing as perfect feminist (you’ll never take my hairspray!) but it’s really important to constantly monitor and question our own behaviour.

Here are a few things I’m trying to do more of to fight casual sexism in my own house….

1. Care less about removing my body hair 

I’m not a particularly hairy lass but I’ve spent a good portion of my life/disposable income removing my body hair. I want to not care but unfortunately, I do. However I have become far more relaxed about it and after a few years of laser treatments I have soft, peachy fuzz under my arms that I remove every few months when I could be bothered. If someone cops a look at my hairy underarms in between these times, I don’t a give a shit. I don’t owe anyone smooth arm pits. This is also completely anecdotal but I spend at least a few thousand dollars per year more on my appearance than Mr Smaggle does. Not only do I (sometimes) earn less because of the pesky pay gap, but I’m expected to use my 79 cents to his dollar on face paint, body tint, fillers, highlights, creams, lotions and treatments. No wonder women end up with far less money than men do in retirement.

2. Sell cars 

I recently sold my car and when I say that I mean Mr Smaggle sold it. He fixed it up, put the ad on Gumtree, arranged for people to come and look at it and shook hands on the final deal. It wasn’t until the car was sold that I realised I really should have done that myself but the reason why I didn’t was that I’ve never actually seen a woman sell a car before, so my brain just defaulted to that being a man job. My dad sold all our family cars. My partner’s dad sold their family cars. I’ve been raised in a world where women don’t know enough to sell cars which is absolutely bollocks. I drove the damn thing for 10 years. I’m the most qualified person in the world to sell it. Next time, I’m selling my own bloody car.

casual sexism

3. Make the men organise the food 

To be fair, my partner is a feminist and so are most of our mates so my household and the ones I spend most of my time in have pretty even splits of chores. There’s one thing that constantly bothers me though and it’s that the women take charge of the food and social organisation, almost exclusively. Men will often cook and prepare food but usually at the request of a leading female. Every picnic or dinner party I’ve been to has been meticulously organised by women, down to the last detail. Just once I’d like to go out for dinner where a woman didn’t pick the restaurant, make the booking, cook the food or text message the other female attendee for an entire afternoon to make sure we don’t end up with two desserts and no salad.

4. Fix stuff on my own 

Honestly, I’m not too shabby at this. I’m handy with a drill, I can change all the lightbulbs and I’m a master at spider removal but I have to keep working on it and adding more things to my repertoire. Like changing tires on a car. I CAN do this and I have done this but I have mental issues with it because I don’t think just anyone should be able to change a tire. I feel like I need a qualification or something. Must get over that. It’s not a thought that men have.

casual sexism

5. Not praise men for doing really basic shit 

Most of my friends have kids now and their husbands are all ace but it shits me that I even notice this. Men should never be praised for doing something women do all the time. Like change nappies, cook dinner, take kids to the supermarket or look after kids on the weekend while the other parent is away, yet I watch my male mates do this in their homes and I notice it. I will never say anything to them but I’m trying to be less impressed by this.

This week, Kelly and I are talking about the hidden load at home… it’s a doozy of an episode and brings up some stuff we should all be thinking about.

Also I’d love to hear from any same sex couples how the split of chores works. I try really hard to not be heterosexual-normative on Smaggle, when I write about relationships, I never assume I’m writing for opposite-sex couples but this was much harder to write about in an inclusive way.

So tell me… what’s the chore split like in your house? And are you happy with it?

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14 Comments

  1. Missy D 3 weeks ago

    Urgh, yes to your comment about having a partner who never puts on weight. I have one of those -rolls eyes-.

    I do most of the cooking, but I really love cooking (I come from a Mediterranean family and my partner is happy with meat and veg every day – boring). I do have a lot of friends who’s husbands/male partners do the cooking though because they love it. I don’t really see this as a man v woman thing, more just who loves to do it more.

    I’m also the gardener in our relationship, my partner is not so much. We both know how to do car stuff (I was raised by a father who was in the car industry and taught me these things when I got my first car). We both sell our own cars. He’s the spider killer (I’m deathly afraid of them).

    I have many male friends who arrange the restaurants and organise picnic/bbq foods, do washing etc. I probably do more around the house, but it also probably bothers me more than my partner and I tend to just plot around a lot. My partner gets upset if he feels I’m doing more than him sometimes, but honestly I’m just pottering. What bothers me the most about it is that I often feel like I’m the one who actually notices when things need to get done. ‘Can’t you just look around and see?’

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 2 weeks ago

      My partner enjoys cooking but doesn’t do it nearly as often as me because of all my dietary requirements. I know in most households where both people hate cooking, the responsibility often falls to the woman. To be fair, Mr Smaggle is more bother by mess than I am but we both have pretty high standards.

