The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

3 December 2005

Some assembly required

Cue Neil Young:

My life is changing in so many ways
I don't know who to trust anymore
There's a shadow running thru my days
Like a beggar going from door to door.

I was thinking that maybe I'd get a maid
Find a place nearby for her to stay.
Just someone to keep my house clean,
Fix my meals and go away.

There are people who to this day believe Neil Young was some sort of male chauvinist pig for writing this song, mostly because they focus on that second verse without paying any attention to the first. In context, it's clearly more sorrowful than sexist, even allowing for the fact that Neil would sound mournful singing the likes of "Walking on Sunshine," but even if a W-2 form is involved, it's still the master/servant dynamic, and therefore, in our "enlightened" age, it must be horribly wrong. (Call me when Hollywood leftists start taking out their own trash.)

On the other hand, no one, myself included, is going to complain about this idle musing of Laura's:

[I]t's time for science to invent a robot. I'm thinking a cute guy, who looks about my age, slim, wears western attire, knows horses, is loving, warm, good in bed, knows how to listen, can cook, etc.... He would know how to snuggle, wouldn’t mind helping with housework, and doesn't ever get depressed or angry.

Then, on those days I feel the need to be alone, I could turn him off.

I'm willing to bet, though, that were I to express a desire for a girlbot of comparable complexity and capacities, I'd catch all kinds of hell.

Addendum, 4 December: I found this on a LiveJournal:

Problems usually arise when one party to union mangles definitions: when husband (lover/living partner) expect his counterpart in love / cohabitation to perform service jobs unpaid, as part of "good wife / child rearer / soulmate" character. Part of Victorian atavism: a provider husband and housekeeping wife. Again, an honest arrangement, basically a barter of skills.

Too often, however, despite realities of contemporary life, when both partners work outside of home, only one party is expected — and not only in her partner's eyes — to do a second shift as cleaner / cook / decorator / nanny / tutor etc. I heard someone who express her dissatisfaction with this extra unpaid work load to be called "unkind" and even "unfeminine" by her long-time partner.

Of course, different people come to different domestic arrangements; attitude-wise I find one example to be ideal: Lileks family.

When I was married, things weren't precisely egalitarian, but my cooking and accounting skills were inferior to hers, so I assumed more responsibility for cleaning and laundry, at which I was reasonably competent.

I think both of us would have appreciated some mechanical assistance.

Posted at 11:48 AM to Table for One

Sadly, I think you're right. So how many shades of hell would *I* catch if I asked for a Sapphically-programmed girlbot, I wonder?

The lyrics in Young's song don't read sexist to me. But then, what do I know? I guess I am not "enlightened".

Incidentally, I had the pleasure of seeing Neil Young live at FarmAid in 11/04. He did a great show.

Posted by: Lachlan at 1:18 PM on 3 December 2005

I have to admit that I didn't think of that particular combination, or its cognate on the male side, but then again, I am not a programmer. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 2:24 PM on 3 December 2005

"I" need a maid. I'm female. Does that make me sexist? LOL

Posted by: Diane at 2:51 PM on 3 December 2005

Naw, just overworked.

Posted by: CGHill at 3:12 PM on 3 December 2005

No doubt you would catch all kinds of hell, Charles. I did. That's the nature of the place and time in which we live. But every place and time has some sort of cultural norm that intimidates the majority into conformity, including verbal conformity. One can either bow to the pressures that dominate one's milieu, or one can speak one's mind and damn the consequences.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 4:44 PM on 3 December 2005

We're victims of heritage vocabulary conflicting with chic posturing. English is biased, where does that leave us ?

Posted by: opit at 4:45 PM on 3 December 2005

Oh, Charles, thanks for the mention.
Your sharing of chores is impressive, (and rare, in my experience) - but I was hoping to talk about something else when I wrote it.

[how to make LJ notify me of the trackbacks? so little time, so much to learn...]

Posted by: Tatyana at 9:45 AM on 8 December 2005

That was your LJ? Shows you how much attention I'm paying these days.

Posted by: CGHill at 10:37 AM on 8 December 2005