by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 1 October 2006)
The 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.