A clean house is the sign of a wasted life

September 19, 2007 at 10:55 am 10 comments

Clean HouseThe Internet is such a great concept. It allows us to stay in contact with friends and family who may be scattered all over the world. I do not understand how it works, I just know that if I type a note to a friend from my email account and click “Send,” my friend will get that note almost instantaneously.

I get all types of emails. The worst ones are spam or ads. I set these to go to the junk file and somehow my email knows how to sort the good mail from the bad mail. The best emails are from friends. I have friends who are always sending me the latest jokes or an encouraging poem.

This is how I came across an email from a friend who is in her late 60s and lost her husband to a prolonged sickness last year. She is one spunky lady and I have always admired her tenacity for life, even if she is a political conservative.

The email said, “A clean house is the sign of a wasted life.” I just could not resist this fantastic phrase and opened the email immediately. It had a cartoon depiction of a 1950s type of woman kneeling at the side of a sparkling tub, cleaning rag in hand, donning a tailored dress, an apron tied in a perfect bow, some sensible heels and big a smile on her face.

Just to the left of her perfectly styled hairdo were the words, “A clean house is the sign of a wasted life.” Now I like to keep a clean house as much as the next person. I do not like clutter at all and I cannot stand it when dust starts to gather on my furniture. However, this little cartoon spoke to me more than scores of books on women’s issues.

It caused me to ask myself how much of a woman’s life is spent cooking, cleaning, laundering, mending and tending to the house? The next obvious question is whether that time could have been better invested in some other endeavour. If women had always invested their energy into other aspects of society, instead of washing dishes, what would the world be like today?

Please understand that this is not by any means an easy concept to embrace. A woman is expected to clean her house first and if she has any time left over, then she can freely go about her other endeavours without a guilty conscience.

In fact, if a woman does not clean her house and someone comes by to visit, she is judged by the cleanliness of the house, not by what she accomplished for society during that day. Moreover, no one would ever think twice about ever scrutinising the husband for that same dirty house even though he lives there too and is just as responsible for its cleanliness.

It is high time women stopped feeling guilty for not maintaining a perfectly clean home and started thinking more about contributing to society outside of the four walls of her house. A clean house is most certainly a sign of a wasted life, if indeed the woman is the only one who is doing the cleaning. There is so much more in life than scrubbing a tub.

I am not saying that families should start living in squalor. I am saying that women should consider their options and if there is something else that requires her attention and it should take priority over mopping her floors, then let the floors stay dirty and get out there and live life to its fullest.

Who knows, if the laundry doesn’t get done in a presumably “timely manner,” as it is expected, maybe someone else will decide to do it themselves for a change.

Entry filed under: feminism, feminist, Stella Ramsaroop, women, women's issues. Tags: , , .

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. DJ  |  September 25, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    Amen! I rarely clean or cook and I don’t feel bad about it. My mom is constantly trying to get me to reform but it’s not a priority to me. I don’t like dirt but I can stand clutter so until I get a mansion that’s what I will be living in.

    Which reminds me of how this weekend I went visiting someone and she kept apologizing over and over for the mess as if I would be offended. I kept telling her it’s not that bad but she still felt the need to apologize.

  • 2. daniella  |  December 24, 2007 at 4:53 am

    I as a woman think that to make a home is a very productive thing and not a waste of life, and i am very insulted that you have just said that i have wasted my life.

  • 3. Celeste  |  May 22, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    The article was excellent. I normally maintain a clean organized home. However, I work as a counselor/case manager and it is extremely difficult to keep a spotless house when I am working late to assist clients, speaking at conferences, attending networking meetings, writting grants etc. I work in the non-profit sector and at times when my home isnt “perfect” it’s beacuse I am helping to make the world a better place. I love the article. Thank you.

  • 4. Brittany  |  September 15, 2008 at 2:05 am

    Amen to that! I would much rather be enjoying a beautiful day rather than staying inside and breathing in toxic cleaning chemicals. A woman should be no more judged by a clean house than a man!

  • 5. Rebecca  |  April 14, 2009 at 7:53 am

    At first I thought it was an insult…perhaps. But as I look back on my life, my mother was a clean freak, she also spent zero time playing or enjoying her kids. It was so difficult to care for seven people she literally had no life but cleaning. And she was a mean woman, completely intolerable, but when guests came by she was proud, when they left-it was back to cleaning. She constantly interrogates me asking if Im having a hard time kepping house with two kids, I tell her HELLyeah! Its soo much work, I think of it this way, if my husband were home all day, could he do a better job than I cleaning and cooking? I think not. Yeah I wish that it were different in society, but its not. I have liberated myself and found that I can live with dishes in the sink and some extra laundry. I cant please everyone, and I will certainly not kill myself because my husband or society expects it. I would rather spend a day enjoying my kids playing outside insider wherever than working like a horse exhausted feeling guilty because I spent no time with my children. I know, I was that kid, my mom slaved all day-her whole life, olnly to realize a divorce and five grown kids later, that she doesnt know who she is or what her purpose is. Sad isnt it. Thats what this picture is depicting, My mothers life. Ill be damned if Im her. I go back to school for my BSN in nursing in August 09′. Dishes and laundry arent goind to stop me from putting my print on the world.

  • 6. Anonymous  |  November 4, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    yea but your house is your biggest investment and if you let it go to hell and you try to sell it nobody like to a dirty home. you purchase a dirty home?

  • 7. Pialbo  |  March 29, 2011 at 10:46 am

    What a funny comment the sixth one!!!
    You can still clean your house the day before selling it 😀

  • 8. Brooke  |  May 25, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    In order to really appreciate the point that was being made in the article, it is necessary that your analytical skills aren’t lacking. There is nothing in this article indicating that the author believes women who clean are wasting their time. The post is simply stating that women should not guilt themselves into spending every second of every day tending to the cleanliness of the household IF THERE BE SOMETHING ELSE SHE FEELS INCLINED TO PARTAKE IN. It’s all about priorities. If mopping the kitchen is going to interfere with grabbing coffee with a friend, mop the kitchen when you get back; If doing the laundry is going to interfere with treating yourself to a massage, wash it later; If cleaning the bathroom is going to interfere with writing the book that you have ALWAYS wanted to publish, switch to every other week instead of every week. It doesn’t mean your house has to go to hell in a hand basket, and it doesn’t mean you are wasting your time… it just means that it is NOT THE END OF THE WORLD IF YOU PUT YOURSELF FIRST. Good post!

  • 9. NK  |  July 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Good post.

    I came by to check out this post because I was at loggerheads with an activist friend about the very same idea. The fact is that her house is always in a mess and mine is immaculate (courtesy my MIL). When her MIL returns her house turns immaculate. Never mind the details.

    I feel I did pick up a good skill from my MIL, keeping a neat home is a good thing. But, till I got married, I lived like a pig, had no sense of cleanliness and had no interest either to mop, clean. But, I did have this keen desire to live in those homes which look perfect and neat, always. It does give me a sense of relief when I get a surprise visitor and I never have to apologize. Hmm. But, there are times when I do not give priority to the cleaning. I do what I want to do and tend to the house ONLY when I have a LOT of time. 🙂 Also, I never waste a weekend mopping, scrubbing etc. I always do it when I am energetic and also in the mood to do some cleaning. So…that is how I deal with this. Well, expecting the man to do stuff like this, I think its a foolish idea. 🙂

  • 10. Brenda  |  October 4, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Good job, I am happy you are refinding this quote, I always had it hanging in my kitchen in the 70,s. I ran across your site when I was searching for the author of this quote. Anyone know who it was?

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