men vs. women – the housework debate chapter two


Having espoused the logic of the concept multitaskminitiming, we embark on the meat of the study, closely following two characters who shall be known here as Charles and Awa.

For the last three months, these two have formed part of our sample study – identified in Chapter One as “study aids”.

The approaches to the tasks by both characters are generally telling of the simplicity of the machinery operating within their cranial chambers. Nevertheless, in that simplicity, the cerebral density of our study aids is light enough to reveal process flows that each follow in the accomplishment of various tasks, which clearly support the theory at the base of this thesis.

During my observation period, the length of which can be measured using the time difference between the two Chapter posts, Charles consistently followed a logical flow that allowed him to complete his task either:

a) in the shortest possible time, therefore maximizing on his leisure time. This happened mostly when I was sure not to be at home to raise objections to his lounging about, or to provide more tasks for him to carry out on noticing that he had finished the tasks already allocated, or:

b) in order to complete them as efficiently as possible, in order to achieve praise and commendation from his lord and master, to wit, myself. This, I must note, happened mostly when I was present and fully awake, and consistently enough for me to surmise that it was part of a logical approach calculated to ensure said praise and commendation was unsolicited and delivered in person by myself.

Awa, on the other hand, went about her tasks with a consistently sullen, ordinary, regularity that ensured a high level of irritation on my part at the depth of her sighs of despair and general demeanour of “Nazza g’waki?” (What did I do to deserve this, Lord?!).

Making it obvious that she was utilizing all her energies to avoid wearing a cloth sack and throwing ash over her head, she went about all tasks in one of two ways. Either:

a) taking as long a time as possible in order to underscore the difficulty involved in her scope of work, covering tasks ranging from washing up after a light breakfast of katogo and tea for two people, to sweeping and mopping up two rooms full of large pieces of furniture that required no movement whatsoever during the process. It was obvious to all that this exaggeration of the pain involved in dispatching her duties was in all instances directly proportional to my proximity to the theatre of the work involved; the further away I was from a room in which she conducted her sweeping, mopping and moping, the higher the decibels of her sighs. In the same mien, the louder the volume of the television during the time that I was sitting in front of the gadget, the stronger the shuffling of her rubber slippers as she walked past mid-chore; or,

b) ensuring that the task in question was left incomplete and on display until such a time as I became physically present to find the task undone. This, it would appear, was aimed at ensuring that I was on hand to observe her finally accomplishing said task. She therefore ensured a constant supply of dirty dishes in the sink, numerous arrangements in different parts of the house of buckets and basins containing dirty water and old t-shirts-turned into mopping rugs, and piles upon piles of dirty laundry at various stages along the processing line from when one takes off ones clothes to when one’s maid finishes ironing them.

Understandably, therefore, Charles is always on the right side of my temperament whereas Awa continually lives in a state of mortal danger by working within my close proximity.

In order to eliminate suspicions that my study was misogynistic, I had to conduct a controlled experiment under similar conditions. I needed a series of simple and quick tasks that I would measure for various attributes relevant to this study:

  1. Speed of execution
  2. Efficiency of delivery
  3. Complexity Reduction approach
  4. Innovation
  5. Benefits to client (myself)
  6. Benefits to subject (Awa or Charles)

Task One:

“I forgot to buy milk, and I need milk tea now. Please go to Middle (pronounced ‘Me-door’) and get milk.”

Task Two:

“Tomorrow morning as soon as you arrive, put that box (point at mineral water carton size cardboard box with anything in it) in the car.”

Task Three:

“Take the dog for a walk at least two times a day.”

The table below provides a summary of the work methods of both Charles and Awa, broken down into the first five steps each took to accomplish the tasks:

