Don’t get me wrong: I love the Guardian newspaper. But I can only hope Tim Lott’s column today is a poor attempt at a spoof:
This week I am going to write about the biggest taboo in relationships I know… I’m going to write about money. Money in marriage is incendiary. It involves issues of power, feminism, patriarchy, trust and much besides. I have tried to write this column once before and had it flatly vetoed by my wife because she felt that the ground I was treading on was too dangerous.
Sensible wife. Tell me, why did she think it was too dangerous?
This column appears only after an emotional and sometimes painful back-and-forth about the subject. She accused me of sexism, while I suggested she was using double standards (I asked her, in her imagination, to switch the gender roles to see how it would look then).
Ah. I expect she found that reassuring. When people suggest that I switch gender roles in my imagination, I feel totally reassured they’re not being sexist.
My wife works as a part-time associate lecturer and, like many part-time workers, who are predominantly women, tends to be discriminated against in terms of financial reward and employment opportunities. I, on the other hand, am reasonably well paid for challenging but not backbreaking work.
Probably not unusual. So tell me, Tim, what are the implications for your family’s home life?
My wife does more of the childcare, cleaning and cooking than me. This is predominantly for practical reasons. She is physically at home for a lot more of the time than I am and, with a part-time career, she has more hours available. She also tackles all the laundry, having rejected my offers of participation in that area after I shrunk a cashmere sweater, pegged it out incorrectly and turned a dazzling white load grey.
Oh! Of course. Those pesky practical reasons why women do more childcare, cleaning and cooking. And of course, all your talent for challenging but not backbreaking work doesn’t mean you could learn to wash a sweater.
The income inequalities also mean that if there’s a big expense, like a foreign holiday or house improvements, I tend to have the last say. She feels that infantilises her, as she needs to “ask me”… My wife says that my having more money than her makes me feel powerful. She’s right – up to a point. It gives me an area of control, although I don’t think I use it in order to control. I just think that some form of imbalance is inevitable.
Unbelievable. I just don’t even know where to start. Go read it for yourself.