When is a feminist not a feminist? Is it when she gets her maids to iron her man’s shirts?
No – I’m not going all Germaine Greer on you and I’m not going to appraise Caitlin Moran’s new book (because I’ve not read it yet).
Why am I asking? Well, this weekend, I read two very interesting articles in The Times featuring Nancy Dell’Ollio, the former squeeze of England coach Sven-Göran Erkisson.
The piece by Stefanie Marsh made my jaw drop (there’s a paywall, otherwise I’d link to it, but if you have access to Weekend, do have a peek) and made me giggle.
In it, the writer admits she is baffled by the Italian lawyer who has described herself as a “geisha” for her boyfriends, not least for her empty phrases that make no sense.
But what really caught my eye was her assertion that British men don’t dress well because their female partners don’t iron their shirts because they don’t “care enough”.
Of course, Nancy doesn’t iron the shirts of her current partner, the theatre director Sir Trevor Nunn. She gets the maid to do it instead.
Our Nancy says she is a feminist (“new feminism” not the old type where we wanted to take the place of men) is far too busy in her career (what does she do again?) to iron.
“No. Because I don’t know how to do it … And I make sure that my men, when they live with me, their shirts are very ironed. Because it comes from what I’ve been seeing, from my culture,” she told Marsh.
Is it just me, are you lost, too?
Do we iron our men’s shirts? Or do we not? Or do we all just get the maids to do it?
This leads me to some very simple questions: if you are a woman with a male partner, do you iron his shirts? If you are a man with a female partner, do you expect her to do your ironing? Do you iron each other’s clothing when going through the clean laundry basket? What do you?
I’m not here to criticise anyone whose role is of homemaker and who does the ironing without questioning it, but I wonder how many working women actually iron their partner’s clothing.
In the main, I work from home. I do the school run and do my share of tidying and cooking. I sort the bulk of the washing and drying and I iron my clothes and my children’s.
I have never ironed my partner’s. He’s never expected me to, either (I’d probably get it wrong, if I did. My inability to iron school trousers is legendary in these four walls).
Nancy, you have confused me utterly, but you do make me laugh.