Two amusing articles today, this one
by Kathleen Parker and this one
by Ruth Marcus, take on the big questions surrounding the eternal inequalities faced by women with respect to basketball and laundry. Feminists, of course, would argue that basketball (particularly when it's an all-male game with the President) represents "access" to power and laundry is but a metaphor for the continuing oppression of women within their own domiciles.
Marcus is right to note that women will "smile" when they read that the winner of the Nobel Laureate for Medicine was folding laundry when she discovered that she had won the prize for medicine at 5 a.m. one morning. And they will smile more when they hear that this now famous doctor noted that she did not expect the same could be said about what our President was doing when he got notice of his award. I did smile, broadly, and with knowing recognition of the sentiment.
But Marcus is probably right about another thing: women are reluctant to share these domestic burdens with their spouses for a variety of reasons. I think she gives too much credence to the power of generational habit, but she rightly notes the issue of control: female confidence in the fact that men will screw things up if they take charge of things that, traditionally, have been our domain. There is, certainly, some of that. And, with notable exceptions, it is entirely rational. I might mention a couple more. One is that shared burdens usually go two ways in a marriage. If I expect hubby to do laundry, then maybe he'll expect me to mow the lawn or, worse, change the oil. (Fill in your own blanks for these jobs . . . I understand that these things vary from marriage to marriage and this is the variety that we used to call the "spice" of life.) The point is, we all get comfortable with our own forms of drudgery and we also get comfortable about the right to complain about them. They amount, in a sense, to a kind of guilt power. It's not a very noble kind of power, I'll admit, but it has its uses. And, no doubt, it flows two ways. It is the kind of thing that people used to develop a sense of humor about and, today, people instead have to write long-winded editorials about in order to explain it to a denatured population.
Parker rightly notes this last phenomenon with a pronounced, "Yawn." It is boring to have to explain the obvious. And yet, here we are. One wonders how the likes of Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress will continue to find interested audiences for reports like the hackneyed, warmed-over, feminist pablum she served up in her report, ""A Woman's Nation Changes Everything" when people wake up to fact that we've been talking with relentless obtuseness about the same alleged "problems" for decades. Perhaps there is no feminist end of the rainbow . . . perhaps this is just, well, life. And the smart money is with our grandmothers and great-grandmothers who, when faced with life, learned how to laugh instead of whine. There's an awful lot of power in laughter too.