Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Clenliness is Next to Goddessness

My husband and I are at it again. Cleaning that is. Getting ready to start a new project. Two years ago we moved from our little tiny studio apartment into what is essentially a converted garage. We had a big job, as we cleaned, scraped, tiled, painted and floored the space to make it livable. But that was just half of it, turns out there is another section in the front that is still full of tools and materials that he and his brothers have been using for work for about 15 years now. The plan is that we will be able to utilize the space as a studio and work space.

Moral of the story however, is that after 15 years of storing and collections things from who knows where, you can imagine some of the interesting things we've come across in the cleaning stages, such as this funkadelic clock radio from 1970-something, as well this bird cage(???) which we have no idea how it possibly got here because as far as we know, no one has ever had a bird.
And some Cosmopolitan Magazines from 1995, American mags nonetheless. But I have to say that THE absolute best thing we found was this little book called Casa Pulita, or Clean House. While, sure its nice to have tips on how to remove stains, it is really the image on the cover that grabbed my attention. A typical scene in many Italian households, including that of my MIL. It really is telling how the woman is vacuuming while hubby just hangs out in the chair watching her, mind you there is a full basket of laundry behind her just waiting to be washed, dried, folded or ironed and put away. But you relax honey, I'll take care of it. So not only are women expected to be brave casalinghe but they are also expected to look sexy while doing it. 
Is it just me or does she look a little annoyed?
Of course when I pointed this out to my husband he says "see, that''s how its supposed to be, and then you come along and want to change everything" Thank goodness his sense of humor is one of things I feel in love with! 

However, I must say that it has been a bit of a battle between me and my IMIL over the years. She just doesn't understand why her son is helping around the house and why his shirts aren't nicely ironed and hanging in the closet. And I cannot hold a conversation with my SIL without somehow discussing the various and best methods of cleaning and laundering or how long it took her to wash, dry and iron the bed sheets and the pajamas. Yes, that’s right, she irons not just the bed sheets but the pajamas too. Because you see that is how a womens brava-ness is measured in this country. How precise are the ironed creases in the shirts, how shiny is the bathroom floor and how tasty is your sugo? One friend even told me that she got the ‘dust check’ once form her MIL, as in she wiped the table then checked her finger to see how dusty it was. OMG!!

This is incredibly difficult for me to understand since I was not raised this way.

Of course this is an incredibly loaded topic of gender roles, equality and the position of women in Italian society. I could go on for pages, but really just wanted to share this very funny perhaps slightly disturbing book cover with you, and yes the publishing date is 1996, but honestly, it could very well be revised and reprinted and still be very relevant to many Italian women even today.

So what is your opinion on the topic? Are women making too big of a deal out of this?


  1. Very interesting post Sara! I am so nervous because the mother in law is coming to our house this weekend and our fridge & cupboard are empty (we are having a TON of groceries delivered this weekend). I was telling Antonio "Your mother is going to think I don't feed you". When in actuality she will probably check the closet!

    I do not know where to start either with the gender roles here in Italy, because it is a heavy topi, and so far away from the way I was raised. I am just thankful I fell in love with a man who does not fall into that category either. He loves to cook & clean which makes me very happy.

    By the way, you could have a fun project making that birdcage look antique! And that radio is rad rad!

  2. Better get to that ironing board Christy!!! LOL! Oh well what can we do, in the end we just have to be grateful that we have met the exception not the rule!

    I was thinking about what I could do with that bird cage!! We'll see! And yes I do love the radio, now I just have to figure out if it works!

  3. Hahaha... Had to borrow that photo and publish on facebook, hope you don't mind?! Simply wonderful... ;)
    Agree on the radio, very nice!!

  4. Don't mind at all H! Glad you shared it! :)


Thanks for your comment! I always look forward to hearing from my reader! It will just take a second and I will get your comment posted!

Don't be Shy! Share!