  2. Katy Hunt 3 weeks ago

    Im now single and children grown ,so now do all housework ? once the ex moved out i realised how much he did do, for example, sweep verandah, while i gardened .
    I dont wear makeup everyday, as i end up wiping ot over face.
    I do colour my hair, its one way to give my face colour.
    I do shave and wax
    I try not to encourage stereotypes, but my sons are “very male ” lol

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 2 weeks ago

      I have the same thing when Mr Smaggle goes away. I’m like ‘Why is the rubbish bin so full? And why doesn’t the dishwasher stack itself?’

  3. Vilma 3 weeks ago

    I can relate to most of this, except the organising of social activities – my husband pretty much always does this, including food if it’s at our place or choosing and picking restaurants. Chores are an even split, or even more loaded on hubby as he is super anal and cleaner than me and now I’m pregnant so a little more useless… He’s also stepped it up with our 1 year old and will now do as much for him as I do (cooking aside, I do all the cooking). I consciously never say how ‘lucky’ I am to have him, as you say it shouldn’t be impressive that men contribute to the household. I put it down to smart choice of life partner 😉

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 2 weeks ago

      Yes! I constantly get told how ‘lucky’ I am to have Mr Smaggle, and I am! He’s a very evolved, wonderful, supportive partner but then so am I. It’s so weird how women are expected to be the kind, loving ones in relationships and are never rewarded for it but when a man does it, it’s celebration city. And if a woman is a lazy, distant and disrespectful partner it’s just not on and that’s something so many men get away with.

  4. Joy Toose 3 weeks ago

    These are SO GOOD Carly!

    My house is pretty good too, and Lach is actually the social organiser in our couple. But when it comes to fixing stuff, I always leave it to him. We both started cycling at around the same time, 6 years ago, but Lach can now take a bike apart and put it back together again and I can’t even change a tire. Thinking about it, it’s so stupid. When we got together, I was the handy one – my Dad was a handyman and taught me loads handy things, but somehow 11 yrs down the track I can’t change the tire on my own bike. I needed this post, thanks! X

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 2 weeks ago

      Lach is a very evolved man, I would assume your house would be pretty ace. I’m the same my dad’s a plumber, I know how to do all the things and I trained as jeweller for gods sake but whenever something needs drilling I’m like ‘Beeeeeeennnn!!!’ – it has to stop. Bad feminist.

  5. Kelly 3 weeks ago

    Very interesting topic – I have to say I immediately thought – no my household is not sexist. Then I read on and was quite confronted by it. After thinking on it for a bit, yes we have some stereotypical roles. A couple of examples – I cook because if I didn’t we would have crumbed chicken (in some variety) or sausages every night. And my father has purchased every single car I have ever owned – he likes doing it and being I want to punch every car salesperson I have met in the face, it works out well. These are choices I have made to make my life the way it is and the way I want it. I am lucky I am able to do that, there are many people who have not been in that position historically or even now. I know many men who couldn’t change a tyre if their life depended on it or other “male jobs” so I imagine there is pressure that way too.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 2 weeks ago

      It’s quite uncomfortable to turn the microscope on yourself which is why I did to myself and publicly. If I’m going to be a card carrying feminist (which I am!) I need to really walk the walk and not just say floaty things and hope they stick. Acknowledging the privilege of being able to make those choices is key though. 🙂

  6. Michaela 3 weeks ago

    My household is definitely sexist and this is something I struggle with a lot – I often ask my partner to help out and pull his own weight around the house, but he’ll just placate me by saying he’ll get around to it or finding some excuse for why he can’t, and then when I bring it up again I’m a “nag” – I don’t want to be his mother, I want him to help out around the house that HE FUCKING LIVES IN. It’s bad enough that I pay pretty much all the bills, why can’t he do a damn load of laundry once in awhile or maybe do the dishes if he notices them piling up?

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 2 weeks ago

      I’d struggle with that a lot too. I don’t know if this is something you’ve tried but if I have an issue with something Mr Smaggle does (which thankfully isn’t a lot) I always broach it when we’re both calm and haven’t recently had a fight about that thing. I hope that helps a little. x

  7. Kathryn OHalloran 3 weeks ago

    A few years ago my mum came to visit and we had a big dinner. I asked my male housemate to join us. Later, while we were out, he did the dishes and my mum made such a fuss about what a wonderful guy he was. Not only did that seem really sexist to me but also very patronising to him.

    I’ve always bought and sold my own cars. I don’t even think I’ve considered asking a guy to do it for me. I used to take my mum sometimes because she was a gun at negotiations.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 2 weeks ago

      Oh totally! All the women in my family shit themselves if one of the younger generation’s partners takes a damn dish to the sink. And you know what? They ALL do it because they weren’t raised to be douche bags. That’s why we’re with them. Der!

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