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Malaysian Alien


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Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I Wear The Pants In This House

It occured to me that 50% of my readers who read “Readers, I Have A Problem” think that I am having the smaller cut in my relationship with Alex since I am expected to do the laundry, cook, vacuum, wash the dishes and even paint the damn living room in “Lemon Juice” yellow. The remaining 50% thinks that is my responsibility since I am a woman.

Well here’s some news for you - I wear the pants in this house.

I remember as a small wee child, my mother did not sit me on her knees. She made me sit next to her, as an equal. An equal because I was born a female, just like my mother. So I sat next to her and not on her.

“Remember. You will grow up and study hard, so you can get yourself a job and your own money. You have to be free in order to be happy and you will never be free if you depend on a man,”

That’s quite a lot of words for a young child to comprehend. But I grew up with just that. She constantly reminded me that being a female gives me no excuse to be lazy or dumb. Or both.

Perhaps my generation is very different from my mother’s and my granny’s. My maternal grandfather migrated to Malaysia to seek a new future and fortune. He had a wife who could not keep her young children alive and as a result, my grandfather sailed back to China and came back with my grandmother. She was his 2nd wife and was left in charge of managing the household and keeping all the children alive and breathing.

My mother had issues with my paternal grandmother. I think many Chinese daughter-in-laws have issues with their mother-in-laws, so my mother’s relationship with my grandmother is nothing too surprising. So now do you see why my mother sat me down at the staircase with an ice lolly, whispering to me all her pains and woes as a fellow woman.

And I had all those shit thrown at me before I even menstruate!

My mother saw working independently from the household and earning her own keep as a way to keep her sanity and remain married to my father. She still threatens to divorce him every now and then but she cannot possible live without her driver. So do you see now why I do not think it is a woman’s place to do all the house chores?

Plus I had a Swedish boyfriend who believed in equality between the sexes. This means I placed my own order in a restaurant and carried my own shopping victories in the form of 3 bags or maybe 4 on a day I am lucky. It also meant that Henrik ironed his own clothes and washed the dishes if I cooked. I felt it was a fair deal, although I suspect not many Asians would see it as chivalrous when the man walks around empty handed while the woman limps with her three bags of potatoes, onions, mince beef and spaghetti.

In my household, my father got up at half pass 6 a.m. to make us children breakfast when we were schooling. That meant he fried the egg until it was cooked on the outside, yet had a runny yolk inside for me. I can no longer remember what my father made for my brothers. It also meant that he was the one who babysat me when I was under 6 years old and had a carefree and brat-free life with my father. My brother did not arrive for the first four years of my young life, then the younger brat when I was seven years old.

The maid took care of the household when we were young. They swept, mopped, dusted, washed, cooked and cleaned. The maids are still taking care of the household now that we are grown. My mother worked twenty years ago. She is still working in her mini projects since her retirement from teaching seven years ago. All you people out there who needs to buy your bosses’ or future mother-in-laws’ hearts please give me a shout. Mom’s harvesting and selling best grade bird’s nest.

I work for my upkeep. Alex does not pay for my make-up, facials nor tampons. I contribute half to the household expenditure and thus, I expect Alex to participate in our household arrangements. It was understood that I cooked and cleaned last year because I had spare time and I did not contribute towards our household expenditure. What I could contribute then was my energy and time, which I did then in the form of taking over the household chores.

This year is absolutely different. I am working for my business via the internet and I have the freelance writing to do. On top of those tasks, I have a book to write and this blog to maintain. All the time which was used to wash and clean last year is replaced with lots of hours in front of the iBook, writing.

  • Writing for my business.

  • Writing for my freelance.

  • Writing for my book project and writing for ANNN.

That’s a whole load of writing to do in a span of 24 hours.

There is an equation for love in every relationship. Some do it 70:30 with the man paying 70% of all expenditure and the woman 30%. Some do it 100:0 and the most common and most logical is a 50:50. This financial equation is correlated to the household chore ratio.

Womenfolk did not have a problem with their love equation 100 years ago. Men went out to work, brought home the bacon and women stayed home, doing housework and keeping the house in order. Things have changed since then, from my grandmother being the silent 2nd wife to a rich business man with rubber plantations, a medical hall and a textile shop to my mother, who trained as a teacher in the 70s, attending fancy tea parties and worked until her retirement to me, a 30 year old woman who most would consider to be quite fulfilled with education and career, yet remain lost and is searching for her equation.

It is safe therefore to conclude that the more a man contributes financially to the household, the less he is expected to help with the day-to-day running of family life. Likewise the more a woman earns and is independent of the man, the more she is able to demand of her partner to contribute to the upkeep of the household.

