The Slob Thing

Q: What happens when a man puts a fresh roll of toilet paper onto the holder?

A: Nobody knows; it’s never happened.

Or, if you don’t like that joke, there are about a fucking billion exactly like it. Turn on your TV to check if you want: three seconds should do it. It’s taken as cultural gospel that men are, by nature, sloppy, unhygienic, and generally filthy. Women, by contrast, are neat and clean and constantly exasperated by the unending tide of filth that is the male gender. Indeed, a standard way of calling a man’s masculinity into question is to show that he is neat and well-groomed (i.e. thousands of throwaway gay jokes, or every episode of Frasier).

This is part of a larger cultural narrative, one that I’ll call the “civilizing” narrative, wherein men are grunting, violent, ill-smelling brutes, and women must overcome these disgusting attributes and train the men to ape the manners of civilization. (Usually via their role as sexual gatekeeper, dontcha know.) The men often experience this as emasculation, but come to enjoy being “domesticated” because it lets them have the suburban nuclear-family existence we’re all supposed to want. This is a pretty popular model; you see film theorists analyze Westerns through that lens, conservative pundits like to write columns about why this “fact” means that traditional marriage is necessary, and of course it’s the go-to model for sitcom writers too hung over to do any work that day.

Thing is, I’m pretty sure it’s just made up.

Certainly on the slob thing, its predictive value is crap. To call back to the original joke, I always feel compelled to put toilet paper onto the holder properly, and a good thing too, because none of the women whose bathrooms I use ever do it. I’ve seen both men and women with bedrooms whose floors weren’t visible, except for a narrow path between the bed and the door. I’ve seen both men and women carefully cleaning the glass on the front of the microwave. I’ve seen both men and women be wildly inconsistent in their neatness, keeping the inside of their car pristine and the inside of their house looking like a grenade went off in a hobo jungle. I’ve seen both men and women put yesterday’s clothes on because fuck it. Just because there’s a million of this meme doesn’t mean there aren’t a million more of this one.

Nobody’s saying that there are no cases where women straighten up after slobby dudes. I’m sure there are many such cases. I’m also sure I spent years following one girlfriend around, putting the lids back on things she opened, because otherwise nothing in the house would have had a lid. I’m saying that from what I’ve seen, human experience fails to match up very consistently to the cultural narrative.

Shorter version: If you’re correctly calling a flipped coin 50% of the time, don’t expect me to be impressed with your predictive abilities, or to laugh at jokes about how you always call the flip correctly, amirite?

So here we are, awash in a cultural narrative that is, unequivocally, insulting to men. There’s no hidden up side to being referred to as smelly and disgusting; the oh-but-I-love-him-anyway excuse in commercials is usually “He doesn’t know how to do laundry, but he can fix the car!” or some such shit. Is there a way to combat this that doesn’t just trigger reflexive sneering about “metrosexuals” or whatever equivalent gender-policing term is being used this year?

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Noah Brand is a mysterious figure with a very nice hat.
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88 Responses to The Slob Thing

  1. Jim says:

    “This is part of a larger cultural narrative, one that I’ll call the “civilizing” narrative, wherein men are grunting, violent, ill-smelling brutes, and women must overcome these disgusting attributes and train the men to ape the manners of civilization.”

    It’s foundational in Celtic cultures, and by inheritance in Anglsphere cultures, (with a nasty intrusion of Latin misogyny to muddy the water.) Mythologically in pagan Ireland war, poetry and alcohol were represented in the person of goddesses like Meidhbh. Socially ladies – not women, just ladies – and druids were exactly equivalent in law and custom, in a system where the warrior aristocracy was counterbalanced by the “academic” class the druids belonged to.

    Nowadays of course gets reinforced in a family structure where mothers do all the child-rearing. Of course women are doing the civilizing work on litle boys. The toxic part comes when the little girls presume to identify that work as part of a gender identity rather than as a generational dynamic.

  2. Danny says:

    So here we are, awash in a cultural narrative that is, unequivocally, insulting to men. There’s no hidden up side to being referred to as smelly and disgusting; the oh-but-I-love-him-anyway excuse in commercials is usually “He doesn’t know how to do laundry, but he can fix the car!” or some such shit.
    Oh thank glory and mercy for this. I’m so sick of people that seriously try to act like Homer Simpson being the main character somehow negates the fact that he’s been acting like and been treated like a gluttonous moron for nearly 20 years.

  3. noahbrand says:

    @Jim: Cool, I didn’t know that mythological background detail. Thanks for the info. 🙂

  4. Cheradenine says:

    See also the patronising misandry in “So easy, a man can do it!” (Eagle33, you probably don’t want to click that link. Just a lil’ warning.)

    I grew up with parents who both worked and who split the household chores, including cooking, cleaning etc pretty evenly between them, so I’ve always found this whole narrative bizarre and sexist. Count me also in the group that’s observed people of all genders, everywhere along the gross-slob/hygiene-obsessive axis.

  5. Ros says:

    He doesn’t know how to do laundry, but he can fix the car – those narratives are complete and utter BS, to boot, and they’re utterly unfair to both genders – the implication is that the guy can’t learn (and is dumb as a post to boot, ’cause really, laundry may be boring and tedious, but intellectually complex, it ain’t) and therefore the woman gets stuck doing the work (… refer to previously-mentioned “boring and tedious” comment).

  6. Jim says:

    “I grew up with parents who both worked and who split the household chores, …”

    Here’s a weird reversal. During my time in the Army it was not unusual to hear man say they insisted on doing all the cleaning at home because their (civilian) wives’ standards were just too low. Convenient maybe for the wives, but assholish too.

