There’s a poor woman with a 5-alarm crisis writing in to Slate. You see, when she has large dinner parties, the women offer to help with the dishes and the men don’t.
Whenever I host large dinner parties, only the women offer to help with dishes. I appreciate this, but when I take them up on their offer, there’s a gender imbalance in the kitchen I’m uncomfortable with. I sometimes end up refusing because I hate the optics of it: The men sit around drinking, while the women wash up. I’d like the men to help more, but I don’t want to ask any friends and guests to clean up if they haven’t offered. I’m hosting a Friendsgiving, and some people will bring their own dishes or booze, so I don’t even know if it’s appropriate to ask for help if they’ve contributed something to dinner. Is there a way around this cleanup issue, or am I forever doomed to do all the dishes by myself the next morning?
Wow, that’s a real First World Problem she has there. There are plenty of women willing to help her do dishes, but she hates the “optics of it.” Of course, since it’s Slate, the woman answering the questions essentially suggests she nag the men into fixing her non-problem problem. Maybe she should just nag whatever unfortunate man is stuck with her since any man hooked to a woman worried about the “optics” of how many women are cleaning dishes has got to be horrible to live with. He signed up for that duty, but the rest of his friends didn’t.
Oh, and the issue isn’t the dishes. Depending on how you were raised or the culture you grew up in, a man may be just as likely to help with the dishes. It’s the whole idea that this sour woman is creating a problem because something bothers her feminist sensibilities. Can you imagine a guy sitting around going, “Gee, the four of us have been out here building this barbeque pit all afternoon and all the ladies have done is brought us lemonade. What about the ‘optics’ of 4 guys out here in the hot sun, mortaring these bricks without a single woman sweating with us? “
So, with that in mind, here’s my advice: do the dishes yourself; do them with whoever wants to help you; buy yourself a dishwasher or just do the whole event with paper plates and plastic silverware you can throw away afterward. Do anything but nag a bunch of friends who brought food and wine over to your place just because they’re male and you apparently have so little of importance going on in your life that you’re down to worrying about optics.