– my neighbour screamed
It was the 2nd of May, just last Monday.
I woke up slightly past 7am, still in time to witness the golden sun rays from sunrise. “Today will be a good morning”, I thought to myself as I got out of bed. After washing up and changing my clothes, I decided to head out for a morning walk in my neighbourhood. And then it happened…
From the HDB block opposite me, came an agitated scream:
“I’m not your maid!!”
I looked across and saw a lady furiously slammed the gate behind her as she stormed off. She was wearing formal office clothes and carrying a laptop bag. I’d boldly assume that she’s a working lady and was heading towards her office.
As I continued with my morning walk, my mind kept recalling that scene.
A week later, it was still etched in my mind. Perhaps because such situations have happened back in my home too…
A couple of weeks ago, my mum was mopping the floor area under the sofa. Upon seeing how much dust there was, she turned to my dad, who was idling, and said: “it’s so dirty, please help to mop the floor (in the living room) sometimes”. My dad nodded, so very slightly and nonchalantly. And then my mum said:
“There is no maid in the house. Don’t expect the house to magically clean itself.”
The word “maid” in both contexts (well I’m admittedly guessing for the first one) is synonymous with “housework” or “household chores”. And for both commotions, the root stems from the imbalance in sharing of household chores.
In the past, under traditional “gender roles”, men would be the breadwinner, while women would take care of the household, otherwise known as “housewives”. Men would work, while women cooked and cleaned. (Fun fact, I recently learnt a new term: “homemaker”) But in modern societies, with more education opportunities and jobs available, that is no longer the (only) case. Women could work and earn incomes, and in the two stories mentioned, that was exactly the case.
In today’s world, we have working adults, not just working men. But why does it feel that housework is still largely a woman’s “job”?
My mum earns the most in our family, while my dad is still unemployed ever since he resigned from his previous company right before COVID-19. Yet, she struggles to nudge my dad to help with a simple household chore: mopping the floor. Needless to say, her request for my dad to help clean the toilet didn’t succeed too. Household chores were not fairly shared between husband and wife. In fact, is it overboard to think that, given how much free time my dad has at home for now, he should be taking up a larger slice of the pie for housework?
Sometimes, I also feel frustrated when I’m helping to mop the living room or kitchen, but I see my dad or brother just lazing around at home or playing computer games. And then when I’m done, there was no “thank you” or any sign of appreciation. It felt like they took it for granted that the house would be cleaned, eventually… somehow.
In a recent episode of “Hush Podcast” by Clarity, titled: “What if I want to be single, forever?”, one of the hosts quoted, “Being single means less housework for women. // According to a 2008 study, getting married means an extra 7 hours a week of housework for women. And for men, 1 hour less.”
Seven hours?? It sounded absurd to me, but when I thought about the common chores involved: cleaning the floor, surfaces, toilet, and doing laundry, that duration sounds about right… (& we’re probably not even talking about cooking meals).
Why is this happening? Why does something so simple to do seem so hard for some to do? Why is housework not valued as importantly as a “job”? Urgh…
As I think deeper about this issue, my frustration grows.
The upsetting truth is that, the party who cares more will end up doing more. If you care more about cleanliness than your partner / housemate, and they really can’t be bothered to clean the place, the inevitable outcome is that you will do it, and most likely, all of it, while burying your unhappiness. And maybe one day, you can’t take it anymore and burst out in anger, just like my neighbour. Scary, huh?
As for me now, I do my best to clean my bedroom and work area, and do my own laundry every week. I’m not anyone’s maid and no one is my maid. (ah yes, I know the term used nowadays instead is “domestic helper”) Honestly, I see doing my own housework as training and building a good habit, so that when I move out into my own house in the future, I won’t have a “culture shock”.
To future families, I hope this problem doesn’t persist and can be addressed if it does exists ._.
Okay, that’s the end of my rant ._.
& for patiently reading this till the end, thank you!