    I also find the whole thing sexist and bizarre. My dad loved to cook and my mom was happy to do it as much as he wanted. She loved cooking too, so she didn’t mind sharing an activity she thought was fun, and besides, she ran out of inspiration sometimes and it was nice to get a break. house cleaning was a whole separate thing, but he was out of town so much it was really moot anyway. And then later I found out that my grandfather, his dad, also loved to cook, and this goes back to the 20’s. I only ever saw him do anything in the kitchen around Christmas, and assumed it had to do with being the one with the stength to horse the turkey in and out of the oven. But no, he loved it for its own sake. But here’s the thing – he forebore because it would have “emasculated” my grandmother if he had shouldered her out of her kitchen. Her kitchen.

    My mom taught us to cook and do our own laundry starting in the 60’s because she wasn’t born to be anyone’s servant, for one thing, and also because she didn’t want any of having to be dependent. how pathetic and helpless it would be to need someone to make me my own damned food.

    @Noah, Paddy Brown could fill you in on details. The legal protections for ladies and druids were pretty strict. Physical violence was basically a sacrilege. Also both ladies and druids could lay injunctions on warriors that they were bound to carry out on pain of death, and typically with ladies those injunctions involved demanding sex from the men. Any parallels with modern-day assumptions about arioound ex and desire and who gets to demand it? Rapey, rapey, rapey. A very privileged position in society for the ladies.

  7. Jim says:

    “See also the patronising misandry in “So easy, a man can do it!” (Eagle33, you probably don’t want to click that link. Just a lil’ warning.)”

    It seems to have abated in recent years, but this kind of narrative – misogynist – aimed at women was standard all the time I was growing up. There’s still a hint of this, or of overcoming this, on a lot of home improvement shows.

  8. Lynet says:

    I suspect it might be partially true, purely due to the self-fulfilling-prophecy effect — like when my roommate explained that the man who used to live in my room didn’t always clean up as often as she’d have liked “but, hey, he’s a man, so that’s ok.” (No, seriously, she apparently just honestly wouldn’t ask a man to do as much cleaning).

    A few weeks later she was asking if I could please not leave crumbs on the bench after making my breakfast at six in the morning.

  9. Bryce Lloyd says:

    My favorite commercial was the one where the father is home with his son, and the son asks him to *gasp* COOK SOMETHING! Complete with echo effect, extreme close up of his fear filled face, and the like.

    The best thing was, the product was individually wrapped microwave hot dogs. Because putting the regular ones on a plate and nuking them for thirty seconds (never mind using the stove) was just more than he could cope with.

    How proud I felt.

  10. April says:

    Funny that I read this after angrily doing all the dishes once I got home from work because my husband spent the entire day watching TV and playing video games and it never occurs to him to contribute to household chores more than once every few weeks. I’m passive-aggressive like that, though.

    …on the other hand, if you knew me 4 years ago, you’d be shocked to see me voluntarily doing dishes in the first place. Just about every single guy I was in a relationship with prior to my marriage was far, far neater than I. I’m a recovering slob who proves wrong that stupid stereotype — or at least, used to.

  11. Guh >:| I hate the narrative! >:O

    I had a friend who’s husband once used it to justify why she should do all the cleaning, esp of the washrooms. He said that, as a man, he is naturally worse at cleaning and tidying, and that women are naturally better at it, AND b/c we’re “naturally” evolved to do it, it’s less painful and tedious for us, so therefore she should do the cleaning. -_-

    And he was pretty versed in gender-egalitarianism too, so it shows just how deeply these narratives are ingrained in our society and can be even in us. (they sorted it out thankfully, when she pointed out the narrative he was working within :] ) But I rly am sick of all the "men are slobs and doofuses and etc" crap… -_- (the reverse part of that narrative is that women are super clean and tidy… and should be… my mom had this narrative, like post-transition, she told me "you're a girl now, so you have to have everything neat and folded" and I couldn't even hang my jacket over a chair or something… cuz women are supposed to be always neat and have everything perfect… and they can't have unmade beds, etc… or like bosses I've worked for that expect more tidiness or neatness from female workers… it's all stupid gendered crap that puts everybody in boxes -_-)

    ugh >:\

  12. Jim says:

    Hey, Lynet!

    I loved this:
    “— like when my roommate explained that the man who used to live in my room didn’t always clean up as often as she’d have liked “but, hey, he’s a man, so that’s ok.” (No, seriously, she apparently just honestly wouldn’t ask a man to do as much cleaning).
    A few weeks later she was asking if I could please not leave crumbs on the bench after making my breakfast at six in the morning.”

    Not as much as she’d have liked. I have noticed how many discussions of this rest on an assumption that the women gets to set the standards and the man is a slob or a slacker for not coming up to them.

  13. sonicrhubarb says:

    Agreed!

    So would the complementary cultural narrative to this possibly be the uptight uber-responsible woman who is incapable of enjoying herself, and just needs fun-loving guy to set her free?

    At least that’s one that comes to my mind…

  14. Pingback: The Gender of a Slob « Clarissa's Blog

  15. Tenya says:

    Oh, I think plenty of cultural “oh that’s okay that you guys are baffled by laundry or oven cleaning, but christ if a woman can’t do this shit she’s never going to get married/be worthwhile as a human” contributes. Individually too, I know plenty of mothers who rolls their eyes but nevertheless go to work cleaning their grown son’s apartments but would if their adult daughter expected the same would say “Excuse me? Didn’t I teach you what a mop is for?”

    Either the stereotype is that men are just ‘naturally’ slobs because of something something cavemen something or that women are just exacting harridans and men clean a reasonable amount, but women just don’t acknowledge it because, you know, bitches. Notice that either way it works out to men doing less?

    And you know, I’m happy to examine the why we joyfully continue with this harmful, stupid stereotype, but I will challenge that idea that it is untrue and that men and women are actually equally divided amongst the clean and slobby:
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/2095937 <- from the 90s, but 12/hours versus 5 hours/week, across single, married, widowed, lines – including adult children living at home.
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2002.00743.x/full Internationally, in married and cohabitating couples, women do more housework (2002 data).
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2008.00479.x/abstract 2008, becoming a parent equals more housework time, for women anyway.
    So yeah, individually, you'll get women who prefer trails through the house and leave food out and toilet paper is never on the holder in comparison to men who have a thing for everything and everything in place. But overall? Closer to a case of being harmful in effect rather than an untrue stereotype.

