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‘Guilt-tripping misogynist crap’: Opinion in the Guardian tells of one feminist’s anguish over hiring female cleaner

‘Guilt-tripping misogynist crap’: Opinion in the Guardian tells of one feminist’s anguish over hiring female cleaner
Author Sally Howard pondered in the Guardian whether she can have a “clean feminist conscience” if she hires a female cleaner, and people responded with pure shock at the privileged issue.

Howard lamented she used to return home to “a clean kitchen and bathroom and a drenching sense of guilt.” Hiring a female to clean her home weighed on her “feminist conscience,” so she was inspired to go “undercover” as a cleaner to learn more about the job firsthand for a new book. Working in office buildings and hotels, she says, “I picked used tampons off bathroom carpets and scrubbed bathtub tidemarks and sauces spattered across kitchen walls.”

She goes on to demand cleaners be paid more, but she admits that paying her own cleaner well above the national average still wasn’t enough to alleviate her guilt. 

“Did I find I could hire a cleaner with a clean conscience? No, but I found I could ease my feminist conscience by scrubbing my own toilet,” she announces at the end of her Guardian piece, which is meant to promote her book ‘The Home Stretch’ on the same subject. 

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The author says she was also inspired to fire her cleaner as some sort of woke message to her three-year-old son. 

“I did not want him to see the labour of some women as less worthwhile than the labour and leisure of other women and men. Middle-class women’s emancipation from housework has come at the cost of reinscribing poor women’s ties to it,” she writes.

Howard’s discovery of self through scrubbing toilets and taking a job away from someone has gone viral, with many not sharing in her suffering and criticizing her for undervaluing women’s labor.

The Times columnist Janice Turner slammed Howard’s piece as “guilt-tripping misogynist crap” in a Twitter thread where she mentions her own mother being a cleaner for years. Many others supported her in saying the article shames household workers.

Others also wondered why Howard presumes in her piece a cleaner will be a woman, and therefore a threat to her feminist conscience — the author does mention a disproportionate number of women are cleaners, but she makes no mention of any attempt to hire a male to do the job. 

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