While male politicians flex their muscles, women are doing double and triple shifts at home. Is the solution to this 1950s-style problem some 1970s-style consciousness-raising?
It’s wonderful when the house is tidied, the children dressed, a meal prepared, the clothes ironed. Well, not in my house. Do pop by when it’s safe to. I haven’t done any laundry since 1997. What actually is a vacuum cleaner? I may have made an omelette. Sorry, bit hazy on that one. Washing up? Not my thing. Cleaning the loo? Er … no. As for children, I was terribly good with mine. Sometimes, I fed them at night and changed nappies. Possibly. I had quite a few. What matters is that I was “both present and involved in a detailed way”. Although details of anything, least of all nappy-changing, are not my forte. Anyway, watch me pump up and down doing press-ups on a carpet that – hopefully – someone has vacuumed. This will reassure you that all is well in the world.
So, this is not actually me, slattern that I am, but some of the stuff that Tony Blair and Boris Johnson have said in interviews over the weekend. The subtext: important men don’t do housework. Blair admitted he had done no housework, been to the supermarket or even washed his own clothes since 1997. As Dominic Cummings ignores the freshly pressed suits hanging in his townhouse wardrobe to rummage in the laundry basket for the most “screw you” trackies he can find, the message is clear: “I didn’t get where I am today by being bogged down in domestic duties.” Childcare is something that other people do. (Possibly up north?) Anyway, it’s unfair to expect people to have full-on jobs and get their hands dirty. Especially when we have to wash them all the time.