  16. Schala says:

    “the reverse part of that narrative is that women are super clean and tidy… and should be… my mom had this narrative, like post-transition, she told me “you’re a girl now, so you have to have everything neat and folded” and I couldn’t even hang my jacket over a chair or something… cuz women are supposed to be always neat and have everything perfect… and they can’t have unmade beds, etc”

    I’m not sure where my mom stands on this, but I didn’t fall for it that’s for sure.

  17. I dunno what you mean by “fall for it”… cuz I still just am the way I am xD I’m just using that as an example of the attitude :3

  18. Schala says:

    I didn’t think that way pre-transition, or post-transition, and always found it weird that some ways of being were thought of as feminine or masculine, when it clearly had nothing to do with sex.

  19. noahbrand says:

    Talking about this issue with one of my girlfriends, she points out (rather obviously, in retrospect) that this binary is, like all the others, degendering and hurtful in both directions. She’s a slob in most ways, and has had to deal with the issue of “Women aren’t supposed to be like this, but I am, so something must be wrong with me.” As far as I can tell, she deals with this by buying a million friggin’ Sanrio products to prove her femininity, and then leaving them all over the damn floor… 🙂

  20. Rae says:

    H.L. Mencken has an essay complaining about this somewhere in the “Prejudices” series, so the stereotype must’ve been around for at least the better part of a century.

    Personally, I’m a total slob. I get worse in relationships, because it often turns into an arms race… I’m not going to turn into the person whose higher standards mean they always do the dishes by default.

  21. @Noah that’s exactly what I was saying :3

  22. I actually did believe, not that women are neater, but that women more than men are raised in a way that leads them to feel they will be judged on what the house looks like. But I really have nothing to back that up.

    Of course, the fact that Noah was following his girlfriend isn’t dispositive wither, plural of “anecdote,” etc., etc. I think we can say “women are generally neater than men” without saying either “women are always neater than men” or “being a woman makes you neater than men” like Ami Angelwings’s mother.

  23. doubletrack says:

    Great post; shitty narrative. Also, LOL @ “the go-to model for sitcom writers too hung over to do any work that day.”

    “There’s no hidden up side to being referred to as smelly and disgusting”

    Hardly an upside, but the “advantage” of this narrative for men is that you can expect women to clean up after you. Sort of like the “advantage” of women being thought of as weak and incapable is having men to change your lightbulbs, or some shit.

  24. doubletrack says:

    (Just to be clear: I think this narrative is 100% shit, just like the “women are weak and incapable” one, and by “advantage” I mean “way in which this sucks for both men and women”. Since Ozy’s “equal and opposite suckitude” claim yesterday, I’ve been thinking a lot more about how sexist tropes cut both ways (although I’m not sure if I’m sold on the “equal” bit just yet)).

    I also like saying “shit”; you may have noticed.

  25. @doubletrack yus… like I was talking about w/ my friend’s husband… :\ he turned it around so that he had what he saw as an excuse not to do any chores :\

  26. IDiom says:

    Indeed, a standard way of calling a man’s masculinity into question is to show that he is neat and well-groomed (i.e. thousands of throwaway gay jokes, or every episode of Frasier).
    – Noahbrand

    Have you ever even seen an episode of Fraiser? Fraiser is notable for turning masculine gender roles on their heads, the protagonists are both brothers of near (and actual) genius level intellects, with impeccable sense of grooming and taste. Most stereotypical masculine activity lies well beneath them in fact the boorish male stereotype of ‘Bulldog’ Brisco is the butt of many jokes because of his clownish overwrought behaviour.

    Fraiser as a show stood out from the swath of crummy TV sitcoms by being intelligent, by making it’s protagonists so incredibly different from any other and then putting them through sitcom cliches but keeping them in character.

    The fact that Fraiser needs a house-keeper has less to do with the fact that he is a man in the show and more the fact that he is a wealthy minor celebrity who is forced to care for his gruff and elderly father – who disdains both he and his bother for being such ‘dandies’.

    As an avid fan of Fraiser I found the show empowering and indeed the only show on television in which the protagonist was not a ‘normal’ heterosexual man as portrayed by ‘Everyone Loves Raymond’, ‘That 70s Show’ etc.

  27. f. says:

    @Hershele, yeah, I’ve experienced the whole “women are fastidious, men are slobby” as a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. I live in an apartment that’s always been 2 men, 2 women, and my female housemate and I have always been shocked to see how few of our male housemates were ever taught to clean or do laundry by their parents! It really sucks, because although we take turns doing all of the chores, it casts us women as the ones who are constantly stuck “nagging” at the guys to take out the trash before it starts to reek, clean the bathrooms, etc. Or pointing out that cleaning the kitchen usually includes mopping the floors. Or that when you cook something, it’s a rule in our household to wash up the pan afterwards instead of letting it sit for a week.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love living with men and would never want an all-female apartment. Nor am I picky about stuff like crumbs on the table or dust on the windowsills – honestly I’m not a cleaning fanatic at all. But, some of these guys were just never expected to learn how to clean at home, and they were cheated out of acquiring basic household skills through all of this gender stereotype bullshit. Their moms and sisters did it. It sometimes feels like I am being forced to parent 25-year-olds. They hate it, I hate it, the idea of the “naturally slobby man” really needs to die a quick death, especially among parents who are raising sons.

  28. f. says:

    Ah, and to be clear, since my female housemate and I are both on the lease, we’ve stuck around for 5 years while a variety of men – different ages, different cultures of origin, etc – have moved in and out. There was one guy who was cleaner than us by a long shot and a few who matched our own level of mindfulness about the household. But the vast majority have been inexperienced at cleaning in the way I’ve described. It’s really a shame, and one of the few sources of friction in a very harmonious living situation.

