Friday, 12 December 2008
What doing the ironing leads to...
The other day I did the ironing, which made me feel better. My clothes, some of which are probably genuine antiques, always seem to need ironing. I go for natural fabrics, rather than synthetic ones.
Who irons these days anyway? Not the Persiflagettes, it seems. Or only rarely. Nor many other people. The younger ones of my many sisters say they never bother now. The local drycleaners seem to do a brisk trade in ironing for other people. They have a sign saying that ironing is the most disliked household task. Evidently this is so, as I once saw a man come in with 30 shirts. It must cost quite a lot to get your shirts laundered each week. Do non-ironers even own irons? Or ironing boards? If you never do it how do you know you dislike it?
My ironing does not take all that long - not like when all the children were little, so I don't mind doing it. But only when I feel like it. And a cold rainy day makes it seem ok. Sometimes domestic virtue does actually help you cheer up.
It was a nice quiet afternoon, and I curled up with a book and listened to a CD. I usually have a lot of books on the go. Some I read from cover to cover, others I dip in and out of, according to my mood. I am reading a book on feminism, The Great Feminist Denial, by Monica Dux and Zora Simic. It is worth a read. It provides a good analysis of why many women appear to disclaim feminism, and to ignore or not know the substantial difference it has made to the choices available to women now. It is good on the sort of right-wing journalists such as Miranda Devine and Janet Albrechtsen, whose techniques appear to be to take a few extremist positions and then to denounce them as being typically feminist. The authors are also good on Virginia Hausseger, who apparently blames feminism for her infertility, apparently caused by untreated chlamydia. Nobody told her anything, it seems. While sympathetic to the infertility, I don't think one can blame something like feminism for an individual failure to discover generally known and readily available facts about female fertility.
The book is not a rant by any means, but sets out many facts about feminism, the changes it has made in women's lives, how increased female participation in the workforce naturally enough caused increased demand for child care. It also covers raunch culture, and the condition of Islamic women. I am not up to that yet. But what is pole-dancing? This seems to have passed me by, whatever it is.
Dux and Simic understand that whatever choices are made by women with children about working or staying home, things are seldom easy, and there are always trade-offs.
I was married just before the books by Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer were published, and those books certainly illuminated the condition of women and the restricted choices available at that time. It was as though a bright light had suddenly illuminated the darkness containing all the crap written and talked about women's nature and their place in society.
I worked part time for many years, and was fortunate to have a wonderful job in a workplace which enabled me to balance, I hope successfully, the requirements of family and work. It turned out to be just as well that I did have a job and could support myself. Ultimately you have to rely on yourself.
How did I get from ironing to this?