This is a crosspost: I spoke with Jacinta Nandi for „The Left Berlin“ about housework, Rosamunde Pilcher and the joy of living – and cleaning – alone.
Jacinta Nandi and Nadia Shehadeh in conversation about mums, marriage and men. About how housework would be ok if it weren’t for the lazy man in the background. And why cleaning the house is a bit like sex work.
Jacinta: Nadia, I was so happy when you told me you loved my book, “Die Schlechteste Hausfrau der Welt”, – and a little bit surprised, too, if I’m honest. Like, of course, I thought EVERYONE would enjoy my book – I wouldn’t have written it otherwise! But I thought it would appeal more to mums than childless women. So, go on, at the risk of sounding like I’m fishing for compliments – what did you like about it?
Nadia: Well, I think there’s two reasons I loved your book, basically. First of all, I have younger siblings I had to take care of a lot. My youngest sister is nine years younger than me and I practically raised her together with my mum. And the second reason is because I’ve lived together with men! And I often had the feeling that living with cis-males is a bit like having a child.
You know, I moved in with my first boyfriend when I was just 20 years old. Almost 10 years of being exhausted followed. I think this experience was the reason that I decided not to have kids to be honest!
Jacinta: You know, I think it is so weird. We make out like married women are so happy. Like all their dreams came true? At the end of every romantic film, romantic novel, is the woman achieves everything she can possibly dream of: marriage to a rich, Nice Guy. But I just don’t see it. I think the happiest, luckiest, married woman in the world is actually slightly less happy than the unhappiest single mama in the world? Okay, I’m exaggerating a little bit! But the main reasons single mums are unhappy are poverty and stigmatization. When you factor that in, I think single mums are a lot happier than most married women.
Nadia: It is totally weird, isn`t it? When it comes to mental load and care-work, I’d still say it’s a lot easier when you are single. Even when you divide all the work in the household, there is still one person who has to have a plan. And from a sociological view, I would say most of the work is done by the person with the most competence. And when it comes to reality, it is so often the women who have more skills.
Jacinta: But women have more skills at all this stuff – the mental load, remembering doctors’ appointments, ironing sheets, buying Christmas presents – because they have to. Right? Because men just check out, emotionally speaking. You know, it’s totally true what you say about cis-men. They’re just like an extra kid at the best of times – and at the worst of times, they’re really fucking shitty to you.
You know, I really piss my friends off, my single girlfriends, who are, like nearing the end of their fertility days. Because I’m just like – in non-corona times, obviously – I’m just like: go to some club, pretend you’re on the pill, get the best-looking guy there to come inside you and have a fucking baby on your own. And they’re all like: Oh, I couldn’t do it on my own! But I genuinely think, a woman who isn’t prepared to be a single mother shouldn’t imagine she’s prepared to be a mum at all. Because those supportive partners? They become a lot less supportive once the babies are born!
Nadia: I can totally imagine that. I mean, even in Germany, I see so many progressive feminist women praising their partners for basic human behaviour.