  29. doubletrack says:

    @Ami Angelwings – totes.

    @f. “I’ve experienced the whole “women are fastidious, men are slobby” as a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.”

    I think lots of gender stereotypes work like this. [For instance, my personal (off-topic) bailwick: the “women aren’t funny” meme.] If people absorb these narratives, they’ll conform to them, and then the stereotype is proven.

  30. B-Lar says:

    I propose an amendment to the first lines:

    Q: What happens when a man puts a fresh roll of toilet paper onto the holder?

    A: Nobody knows it’s ever happened.

  31. Kenshiroit says:

    Q: What happens when a man puts a fresh roll of toilet paper onto the holder?

    A: Nobody knows it’s ever happened.

    hahahaha how wrong, I placed a new one on the holder just this morning 😉 😀

  32. And in studies, girls told girls are terrible at STEM do poorly at STEM.

  33. @IDiom I loved Frasier too, and not just because it helped me out in my A-Level Psychology. I was really disappointed when the lovely David Hyde Pierce played a Niles-like character in Down With Love and this time he was just there to make Ewan McGregor (who I adore too, hello Velvet Goldmine!) look manly.

  34. f. says:

    @Hershele: I was just thinking about an incident where one of my guy housemates’ parents came over for dinner with us. My housemate was in the kitchen, in the middle of cooking a fancy meal, when his mom called to inform him that she was bringing a casserole so “he wouldn’t have to slave away in the kitchen and we wouldn’t have to eat his cooking”.

    It was SO. WEIRD. of her to undermine him like that.

  35. Jim says:

    “Oh, I think plenty of cultural “oh that’s okay that you guys are baffled by laundry or oven cleaning, but christ if a woman can’t do this shit she’s never going to get married/be worthwhile as a human” contributes. ”

    Tneya, that’s the way all these stereotypes work. The man that can’t fix a car or change a tire, the black kid who prefers Mahler…..

  36. Schala says:

    @f

    Maybe their standard of cleanliness is just lower, regardless of their “skill” in cleaning. For sure not letting stuff rot and cleaning the dishes before you can’t see the sink, is a nice thing, but for many, removing dust is not something high on their list (or on their list period).

    I like to clean up the floors and furniture of unnecessary clutter (if I have room to put it anywhere else), but unless there’s a stain or I spilled something, you’ll have to tell me to clean the floor – because to me, it’s not visibly dirty, hence not dirty, hence “Hey I’m saving up time, AND cleaning products!”.

  37. Schala says:

    There is an ad running nowadays that goes:

    If you didn’t marry “Mr handyman”, and we see a man somehow greatly injuring himself with a screwdriver, trying to install something. Then they go “fear not, we have the solution”, and they try to sell us this easy-to-install crap product. Because women can’t do that inherently, and some men are not “manly like that”.

  38. f. says:

    @Schala, I think you misread me. I’ll dust when it’s my turn to clean if I’ve got time, but I don’t give a shit if it tends to be dusty. When I talk about lacking in cleaning skills, I mean more of the, “smearing a dirty sponge across the table and wondering why the table seems greasy” type of thing. In the same way, I lack woodworking skills in that when I try to cut a piece of wood, I usually fail to cut it in a basically straight line.

    Googling around for some kind of objective measure of cleanliness / dirtiness, because talking about this stuff without concrete examples is always a little difficult, I found this: http://www.squalorsurvivors.com/squalor/measuring.shtml I’d say what we prioritize in our shared spaces is not living in “first degree squalor”.

  39. Kenshiroit says:

    Schala, perhaps its the time for feminist and MRA’s to join forces and start a campaign to boycott the adv.companies who use sexist rethoric? no misogyni no misandry 🙂

  40. BlackHumor says:

    @Ken: Isn’t that what we’re doing here? 😛

  41. Jim says:

    “It was SO. WEIRD. of her to undermine him like that.”

    Yeah, f. Family dysfunction that bad has a really weird stink to it. She probably had some kind of job security worries, and of course those would trump any move on her son’s part for independence.

  42. f. says:

    Jim, I’m not much of a psychoanalyst, so you’ll have to take this with a grain of salt. But, I suspect that people who do that kind of undermining thing based on gender are very invested in the idea of “seperate spheres”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separate_Spheres Honestly, I think she felt he was encroaching on her domestic territory by cooking for her. Similarly, I once lived with a boyfriend who would actually take tools out of my hand because he felt fixing bicycles, tightening screws on the table legs, etc. was “his territory”.

    It is pretty ridiculous, and extremely dysfunctional. I’ve even seen women jump up to prevent a child’s father from being “forced to” change the diaper of his own progeny!

  43. Schala says:

    “Getting embarassed of others seeing your mess” For some people, includes a lot easier-to-reach-stages than “behind on dishes and laundry”, it easily can reach “I didn’t vacuum since 2 days ago”.

  44. Jim says:

    @f.

    “It is pretty ridiculous, and extremely dysfunctional. I’ve even seen women jump up to prevent a child’s father from being “forced to” change the diaper of his own progeny!”

    That’s called mommy-blocking and almost every father has experienced it in one form or another. And it really is all about the seaprate spheres thing. And it is traditionalist to the bone – it is coded not law and the adminstration of law and shows up in the way child custody is awarded and in the various enforcment mechanisms around that. And there are self-styled feminist organizations like NOW that continue to spend real money and effort to keep this patriarchal construct entrenched in law and custom.(There was an interesting intergenerational dust-up in NOW a couple of years ago, so maybe there is hope for a sea change even there.)

    So there really is that to what the mother weas doing, and then maybe juyt someone defending her personal role to. I cook a lot and I catch myself slipping into that same kind of presumption now and then.

  45. debaser71 says:

    IMO general house cleaning has everything to do with maturity levels and adulthood. It’s about responsibility.

