Rereading Simone de Beauvoir (SdB) for Josi’s Exile the marriage section– and I recall well domestic days, horrid cleansers, fixation on stain removal, returning dirt, those sacred cleaning rituals. Now, I’m all green products and clean spontaneously when the need arises. But I know that frenzy, desire to wipe away, achieve some obscure glory from a clean house, and the prize…what? Once, I was a homemaker, domesticity was my charge. It was a mindless task, infinite. That’s not to say anyone expected it, that love or affection rode on it. But I do think it was more an internal drive, as SdB suggests. And still some part of me is convinced a clean and ordered room reflects one’s mind and mood. How can one think straight amidst clutter? So I have removed most clutter (with the exception of books) by tossing out nonessential items that are of no practical use. One might say I’m a pseudo-minimalist. Interesting, too, how SdB alludes to a a sort of masochism to a woman’s cleaning and I’ll add martyrdom. Suffering the pains of domestic chores, seeking perfection, an escape from self, from…? I’ll admit I never knew one should clean beneath bureaus or clean windows in the spring …happy to say. Spring cleaning for me is merely dusting a desk, removal of clutter, extras, a new idea, or manic pursuit.
Love many quotes from SdB but here’s one:
“Housework in fact allows the woman an indefinite escape far from herself. Chardonne rightly remarks: Here is a meticulous and disordered task, with neither stops nor limits. In the home, a woman certain to please quickly reaches her breaking point, a state of distraction and mental void that effaces her.* This escape, this sadomasochism in which woman persists against both objects and self, is often precisely sexual.”
Hm. Not sure about all that. I wonder what Freud might say?