Monday, January 31, 2011

Ironing As A Lost Female Skill

Jennifer Armstrong sent me a link to this story. Then I saw it discussed in other places! It's a hilarious one, though of course it's also meant as a click-magnet:
BASIC "female" skills are becoming endangered with fewer young women able to iron a shirt, cook a roast chicken or hem a skirt.
Just as more modern men are unable to complete traditional male tasks, new research shows Generation Y women can't do the chores their mothers and grandmothers did daily, reported The Courier-Mail.
Only 51 per cent of women aged under 30 can cook a roast compared with 82 per cent of baby boomers.
Baking lamingtons is a dying art with 20 per cent of Gen Y capable of whipping up the Aussie classic, down from 45 per cent for previous generations.
Social researcher Mark McCrindle said: "Women of today tend to be busier, juggling more roles, and are quite prepared to compromise a bit of the homemade just to save some time.
In one sense this is one of those "get off my lawn" pieces where the older generation bemoans the deterioration in the younger generation. I once saw a piece like that from the era of the Roman empire.

But in other ways this is an oddly essentialist article, lamenting the possible death of sex-typed chores at home. Women don't know how to iron anymore! Men can't fix the car! Never mind that ironing is not needed with most modern fibers and that computerized cars lend themselves poorly to home remedies. And the assumption is that women do the cooking at home, even if they also go out to work.

Then there's the juxtaposition of changing a tire with cooking and ironing. The former is a chore which is needed very rarely. Eating, on the other hand, tends to take place daily. This juxtaposition is a very common one, and it continues later in the article where "taking out the trash" is seen as a typical male chore, even though that happens only once a week. Though now women do it, too!

On the deepest level the piece is about lost gender roles. Perhaps we could return to a world where women know how to sew a hem on a skirt and then get order and peace back into the world! Except that I have all those lost female skills to a very high level. Heh.