  46. f. says:

    @ Jim, yes I really do hope that one day all feminist organizations will finally wake up to the fact we women aren’t automatically the better parent. It seems obvious, for the same reasons feminists by and large didn’t flock to vote for Sarah Palin despite the fact she is a woman.

  47. Jim says:

    “Similarly, I once lived with a boyfriend who would actually take tools out of my hand because he felt fixing bicycles, tightening screws on the table legs, etc. was “his territory”.”

    Oh God. Taking things out of your hands? Boundary violations much?

    How did you get through that? Silently repeating “He’s not worth going to jail over. He’s not worth going to jail over. He’s not worth….”?

    “@ Jim, yes I really do hope that one day all feminist organizations will finally wake up to the fact we women aren’t automatically the better parent. ”

    Some already have and continue to oppose this. They point out that is the exact instance of gender essentialism they were fighting aginst in the 70’s. Apprently for some gender advocacy trumps any other objective.

    “It seems obvious, for the same reasons feminists by and large didn’t flock to vote for Sarah Palin despite the fact she is a woman.”

    I wonder if that wasn’t an ah ha! moment for lots of people. Feminists all over the gendersphere sounded off loud and clear about that one.

  48. debaser71 says:

    On blocking ….

    Sometimes I’d rather do something myself than have to deal with cleaning up someone else’s inept mess.

    For example if you change a diaper you might 1) not do a good job and leave the baby to rash and cry 2) might not expect the giant massive poop in there because you don’t know what the baby ate for lunch 3) may dirty up the changing table because someone else has to clean it 4) not do an adequate job of putting on the fresh diaper and the next time the baby pees or poops it’s a huge mess that someone else has to clean…etc

    But yeah, preventing someone from gaining the skills in the first place is low. Lower than IMO refusing to learn the skills in the first place.

  49. f. says:

    Oh, you know, I was so in love… SO IN LOVE… God, it took me a long time and a lot of feminism to figure out how messed up that whole thing was. I was certainly not abused, but I was, uhhh, confused? Let’s go with that, it rhymes.

    Probably one of the reasons I hold out hope for feminism, and for masculinism. I have to believe people are fond enough of each other, that we can let the bullshit go. And stop taking things out of each others’ hands.

  50. Vicky says:

    This post reminds me of an incident that happened way back in the mists of time. I was taking a sociology class in college. There was this one girl who said, “I’m not a feminist! I love men.”

    A few days later, she insisted that male circumcision is necessary because “men don’t clean themselves.” Nobody said anything. Not one person called her out on the hatefulness of that statement. Including me. If I had a time machine, I would go back to that class and rip her a new one for saying that.

  51. @Jim:

    That’s called mommy-blocking and almost every father has experienced it in one form or another.

    One thing that drives me up a wall is when a man left alone with his child while the child’s mother (this is typically a heteronormative trope) is out activitying is described as “babysitting.” His own child.

    @f:

    I really do hope that one day all feminist organizations will finally wake up to the fact we women aren’t automatically the better parent.

    Not organizations, but I can’t think of any feminist space I’ve spent time in where the consensus was any position other than “isn’t it terrible that courts think women are inherently better parents than men.”

    Except that one conspiracy theorist on Pandagon years ago, but she was shouted down.

  52. Danny says:

    Not organizations, but I can’t think of any feminist space I’ve spent time in where the consensus was any position other than “isn’t it terrible that courts think women are inherently better parents than men.”
    Now if they were all able to express it in terms of “Isn’t it terrible for men then courts think women are inherently better parents that men?”

  53. superglucose says:

    “the oh-but-I-love-him-anyway excuse in commercials is usually “He doesn’t know how to do laundry, but he can fix the car!” or some such shit.”

    Part of the reason of the whole “men are not attractive” I think comes from this. Women are taught that living with men is “unbearable,” and men being taught that they are almost entirely “unloveable.” We’re kept around for our usefulness… we fix things. Women are around because, well, we love them. So men can’t be loved. I think this contributes a TON to “men aren’t attractive.”

    And sure, I’m messy. I hate cleaning and always have: I find scrubbing the counters after my (female) flatmate made yet ANOTHER mess while cooking (and to play off the gender dichtomy a bit more, she’s not even a very good cook) to be disgusting. I hate the grime of the flour spills, I hate the viscous, juicy remains of the fruit she abused, and I despise all the crud that she leaves on the burners. When I’m rich and famous (or at least making enough money to feed myself and house myself and clothe myself without warning) I’m going to hire a housecleaner… unless my partner chooses to do all the cleaning herself. Why? Because I just don’t like it.

    I’m not a slob though. I just dislike cleaning.

  54. Uncalledfor says:

    OP: “This is part of a larger cultural narrative, one that I’ll call the “civilizing” narrative, wherein men are grunting, violent, ill-smelling brutes, and women must overcome these disgusting attributes and train the men to ape the manners of civilization. (Usually via their role as sexual gatekeeper, dontcha know.) … Thing is, I’m pretty sure it’s just made up.”

    There’s more reality than you think here, but not in the way I’d be you think. Now follow the bouncing ball:

    1. At any age group, there are some single men who are (i) slobs, and who can be well predicted to be continue to be slobs in the future; and there are (ii) non-slobs, who can also be predicted to reflexively and competently do their share (or more) of housework, child care, etc. The two groups are likely not the same size (!), but neither is negligible.

    2. The former group (i) may be ridiculed a bit, but is the latter group (ii) correspondingly lionized, celebrated, and sought-after? Hardly. When was the last time you overheard a girl say “Yeah, that Johnny certainly looks like he’d clean up and do laundry without being asked; that’s so sexy!” Be honest: between groups (i) and (ii), which do you think gets more female desire?

    3. If non-slobbery were actually important or desirable to women, beyond some ritual rhetoric, then we would see evidence for it, that non-slobs would be highly sought after. But they’re not, so it’s not. Women who are with slobs could, generally, have chosen differently — but they didn’t. Sexual gate-keeping actually preserves and rewards sloppiness, rather than discouraging or reforming it.

