I’m trying hard to be offended. I really am.
But try as I might, I’m failing.
Don’t get me wrong, people who break the law offend me, but when it comes to everyday life, it takes a lot to get my knickers in a knot.
I am not offended by casual flirtation, which in any shape or form these days is branded sexual harassment. In fact, if someone wants to wolf-whistle at me, I’d say go for it. Open the door for me while you’re at it.
I am not offended by the word fat. I’ve been fat. I’m less fat at the moment, but I’m still a little bit fat.
I’m not offended at colour-coding baby blankets, pink for girls and blue for boys, and I’m not perturbed by the sight of a little girl clutching a dolly and a young boy vroom, vrooming a truck.
I’m not offended by gay marriage, gender reassignment, nor by Christians who are.
I’m not offended by the black guy who told me white middle-aged women can’t dance, nor by my daughter who believes white middle-aged women shouldn’t dance. Ever.
I’m not offended by being called a lady in the workplace for fear it doesn’t conjure up a sense of business acumen, or strong leadership. The most impressive female bosses I’ve ever encountered are perfumed steamrollers at their best and ladies all the time. And I’d really prefer to do business with a gentleman than a yob.
I’m not offended by blonde jokes, despite my blonde locks.
And I’m damn well not offended by a washing label on a hat that cheekily suggests at the bottom of the washing instructions ‘… or give this to your mum, she’ll wash it’.
— sian robson (@sianrobson) January 3, 2018
Sian Robson was. In fact, the university manager in the UK was so furious at the ‘awful’ suggestion discovered by her equally aggrieved 13-year-old daughter, she raised the issue with the offending online fashion label Missguided. While recognising the suggestion as a joke, she describes the instructions as ‘not right’ and failing to break stereotypes. She argued that the insensitive label should be showing young teens that men can also do the household chores.
Well, of course they can. In fact, in my experience, single young men are far tidier than their female counterparts and I’m more than confident that their housekeeping skills can extend to washing a hat.
However, at the risk of stating the obvious, when these young men marry and have families, no matter how far up the corporate ladder their successful wives climb, when their women become mums, they will most probably be relied upon to run the household.
I know young adults who still take their washing home to their mums, powerful CEOs who rely on their mums to care for their children, and divorced parents who regularly turn to their mums for emotional support.
So what’s the problem with washing a hat?
Missguided wasn’t being sexist, it was being funny and rather than being alarmed, can we just take a breath and be a little more bemused instead? Doesn’t it just prove what we’ve known all along? Women are better at doing it all than men. After all, Naomi Watts rejected a date with Tom Cruise in preference to staying at home for Mum’s lamb roast. If it was Dad’s cheese on toast on offer, Tom may well have scored.
Do we really need to be offended by the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that if all else fails, mum does it better?
Ms Robson’s worked herself into a further indignant lather to point out that children who bought the hat may not have a mum, nor a parent, to do the washing for them. This will lead me to sleepless nights worrying about the millions of kids wearing hats around the world who don’t have a washing machine. And what about all those househusbands whose skills have been left off the label? They must be having conniptions.
Where does the horror stop?
Meanwhile, I’m comforted by the fact that mums will wash their kid’s hat if all else fails, despite the fact they’re also capable of running boardrooms, companies, countries and armed forces.
Hats off to all of you!
How are the household chores divided in your working household? Does it matter if it’s taken for granted that working mums are still expected to run the household?