Task Charles Awa
Buy milk from Middle Trading Centre. Takes money. 5 seconds. Takes money. 5 seconds.
Walks to nearest shop in Middle. 10 minutes. Walks to her room to change out of ‘work clothes’ into something presentable. Fifteen minutes.
Returns with Milk. 1 minute. Returns to main house to add a small, meaningless step to some unfinished task – rinsing a cup or two out of the pile in the sink. Five minutes.
Hands milk over to someone to make milk tea. 1 minute. Walks to some shop in Middle possibly the farthest point away from home, judging from the amount of time it takes her to get there and back. It might have something to do with her shoes, but then there’s the lack of logic right there. Twenty minutes.
Offers to polish my shoes. Fifteen seconds. Finally returns with milk and drops it on kitchen counter in order to go back to her room to change back into work clothes. Two minutes.
Net Result Knowing full well that the offer to polish my shoes is made simply to curry favour with me, I am pleased with this fellow and will continue to increase his pay on a three-monthly basis. Thirsty as hell for some milk tea and finding it hard to believe that this woman is spending precious minutes changing into and out of some clothes that can’t impress anyone but the askari on the other side of the estate, I resolve again to fire her once I can find a replacement.
Put box in car first thing in the morning First thing in the morning, checks to ensure I am not out of the bedrooms, and then asks someone for the keys to the garage and the car. Two minutes. First thing in the morning, goes about what she does first thing every morning, without any memory of the instructions of the night before. Mostly because first thing in the morning she starts off by finishing off the work that stayed over last thing the night before. Ergo, dishes are being washed, floors mopped, dustpans emptied, and so on and so forth. One Hour or as long as it takes for me to find her doing it.
Moves the box out of the sitting room into the kitchen, where he then proceeds to down a couple of mugs of steaming hot tea. Twenty minutes. Looks up in alarm when I ask her why she hasn’t yet put the box in the car. Then proceeds to stand there in silence contemplating the question further. Two minutes.
Picks up the box and then loudly asks for the garage and car keys again when he hears sounds suggesting that I am about to make my appearance into the living room. Starts his demand with, “But how many times do I have to ask for the key to the car so I can put this box there and then proceed with cleaning up the compound, washing the dog and, if possible, sprinkle water onto the road so that there is no dust to disturb boss as he drives to work?” One Minute. Shakes dishwater fluids off her hands then rubs them onto her apron to dry them off, heads for the box, picks it up, then puts it down again to go and get the keys to the garage and car. Three minutes.
Takes the box to the car and places it in the car boot. Thirty Five Seconds. Picks up the box and proceeds to the car. Two minutes.
Gets cloth and wipes dashboard down thoroughly. One Hour or as long as it takes for me to find him doing it. Places the box in the driver’s seat. One minute.
Net Result In spite of my well-founded suspicions that Charles is playing to the gallery, I am pleased that he is carrying out my instructions to the letter and hasn’t inconvenienced me by placing the box in a position that requires my further intervention. I am also a little peeved at the maids for not giving him the garage keys on time, which indicates poor teamwork on their part as well as possible domestic sabotage. As if finding myself carrying the test box from the drivers seat to some other location is not bad enough, the underpart of the box has a soggy feeling because of the wetness of this damn woman’s hands when she picked the box up after her dishwashing stint. I really need to fire her!
Walk the dog twice a day Calculates the best method of doing this to his advantage. Five seconds. Screws up her face at the presentation of yet more work. Five seconds.
Immediately suggests that we increase the number of times we wash the dog as well, saying something like, “I have noticed that Simba enjoys being rubbed, though she doesn’t seem to like being clean. She seems to appreciate the benefit of getting rubbed enough to accept extra baths.” Six minutes. Sighs and says, “Banange embwa eyo!” (‘That damn dog!’) Ten seconds.
Departs immediately after our conversation regarding Simba, and some little chit chat over the land bill, and takes Simba for his first walk following my instructions. Three minutes. Calculates that since I go to office daily I probably won’t be able to supervise closely enough whether or not the dog goes for a walk twice a day. Two minutes.
One and a half hours later. Returns from the invigorating walk with Simba and ensures I spot him through the window giving Simba a basin of water and brushing his fur down. Doesn’t come close enough for me to smell alcohol on his breath. Proceeds with life as usual without considering that when the dog doesn’t take its walks twice a day, it tends to mope around the house and therefore provide signs for me to deduct that it has not been taken on its customary walks as per the orders of its master.  Five days.
Wipes the car or polishes my shoes a little bit. Five minutes. Finds herself so caught up in routine that she clean forgets that I do not go into work on Saturdays and will therefore be present to notice that she has not taken the dog for a walk the entire day, therefore presenting the requisite evidence for her contract termination. The first six hours of Saturday during which it is obvious that Simba is not going anywhere.
Net Result I know that in one and a half hours he could have walked to Mukono and back, and suspect that he walks three minutes to the malwa joint up the road then ties Simba to the back of the shack while he imbibes the illicit brew with the rest of the village. Still, I am happy that the dog is getting to walk and enjoys the occasional T-L-C in my absence. I am a little concerned about the possibility that Charles is going to enjoy two stints a day of one and a half hours each at the malwa joint. Fired.

But we should not lose sight of the argument. The basis of this discussion was that men use logic to do housework better than women.

Summarising the above three housework tasks re: the argument therefore:

Men clearly use logic to conduct housework better than women.

Ergo, Charles is now earning some good money for the work he does, while Awa, for all I know, might be a rebel fighter’s wife in the Congo.

She was replaced at the end of this study.