My husband was up to something very strange.

"Erm, what are you doing?" I asked, perplexed.

He looked at the broom, he looked at me, then he swept his gaze over the floor.

"Sweeping." He stated simply.

"Why?" I asked, even more puzzled.

"Because the floor needed sweeping?"

"But I was going to do it." I protested, wondering if this was beginning to sound childish.

"Well, I got to it first."

"But it's my job!" I really felt I had to make a stand now. Larger issues were at stake.

"I'm quite capable of sweeping the floor"

Sure, and what about next to the ridge by the front door- would a mere man think to open the door and do that? But I kept my cynicism to myself. For now.

"Give me the broom."

"No me!"


"My broom"

"My broom"

And so you can see the problem. How does a female chauvinist cope with a liberated husband? How does she keep him out of the kitchen? How can she withstand the inroads to her self esteem, that feeling of dismay when her husband sneaks in to stir and season the soup, the sensation of redundancy, the potential annihilation of ancient domains. Ladies, it is a threatening situation.

Yes, I must confess (though not completely, as you see, I write anonymously) I am a female chauvinist, daughter of a female chauvinist. A firm believer in that antiquated notion that only women know how to polish the cave and skin and roast the stag. That's the stag which her husband hauled home before he grabbed his spear and went off to war against the neighbouring tribe, bless his gentle soul.

You can't trust a man to polish the cave, let's be realistic. He'd probably forget to shine your favourite cluster of tasteful stalactites in the corner there. You wouldn't let him skin the deer- hah! He'd stub his thumb on the flint. He'd damage the hide so you wouldn't be able to stitch a suade dress for winter. No, men cannot do women's work- it's self evident. He just doesn't have the necessary finesse.

It's quite obvious and best suited to a man's nature to be out of the cave, stalking supper, or stalking a member of the neighbouring tribe. But he'd better remember which one he drags home because the wife is extremely tired after taking care of fourteen children all by herself all day long and she might simply not notice what she skins & throws in the fire for the barbecue.

Of course, in primitive societies there is a wonderfully supportive women's network, extended families of cousins, married sisters, aunts, grandmothers and less well defined female relatives who can pound the grain with you and help tie up the kids. There really is no great need for him to come in and spongea the floor when your back is wrecking you and there are a thousand other things to do. Things he wouldn't think of doing and would probably never notice they were done and would probably laugh at you if he caught you doing them- or laugh at you for insinuating that they are important and you actually spend time doing them. Like touching up those stalactites.

So, after millenia of female suffering, scowling, surviving, along comes the answer to all your heartfelt prayers, along comes a man who actually (italics) wants to help at home & hearth. He eschews the spear & other tools of war & violence. He volunteers to arrange the barbecue nicely on the fire & will clear the fungus off the walls. He even has ideas about the furniture and how best to stitch suede coats. And how do all the females react? We're (italics) irritated. Well, first we might be delighted, but pretty soon we're practically chasing him out of the door with the firepoker.


He's a threat. He threatens all our definitions. Our cherished understanding of what men are, passed down from hairy, muscular father to hairy, muscular son. And indeed, who women are, passed down from industrious, careful and aesthetically wise mother to equally talented daughter. Can we accept him, even when we appreciate his efforts? Can we allow him to even attempt to do our work (even though he'll never be able to do it properly by (italic) our standards- HE thinks he has, and that's enough for his insufferable ego. But then he is a "New Man" and doesn't have ego problems as do his more primitive predecessors. It is most bewildering.

So, ladies, I ask of you to take action, now, before it is too late, before this frightening trend becomes more prevalent. Discourage it. Downplay it. Hide away the brooms. Lock up the cooking pots. Have EVERYTHING done before they come home. Don't put temptation in their way. If we let the liberated males into our domains, things will never be the same again.

Copyright © 1999 Gila Atwood

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