    4. What we are left to suspect — and this echoes several comments above — is that, while women may ritually complain about men being slobs, they actually, in practice, _want_ to be with men who are slobs. Why? I don’t have a good answer, but I’m not a blogger. Perhaps being with slobs makes them feel secure in some kind of superiority? This is consistent with all the anti-slob rhetoric co-existing with the complete lack of non-slob-desiring action. From here, I leave it to greater minds to speculate.

  55. noahbrand says:

    @Uncalledfor: Egad, am I glad I don’t live on whatever planet you’re getting your information from. It sounds creepy as fuck there.

  56. Now if they were all able to express it in terms of “Isn’t it terrible for men then courts think women are inherently better parents that men?”

    It’s terrible for everyone! That it’s terrible for women doesn’t make it not-terrible for men! And I’ve never seen anyone say it’s not-terrible for men, which doesn’t mean no one’s ever said it.

  57. Uncalledfor says:

    Noahbrand: So, you’re saying that on your presumably better planet, men who do chores are considered hot? Please, show me the book, the movie, the advertisement, the TV show, the gossip column, _anything_ showing that that’s the case. If you can’t, then you’re living in my world and should just admit it.

  58. Rae says:

    @Uncalledfor: When was the last time you overheard a girl say “Yeah, that Johnny certainly looks like he’d clean up and do laundry without being asked; that’s so sexy!”

    When was the last time you heard a guy say “Yeah, that Jane certainly looks like she’d clean up and do laundry without being asked; that’s so sexy!” Whether you’re sexually attractive is somewhat orthogonal to whether you’re obnoxious to live with, no matter what gender you are, and no matter what gender you’re trying to attract. You don’t get rewarded for your moral virtues with pussy because that’s just not how sexual attraction works. I’m not getting rewarded for my moral virtues with cock. Fair’s fair.

  59. Rae says:

    Also, there’s this. (It kind of icks me out, actually.)

  60. Uncalledfor says:

    Fair’s fair.

    Would that it were so, Rae. Men may not consider neat Jane particularly sexy, but as the OP discusses there is no corresponding cultural meme accusing women of generally being slobs, either. Do you grasp that the situation is not symmetrical? Women complain about men who won’t do their share of work, which implies that they want men who will; but they chose the kind who won’t and then complain as though this was something forced on them. That’s hypocrisy, as practiced by women. Under the heading of sloppiness (other subjects are a different matter), I’m sorry, but there is simply no comparable hypocrisy on men’s part. Individual cases may exist, but there is no corresponding epidemic of men choosing sloppy women over neat and then later complaining, with the support of popular culture, about how sloppy women generally are. Fair would be fair, but as the OP says the cultural meme here is nothing like fair to men.

    Meanwhile, since you mentioned “how sexual attraction works”, consider the obvious: If (i) there really are so many women in the world who are living with slob men, that this is some kind of epidemic as feminism would have you believe, and (ii) those women had at least some choice in the matter, and (iii) other choices were possible; then it must be the case that sloppiness (or closely related behaviors) and being attractive are correlated in men, not orthogonal as you say. Now, why might that be the case?

  61. Schala says:

    “And sure, I’m messy. I hate cleaning and always have: I find scrubbing the counters after my (female) flatmate made yet ANOTHER mess while cooking (and to play off the gender dichtomy a bit more, she’s not even a very good cook) to be disgusting. ”

    In Ranma ½, a rather sexist comedic manga written by a woman (and yes, it’s her entire comedic style to punish male characters for perceived slights, by female characters, often in megaton punch star-in-the-sky way.

    Ranma is the male main character, who turns female when touched with cold water, and turns back to male when touched by hot (near-boiling) water. His imposed-marriage fiancee is Akane, a friend of his family and it’s a marriage for the good of the succession, but they’re hostile to the idea (both of them) even if they eventually warm to the idea.

    Ranma’s curse progressively gets accepted by Ranma, begrudgingly (and he’ll deny it vehemently, because of masculinity) as he “gets used” to turning into a girl, or going to the beach in a bikini (because that’s cold water land).

    Ranma is very competent in pretty much anything he does, from martial arts (he’s the strongest of the cast barring a few oddballs) to cooking (in a pretty showoff style, to boot). Akane is incompetent in many things, except martial arts, but she’s noticeably weaker than Ranma (though as far as female characters go, she’s nearly the strongest), and very very clumsy (so she can’t learn new stuff much, without utterly failing, like super-drowning skills) and she’s the most awful cook of Japan.

    She will not accept that Ranma is a better cook, and get even worst in her panic to prove that she’s a good cook, hence feminine and a good potential wife (Making-stuff-up about recipes when she can’t even follow a dot by dot recipe to start with, like wanting to improve the taste with wine, or putting mayonnaise in curry rice). Everyone who tastes her food has indigestions. And everyone who knows she cooks something will avoid it, especially Ranma.

    But yeah somehow, because she has a vagina, she NEEDS to cook, and Ranma, who is an okay-to-good (and he could become very good if he trained) cook is not okay, because “he’s the man”. Also funny that Ranma’s mother tells Ranma-in-girl-form (that she doesn’t know is Ranma then) that “she will make a good wife”, because her cooking is good (which Ranma doesn’t appreciate much).

  62. BlackHumor says:

    @Uncalledfor: That’s a false dichotomy; chores aren’t sexy to anyone except fetishists. Men who do chores aren’t hot. Men who DON’T do chores aren’t hot. Women decide whether a man is hot ENTIRELY WITHOUT REFERENCE to whether or not he does chores, just like you do.

    Though now I think of that, my mom is actually the least neat person in my immediate family, including me. I’m confidant that if my dad left her alone for a week the house would turn from “pigsty” to “biohazard”. (No insult intended; nobody in my family can really be called “clean”)
    —-
    @superglucose: I think the “men are slobs” stereotype is tied pretty closely to the “men aren’t attractive” stereotype. One of the consistent things about slobs is that they don’t take very good care of their OWN hygiene either. It’s not very easy to be attractive if you never wash your face.

