by Patricia Gundry
I have recently been thinking on an exciting subject with all those who seek to match the form of their life to higher forms and patterns in order to mirror those glorious things which we mortals often talk of but seldom understand completely and even more seldom are able to put into practice.
While meditating upon the subject of housework, after having spent an afternoon in the occupation, I realized that cleaning is but picking up objects and replacing them. In the case of dirt and dust removal it is the picking up of the object to be cleaned and then picking up the dirt or dust with another object, (say a cloth or vacuum cleaner) and depositing it elsewhere. By being a steadfast cleaner, the cleaning person thereby familiarizes her or himself with all the objects in the house. Again and again this picking up and laying down is enacted in the same rooms with the same objects.
There has been pressure for some time now on husbands to do their fair share of those cleaning tasks, that they should share in these duties in the name of mutuality of responsibility and mutuality of work, thereby freeing their wives for a wider scope of activities. And on the surface it is not too hard to see how people could become blinded by such seeming reasonableness and fall into this unfitting sharing of work.
But there are larger issues at stake here. Do not be falsely led. We are enacting in our earthly relationshps heavenly patterns. We are but the reflection in the mirror. The real thing is beyond. There are reasons why we may not share these plebeian, but noble tasks so cavilierly. There is a firm and final reason why only women should do housework. It is because they must do housework to keep them home.
I know this sounds too simple, but like all great truths it sounds simpler than it is. It goes like this. The picking up and laying down of familiar home objects has a patterning effect on the mind of the one doing it. That is why women always know where the things are in the cupboard and men never do. Women's minds have been reinforced by repeated retracing of these steps; pick it up--clean it--clean under it--do it again next week, month, year, etc. So the woman is the one who should do it. It keeps her mind occupied with where things are, and whether they need cleaning or not, and where the man's socks are, and whether there is any more soda pop or chips.
This may appear trivial to you, but it isn't. By this constant conditioning, the home beocmes more important to the woman, it becomes her whole world. She can function there almost automatically. She also becomes attached to the objects involved. They become a part of her mental equipment. Thus, she is more thrifty. She will not throw out that old mop. She is too used to it. And she will stay at home and do all the work, lest someone else come in and mess up her kitchen. She grows to think no one else in the house can clean properly, cook a meal. It becomes true! Eventually no one else can. So you can see that she makes true what she believes, proving it was true, of course.
Now you may argue that if this really is all true, then that is but the beginning, that to be consistent and faithful the ideal women ought also to clean office buildings and theaters. Yes, and they often do, but it is all right for men to do these things, (provided they are paid adequately) just so they don't do them at home. For a theater or an office is only a building, not a HOME. And as but a shelter or repository for an audience it has no soul, no truth to keep alive, no tradition to maintain. So it's all right for men to be janitors.
There are practical reasons why women should do housework too. And this is also theological. You know, form reflects divine purpose, or anatomy is destiny, or something like that. The thing is that women are usually rounder and smaller than men and so they fit in small places easier. And if they fall off a high stool reaching something a larger man could clean with less effort, well, they bounce better, because women's bodies contain more fatty tissue. So the divine design shows up again.
Women have stronger hands for detergents. This was planned. If men use detergents too often, they get dry skin. Not women, they will use hand lotion. Men cannot do this because it is sissy. Women can take more heat on their hands. I am sure this is true because a well known theologian told me so.
You might be thinking that I have not adequately shown the theology involved in my first claim, that the design of the ages and all that decrees that women should do housework. Well, there is theology there all right, and glory too. But sometimes those who are too eager to analyze things and look for proof and are always doubting just miss these things a little too easily. And you may be one of those.
But in case you aren't and really want to know--it is because everything has a place. And if any thing or person steps out its place, the whole wonderful system will get out of kilter and the end of the world will happen, you dummy. And then the black holes, which are a form of the reality of the image of sin will suck us all up in them and that will be the end of that. And all because a bunch of people who aren't afraid to mess with the status quo let men share the housework.
Besides housework is good for women. See how they giggle, see how they like to wear bright colors, see how they dye their hair, wear lipstick. That's proof, for goodness sake. And anything that keeps women home more is bound to not only help save civilization as we know it, but undoubtedly will indirectly protect the ozone layer, and counteract global worming.
Parts of the above originally appeared, under the same title, in the magazine The Wittenburg Door, number 49, June-July 1979.