Marriage. We’ve already established that I’m fairly ambivalent on the subject. Recent developments, however, may force me to reappraise my stance. In utterly wtf news, an Italian woman is facing up to six years of jail time because her husband threw a tantrum to the paramilitary police. Her crime? She neglected to do the cooking and cleaning her husband expected of her.
Now surely, when faced with an aggrieved husband whining about the domestic labour arrangements within his own home, any police officer worth their salt would send the manchild packing with a stern warning not to waste police time or resources again. The Carabinieri police, however, saw merit in the man’s piteous claims, and referred the case to the judicial authorities. Seriously. You can’t make this shit up.
Just when you think female human beings are finally gaining some ground, some poor Italian woman faces a criminal trial in which she must defend herself against accusations of “bad management of domestic affairs.” Because of course it is the domain of wives to manage domestic affairs. God FORBID a husband should have to learn to cook or clean. Or lift a finger.
Italy: the land where instead of divorcing your wife over incompatible ideas over how to run a household, you send her to prison. Viva l’Italia!
While this case seems like a bad throwback from the 1950s, one wonders whether it is an extreme example of ridiculousness or the tip of the iceberg. It is widely acknowledged that women take on more of the domestic responsibilities than men in heterosexual partnerships. Even in 2016, “domestic management” often falls to women.
Entirely anecdotally, when I have dated men raised in households where their parents occupied traditional breadwinner-and-homemaker roles, I’ve noticed not so much an outright unwillingness, but oblivion around domestic chores. They’ve been very comfortable with me getting on with cleaning especially, and generally left me to it.
In my limited sample population, guys from families that didn’t conform to traditional gender roles have been much more willing to help, or taken the initiative with no prompting. I realise that my scientific observations are dramatically flawed, and of course there will be plenty of men raised by stay-at-home mums and breadwinner dads who will cook dinner, unstack the dishwasher and make the bed as par for the course, but if US statistics are anything to go by, there are fewer of those men than their lazier counterparts.
As Gloria Steinem famously said, “we've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” If boys grow up seeing their mother doing all of the housework while their father does little or none, or if they’re absolved from doing chores like cooking dinner, folding laundry, or helping out with other chores that have traditionally been seen as ‘women’s work’, and those boys grow into men that we might have to marry… Who wants to have to undo a lifetime of gendered expectations?
It’s not a complete disaster, however. We’re intelligent beings. As we’re capable of learning new skills, we’re capable of learning how to cook and clean. And, on the plus side, men who help with the housework apparently have more and better sex.
As for our poor Italian sister, all power to her. God knows who her husband thinks will be doing the cooking and cleaning if she ends up in jail.Support Villainesse