Spinning Stories

‘Dirty Linen: couples and their laundry’ by cqualmann
March 26, 2009, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

This book, by Jean-Claude Kaufman, reports on a French sociological study of couples and their relationship as defined through their attitudes to Laundry:

“The trail of laundry leads us into an extraordinary conjugal landscape; one where gestures say the opposite of words and words the opposite of thoughts; where speech becomes a way of remaining silent and silence a form of speech; where laughter and tears carry an identical message; where skills are paid for dearly rather than being rewarded, where the capacity to give also has its price; where the defence of personal interests defines the joint rule; where only a part of the individual becomes part of the unit represented by the couple, the other part continuing to live its own life; where the two lives of the man give rise to a social guilt individually felt; where the two lives of the woman form the trap which closes in on her.

The laundry trail also reveals that this landscape is being turned upside-down, particularly in its early stages; people do not form a couple in the same way they did one or two generations ago, nowadays integration into the couple is a slower and much more complex process. The couples attitude to the laundry plays a central part in that change; it is no coincidence that ironing is often a contentious subject within the couple, that wearing jeans or buying a washing machine should now be seen as an indicator of commitment. The laundry trail enables us to understand why the idea of sharing out the household tasks equally between men and women is still rarely translated into reality, why, even with the best intentions, the two partners slip back into inequality. The answer lies in observing the actions which tell the opposite story to words and ideas.” extract from Middlesex University Press’ website


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