    Incidentally, since most female slobs are less attractive, this ALSO ties into the assumption that only attractive women count (because women are clean only if you use “women” to mean “attractive women”). Which is the basis of much misogynistic whining. Everything’s connected! Isn’t it crapterful?

  63. Uncalledfor says:

    @Rae, continuing from above:

    To make the point more directly, if a woman is attracted (through whatever mechanism you believe to be at work) to men with whom she can’t establish a happy life, then that bad state of affair is primarily her own problem and does not give her a license to publicly complain that “all men are like that” if, in fact, not all men are like that.

    To take the obvious example, if a woman finds herself persistently attracted to men who abuse her, then she’s in a tough spot! and may have a hard time leading a happy life. But, she most emphatically does not get to complain that “all men are abusive,” since that’s not true of men in general, it’s only true of the ones she likes. Replace “abusive” with “sloppy” and the logic remains exactly the same.

  64. Rae says:

    @Uncalledfor: Wait… feminists would have us believe that male slobbiness was some kind of epidemic? I must’ve missed that memo.

    I think that wanting to be with a guy who basically cleans up after himself is like wanting to be with a woman who doesn’t go on a crying jag every time you fail to buy her roses: it makes sense as an expectation, but it’s not really the sort of thing you praise people for succeeding at, or fetishise sexually. (I mean, no offence to anyone with an unusual sexual fetish… it’s just not the main mechanism for enforcing basic social rules.)

    You’re right that there’s a line of thinking that suggests most straight men and most straight women deserve each other. The world is disturbingly well-stocked people who enjoy complaining about their opposite-sex partner in stereotypical ways. (She’s so irrational with her mood swings! He’s so hopeless with the kids! Why don’t they know the first thing about shoes? Why do they always go to the bathroom in groups?) And yet they want a stereotypical opposite-sex partner. I have trouble fathoming why anyone would want to have sex with people they didn’t like or respect, but if you’ve got an explanation, let’s hear it.

  65. Uncalledfor says:

    BlackHumor: Women decide whether a man is hot ENTIRELY WITHOUT REFERENCE to whether or not he does chores, just like you do.

    My, what narrow thinking; pry open your eyes just a tad and you’ll see that this is silly once you consider closely related and predictive behaviors.

    If it is true, as the PUA’s would have you believe, that qualities like self-centeredness, aloofness and egotism in men are widely and deeply attractive to women, then IT’S NOT HARD TO SEE that men chosen for these qualities will also VERY LIKELY be lazy and expect to be waited on hand and foot by the woman who should feel lucky he lets her serve him. I’m not endorsing or subscribing to the PUA view, just saying that there are obvious possible connections between behaviors that create attraction and behaviors like sloppiness or willingness to share work.

  66. ozymandias42 says:

    I would like to go on the record as saying that I would be taken as a woman by the average PUA, and I am not sexually interested in self-centered, aloof egotists, as a study of my sexual history will easily discern.

  67. I wonder how much of the viewpoint about men and neatness attributed here to “feminism” is actually traceable to people who are notable for feminism, in any sense narrower than “notion that women are people.” Because I’ve seen similar remarks from the likes of comediennes and lifestyle-section columnists, but not feminists qua feminists.

  68. Jim says:

    “And I’ve never seen anyone say it’s not-terrible for men, which doesn’t mean no one’s ever said it.”

    Herchele, it’s the frickin’ dominant narrative in the culture. You rarely see it in feminist spaces, but you see it in spaces wher ethe generla public commnets – newspaper articles and so on. Men just make babaies and disappear off to fun in the sun at work all day, or we jusyt come home and put our heads in the tube, or whatever.

    Check out comments on articles that detail the hormonal changes fathers go through during pregnancy. The gender essentialist Creationism and denialism is so thick I makes me want to treat the problem like hoof-and-mouth disease. (I am not as tolernat as I probnaly should be of people’s comfortable superstitions.)

    @Rae
    “@Uncalledfor: Wait… feminists would have us believe that male slobbiness was some kind of epidemic? I must’ve missed that memo.”

    No Rae, I think you missed the post. It referred to a cultural narrative, and focused on women’s role in reinforcing that narrative . Not feminists. Feminists=/= women.

    “Oh, you know, I was so in love… SO IN LOVE… God, it took me a long time and a lot of feminism to figure out how messed up that whole thing was. I was certainly not abused, but I was, uhhh, confused? Let’s go with that, it rhymes.

    f., I had one of those too. I needed some intensicve couseling to get shed of that mess. Good for you that you found a cheaper way.

  69. I misspoke (er, mistyped). I’ve never seen any feminist say it’s not-terrible for men and be taken seriously in a feminist space. It is the dominant narrative; it’s a part of the dominant narrative that many feminists and many masculists are fighting against.

  70. Jim says:

    ” It is the dominant narrative; it’s a part of the dominant narrative that many feminists and many masculists are fighting against.’

    Feminists used to fight against it tooth and nail. It was the cornerstone of the “woman’s place is in the kitchen” meme. Then things somehow changed. For one thing as women started moving into the corporate world. They were welcomed with the same hostility that young men are welcomed with, but they came with significant vulnerabilities, like expecting older men to treat them the way their fathers had treated them instead of the way fathers treat sons. They found themselves attacked on every other vulnerability, the same way thier male peers are, becasue it’s a comeptitive environment by its inherent nature, and so they were subjected to sexual harrassment by peers and seniors and all sorts of other arts and crafts. They found they had to present like men – look at the styles from that era, with all the football shoulders. They called bullshit on that.

    Suddenly there was this bloom of articles and organizations celebrating the feminine – Goddess feminsis, in anojther voice, logic as a patriarchal construct, all that stuff. Gender essentialism coming in through the back door.

