Coming clean about housework
Is hiring another woman to do your cleaning really a betrayal?
by Katharine Whitehorn-The Observer, Sunday 24 February 2013
Some feminists take a strong line about housework, creating the Wages for Housework movement and arguing that men shouldn't be let off chores, and there are those who think hiring another woman to do your cleaning is a betrayal. Some of us, though, don't see why it's OK to outsource the jobs that can be done by men: cars go to the garage, plumbers arrive, window cleaners put up ladders to the upstairs windows with no one saying we're oppressing the lad who climbs them. Yet we're supposed to be doing down another woman if we make her do the washing. (Actually my mother-in-law used to clean her own windows – or the insides of them; she said God did the outside, although He wasn't very reliable.) You aren't considered to be oppressing anyone if you take stuff to the cleaners.
Filipinos in some countries are badly fed and housed and abused by the children – they really are oppressed – but here? I know a Filipina who was able to leave a difficult husband by working partly as a cleaner and partly as something nearer a carer to an old couple. Cleaning is what she does – and does it well enough to pay her half of the flat she shares with her sister and also take holidays abroad. Pity her oppression and deplore her lowly job? I'd rather respect her for what she does.