Men have absorbed the idea – who said they couldn’t absorb new ideas? – that they are supposed to do certain things, say certain things. That they are not supposed to do and say certain other things, the very things, alas, that come naturally to them. This plays out in fascinating and exciting ways.
A prototypical demonstration:
Upon observing the light of his life frantically trying to get ready for expected company, the new man asks how he can help. To which the light of his life sweetly replies, with the rises at the ends of sentences by which women seek to defuse savagery and declare their utter lack of certainty and self-esteem: “You could clean up after yourself? So that I don’t have to?”
Now, the old model male might have looked sheepish, might have said, “Sure, Honey,” and then done nothing. Or he might have said, “No way,” and then done nothing. The old model male wouldn’t have asked in the first place.
The new man freaks. It has been suggested that he doesn’t normally clean up after himself and that it would be something special for him to start now. How could anyone who lives with him, anyone who knows him suggest that?
The scene that ensues brings about several results: the light of this man’s life finds herself with less time and energy to clean her house, for which tasks she gets no help whatsoever. She learns to never to impugn her man’s – for lack of a better word – newness. And, incidentally, to keep cleaning up after the guy.
Situations like this one play out daily in homes wherever men and women cohabitate. We knew that, even without the article in today’s New York Times, “The Case for Filth.” In this piece, the (male) writer argues that the solution to dirty men is dirty houses: don’t do it for them, ladies, just learn to live with it.
What might come as a surprise to others – not me! – is a statement in the article that housework tends not to be divided equably even in homes that include the transgendered. In my admittedly limited experience, a man who was incapable of dressing, feeding, washing the clothes or combing the hair of a child will, after recommencing life as a woman, send visiting children home filthy, unfed, wild-haired and with suitcases of dirty laundry. Whatever it is that enables women to do household chores, it would seem it is not included in a hormone injection.
So what is it? Women have demonstrated that they are capable of doing virtually all the world’s work, including mastering the many arenas from which they were once excluded. While men are still unable to pick up after themselves. Are women innately capable of doing everything well and at the same time?
And men are innately capable of – er – ?