    So now you have NOW, a blueblood feminist organization, who is one of the main organizational opponets ot equal parenting lwas and intititives in the country, with NARAL not far behind them.

  71. Rae says:

    @Jim, my inner lawyer is probably getting the best of me here, but I was referring to this comment by Uncalledfor:

    If (i) there really are so many women in the world who are living with slob men, that this is some kind of epidemic as feminism would have you believe…

    I think the quoted comment is claiming that feminists would have us believe that male slobbiness is some kind of epidemic. I disagree with that claim (though I agree with the point the original post is making about the wider culture, and do not take it to imply the complaint Uncalledfor is making).

  72. Jim says:

    Rae, I can’t fault your inner lawyer on that one. That’s pretty much how I would read that too.

    I don’t claim to have any kind of encyclopedic knowledge of either academic or internet feminsim, but that that is one I have never seen or heard any feminist anywhere mention at all.

  73. Uncalledfor says:

    Rae: “I think the quoted comment is claiming that feminists would have us believe that male slobbiness is some kind of epidemic. I disagree with that claim”

    Good Lord, you’re actually serious, aren’t you? The idea that men are, typically, some combination of lazy (ie not willing to do domestic work) and sloppy (not caring if domestic work gets done), and so insist that women do all the “women’s work” has been a bedrock staple of feminism for over fifty years! (here “epidemic” just means widespread, not contagious) You don’t have to be on the mailing list to get this memo, there are copies lying all over the ground.

    Try Googling “feminism men housework” or “feminism men childcare” and peruse the first dozen or two results. Here’s one, that drew some attention recently (and was lucky enough to be panned at Jezebel, I believe):

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1300479/Study-explodes-myth-men-house.html

    Money quote:

    Dr Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the LSE, said: ‘This data overturns the well-entrenched theory that women work disproportional long hours in jobs and at home in juggling family and work.
    ‘Feminists constantly complain that men are not doing their fair share of domestic work. The reality is that most men already do more than their fair share.’

    If you want to tangle with Dr Hakim of the LSE, be my guest. But, really, this stuff has been in the groundwater of feminism for decades; it boggles my mind that you might think otherwise.

  74. noahbrand says:

    Who here is kind of enjoying watching Uncalledfor dig himself deeper? Start by fundamentally misunderstanding the premises involved, and just keep doubling down on that bet… hilarity ensues. I’m not saying it’s noble or admirable to enjoy watching it, but we all know that guilty shiver of schadenfreude, don’t we?

  75. Uncalledfor says:

    Not nearly as entertaining as you, Noah, devolving into snark, the last refuge of those with nothing substantive to say. I, at least, can be wrong in principle, since I’ve actually said something; you’re just a clown.

  76. Uncalledfor says:

    I’m not saying it’s noble or admirable to enjoy watching it, but we all know that guilty shiver of schadenfreude, don’t we?

    Brown shirt back from the cleaners, I see. Bet you look sharp in it.

  77. noahbrand says:

    And WE HAVE GODWIN! I knew it was only a matter of time. Anyone so ignorant they think men being slobs is a foundational premise of feminism would be sure to go Godwin sooner or later, but I have to admit, doing it via such a complete non sequitur is impressive.

  78. Uncalledfor says:

    If the shirt fits, wear it.

  79. Xakudo says:

    @noah:

    Who here is kind of enjoying watching Uncalledfor dig himself deeper?

    Noah, seriously, do you just have an uncontrollable urge to provoke people?

    I agree with a lot of what you write in your posts, and I certainly disagree with uncalledfor in this thread. But… good god. This is not the way to create a safe environment for dissenting opinions.

  80. debaser71 says:

    Uncalledfor is getting piled on and cursed at. I hate that shit.

  81. Xakudo says:

    @uncalledfor:
    I am having great difficulty finding anything via google (as you suggested) that actually shows a feminist herself/himself making the claim that men are slobs compared to women. Can you provide some links? I have personally never seen this claim from a feminist.

    However, I have seen the claim on one or two occasions on feminist sites that men do not do an equal share of the housework, which seems related. But I think the idea is more that men are exploiting women so that they don’t have to do work, rather than that they wouldn’t do the work if they didn’t have women to do it.

  82. Pingback: Young at Heart? | No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz?

  83. SpudTater says:

    Haha! I thought Uncalledfor had the faintest glimmer of an argument until he quoted the Daily Mail to characterise feminist thought. For those who don’t know, the Daily Mail considers feminists to be The Devil, just behind immigrants and teh gays.

  84. Jim says:

    “But I think the idea is more that men are exploiting women so that they don’t have to do work, rather than that they wouldn’t do the work if they didn’t have women to do it.’

    I think that is the point of confusion, Xakudo.

    However of course the meme is general throughout the culture and it’s not unusual to hear women voicing this kind of thing, so to the extent feminists are women in this culture, it’s not much of a reach to expect them to hold similar views, in their unreconstructed moments.

    “and WE HAVE GODWIN! ”

    Noah, strictly speaking you had the first Godwin, with this bit:
    “that guilty shiver of schadenfreude, don’t we?”

    Oh, and nouns are supposed to be capitalized in German.

  85. noahbrand says:

    @Jim: Um. Dude. German =/= Nazi. Brownshirt = Nazi. If I’d mentioned bratwurst, would that also be a Nazi reference by this standard?

  86. Jim says:

    No, I’d take that as a sexual reference. Sorry – both were in poor taste.

  87. @IDiom: “As an avid fan of Fraiser I found the show empowering and indeed the only show on television in which the protagonist was not a ‘normal’ heterosexual man as portrayed by ‘Everyone Loves Raymond’, ‘That 70s Show’ etc.”

    Ok, you’re right that “Everybody Loves Raymond” presented a “‘normal’ heterosexual man”, but Ray – the “man” – was the but of many jokes, as his father (who was also a “man”) and his brother (less so, but a bit).

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