“Men are slobs”. This is a phrase I’ve been hearing rather a lot recently, always verbalised by high articulate feminine voices (rather than the deep guttural grunts that we men clearly still use to communicate). In fact I don’t think it was long after the Stone Age when the male species was banned from making such sweeping stereotypical statements. It would be an interesting experiment to see how long I could last in the company of my female friends uttering phrases such as “All women are bad drivers” or, heaven forbid, “Women are less intelligent” before they turned on me, labelled me a “sexist” and “chauvinist” and proceeded to club me to death. But it would seem that some women (not all, of course – I’m not generalising here) do not believe the same rules apply to them.

Naturally, there is some truth behind the slovenliness stereotype. On the whole, women are tidier than men. According to research, working men spend on average about 10 hours a week on housework, whilst working women spend 19 hours a week. But just because on average we’re not as tidy as women, is it fair to go all out and call us slobs? Cheetahs are faster than antelope, but at 61mph you still wouldn’t call an antelope slow.

It is also true that there are students who come to University and relish in the freedom from their parents by not cleaning or washing at all. But these are not as common as you might think. They’re also not all male. I spoke to Chloe, a third year at the University, who told me “I live in a house of three girls, and it’s always a complete pig-sty. We never wash the dishes or clean the house.” Of course, the really extreme cases do tend to be men, and naturally those are the ones that stick in your mind. Especially if you’re unfortunate enough to end up living with the gruesome person in question, due to the not-so-mild disgust and frustration that can accompany such an experience. For the same reason, it’s very easy to overlook the large amount of acceptably clean and tidy guys there are out there, to take them for granted because there’s no mess or stains to notice.

This is the general problem with stereotyping – and, in particular, gender stereotyping. It’s very easy to give an entire group a bad name, based on the behaviour of some of the members. Just because there are slobs out there, doesn’t mean that the whole male species should take the rap for it. Besides, times are changing – and the gender roles are changing with them. Business-women and house-husbands are becoming more and more common. Women are earning their place in the workforce; give men a chance to earn their place in the domestic world. It wasn’t too long ago that men did no housework at all – when the cleanliness of the house was solely the responsibility of the women. So if we’re still messier than you, give us a bit of a break. Evolution takes time.

Stephen Lovejoy

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