And I do go out with my cavewoman club every morning to hunt for my bacon. In the evening when I come home, I am equally as tired as the man in the house. Why should society perceive that it is my role and sole responsiblity to dice the onions, garlic, chicken and vegetables while Alex watches pornography on the internet while waiting for his dinner?

I don’t think so.

I do not see why a woman has to do all the household chores and go to work at the same time while her partner cavorts around the house playing in PS2 after he finishes work. No wonder the average modern day woman is lost, confused and beaten before her 10 a.m. coffee break. She is trying to juggle the traditional woman role (like my granny’s) and her modern day expectation (like me).

What is your equation?

Sometimes when I am real tired while I lay in bed, I realise that perhaps women brought this upon themselves with the start of the feminism movement in the 60s. It fucked with everyone’s minds and now we women are left trying to find a balance between home life and working away from home. Screw those power shoulder pads of the 80s and Martha Stewart.

I am just a woman. Not superman. I need some support and help as I waddle through this. A little bit of understanding and tenderness is greatly appreciated.

But back to what I was saying earlier. Where was I? Oh yes.


I wear the pants in this house and here is my proof.

Small Talk
Okay, that's it. There is that much that a girl can take.

Read this slowly. I do not look like that chick from FIR. Yes, some of my friends' mothers remarked that I resembled her. Two of my closest girlfriends said the same. But I have checked this FIR chick out and I have examined my features. I can safely confirm that I do not have an uncanny resemblance with that rock chick, other than the hair.

The forehead.

Okay. Maybe the eyes.

But that's it.

The next person to compare me to her will be skinned and made into a warm cover for my sofa. You have been warned.

* In case you think that I am a tyrant in my house, I'll like to say that I share my pants with Alex :) The title won't be as evocative if it was "I Wear The Pants And Share It With Alex In This House".

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The title won't be as evocative is it was "I Wear The Pants And Share It With Alex In This House".

:) Please delete this comment.

1:38 am  


PS2 shall not be condemned and to be blamed for when girls, I mean, one of the partners does all the chores, while the other focuses on fondling on the analog sticks.

It is the discipline and self control. FYI, I didn't play PS2 last night. Feel proud for my momentary abstinence.

And also, I shall remain my stand on the fence. *winks*

4:32 am  

Thank you! Really appreciate it. Sometimes we can't see our grammar mistakes because we have sat with the article for way too long and became too familiar (read: skim over the article insteaf of critically analyzing it).

Remain on the fence as long as you want. Enjoy it because you will have to choose sides when you get a gf =) hehehehe....... till then, fondle those sticks as much as you wish.

8:26 am  

Unfortunately, while fair is fair, it's an ideal and you have to be fairly anal to precisely measure time and effort spent on each activity, and then compare it to what a person earns for it to be 50-50!
Me personally, I think it is fair if you earn more and theoretically work harder, then you do less housework. But... some things I just HATE doing! I never do the washing up. I hate washing the shower. But I love vacuuming, laundry, and I'll do the sink and toilet. Whether or not that is technically fair... at least I'll do the crap I like and he does the crap he doesn't necessarily like... but has to do anyway ^_~

12:09 pm  

otto, writers are usually very hungry readers. so i'm curious about what you read. or your top tens.


2:15 pm  

I share similar sentiments. The equation cannot be really measured... and if it was measured (like by a couple I know) it would be miserable. At least to me.

I much prefer covering for each other. Isn't that what relationships are about? Helping out and complimenting each other?

We go extra miles for someone we love and complete our partners' tasks if they are unable to do so.

Time changes things and circumstances changes as time passes by. Flexibility is essential.

I love all books by Roald Dahl and Bill Bryson. Finished almost all children books by RD and starting on the adult books.

Still trying to complete "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson and started on "Neither Here Nor There" by the same. I am sure that I will finish his whole collection in time.

Obviously I love books written by female authors, esp when they touch female issues. There are some autobiographies that I enjoy like of the Dalai Lama's and Phoolan Devi, the bandit queen.

Read the whole Candace Bushnell series, almost all books at least twice. Also completed both books by Wei Hui (Shanghai Baby and Marrying Buddha).

The opening page that I love best is from The Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan). The initial three paragraphs summised maternal love the whole world over.

These are the ones that I can think of... there are lots more and I read at my whim. I especially love astronomy and natural history (like "A Short History of Nearly Everything") and stories about the modern day woman.

6:09 pm  

Otto, my friend once told me

"We share the one big skirt."

yup. it came out from the mouth of a man.

7:19 pm  

Your friend is very wise. Skirts have better air circulation.

11:30 am  

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