The last thing normal women need is an over-privileged TV star like Kirstie Allsopp banging on about housework

People who do housework full-time are unlikely to find it very relaxing

Share

In the course of Kirstie Allsopp’s latest defence of that most oppressed group – wealthy women who can afford home help – she has revealed to the world her guilty pleasure. No, it isn’t mild bondage play or collecting S Club 7 CDs or even eating Cheestrings in the middle of the night; Kirstie Allsopp’s secret passion is ironing. “I’m not doing the ironing because I have to but, if I get a chance, I find it immensely therapeutic,” she told The Western Daily Press. “I’m absolutely convinced that those repetitive tasks that one does every day, organising and regularising one’s home, and keeping it tidy, are enormously therapeutic.”

Why should we care if the co-presenter of Location, Location, Location loves nothing more than ironing? We shouldn’t. For all I care, Kirstie can iron her husband’s underpants all the live-long day, and then when she’s finished with that she can come round to my house and start on the pile by the washing machine. What is irritating, however, is the second part of Kirstie’s statement, in which she goes on to suggest that her domestic perversion is shared by women more generally. “I have many, many working mum friends who feel the same,” she revealed. “[Knowing] that their child is going to school with clean hair, clean teeth, clean uniforms and their house is clean is what keeps her sane.”

Allsopp doesn’t speak for all women, she speaks for that specific sub-section of people of both genders who are a) wealthy enough to afford home help with domestic chores, and b) unimaginative enough to choose ironing as a leisure activity over any of the myriad more exciting things they could be getting up to. I suggest mild bondage play while eating Cheestrings and listening to S Club 7.

It is true that a mindless task, such as ironing, can be “therapeutic”, but it is important also to point out that this is only so if the task offers a contrast to your usual, mindful working activity. What of that nameless person who does Kirstie’s ironing, once she has tired of the novelty? How does he/she feel about domestic chores? Alas, this person isn’t a TV personality fronting a campaign for Proctor & Gamble, so their views on ironing as relaxation haven’t been canvassed by The Western Daily Press. I’d hazard a guess that people who do housework full-time – be they low-waged domestic employees of posh families or an unwaged stay-at-home parent – are unlikely to see it in quite the same light that Kirstie does.

Despite what some defenders of tradition might imply, there is no movement to prevent people who like ironing from doing the ironing, but a glass ceiling does still exist for women who chose a career outside the home. These women are then further thwarted by the social expectation that they take on the majority of responsibility for childcare and housekeeping to boot. Why? Because we secretly love it, of course!

For the sake of those women who’d rather not be housewives, and also for those who might enjoy it but will never be able to afford it, couldn’t the domestic goddesses pipe down for just a little while? Until women have equal pay, for instance.

Banging on about how much you love housework is, to most working women, like extolling the virtues of fresh air to a homeless person or praising the culinary qualities of gruel to a prisoner – a fascinating eccentricity for you and any similarly privileged friends perhaps, but a crass insult for anyone who lives your hobby as a daily reality.

Whether they’re aware of it or not, people who espouse the joys of housework, without properly acknowledging the context of their privilege, aren’t promoting a woman’s right to choose her lifestyle. They’re promoting a sexist stereotype, which reduces choice for any woman who doesn’t lead a life as charmed.

And doesn’t Kirstie lead a charmed life? You don’t need to read the full interview to appreciate how lovely it is. If you’ve seen any of her recent TV programmes, such as Kirstie’s Crafty Christmas, you’ll know, her career is increasingly synonymous with the escapist domestic fantasy she sells to people who don’t have it so good. Whether heroically making time for the school run, or baking bread from scratch, or just enjoying her greatest passion, ironing, the irony of Allsopp is that she is simultaneously always at work, furthering her own professional image. That’s Kirstie’s real dirty secret; she is as much a careerist as any of us.

Polite is the new put-down

Peace and love to you all, the internet has entered it’s Age of Aquarius and as usual with all things neo-hippie, Russell Brand (below) led the way. Last week, a video of him successfully silencing a heckler with an offer of ad-hoc therapy went viral. “Why are you here in this space, fellow human being?” was his soothing opening.

Then, on Friday, Danny Dyer tweeted an equally uncharacteristically amiable response to critics of his on-screen son’s coming-out storyline in EastEnders: “Here’s a little message for some of the homophobic pricks who are tweeting me ... happy new year.”

Perhaps the most dedicated adherent to the New Nice, however, is pop singer and eternal punchline James Blunt, who has been crowned winner of Twitter for his lighthearted responses to abusive tweets. When @lizziea1 tweeted  “I want to kick James Blunt... repeatedly... I don’t know why,” @JamesBlunt replied “Easy spelling mistake as K and L are right beside each other.”

The choices for victims of online abuse are usually to ignore it – which can feel like self-censorship – or to engage with it – which is akin to debating with a toddler, and as effective.

The polite put-down is superior to all the above because it acknowledges the existence of the troll (which is all usually all these poor lost souls want anyway) while maintaining an inner tranquility. It’s like turning the other cheek – if the other cheek had “#SozLol” written on it in felt-tip pen.

At Cambridge, it’s Wills who’s ordinary

The Cambridge classicist Mary Beard has suggested that Prince William make the most of his controversial admission to her university by taking “the opportunity to meet some of our more ‘ordinary’ students”.

Professor Beard thoughtfully provided her own quotation marks around “ordinary”, but you still have to wonder at her meaning. Pupils from independent schools are over-represented at Oxbridge and even those from humbler backgrounds are likely to be clever, hard-working and not at all “ordinary”.

That’s not to say there won’t still be some opportunity for cultural exchange. The other students can now mix with someone who didn’t scrape three As at A-level, despite all the privileges this country can offer. A spectacle, indeed.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own