Imagine you chance upon one of those many online contests that promises an iPad if you correctly answer a question. You are wary about it first…..then rationalize that taking a look at the question requires no clicking, hence no malware headache (deep down you know it’s the chintzy pleasure you derive from taking potshots at the intellectually challenged questions notorious to such online forums). They show you a picture of a studio-like room that looks like a place a hobo would vehemently refuse to live in. The carpet is a spectrum of varying shades of black peppered with teensy specks of beige, reminding you how it all began. There are plates and bowls strewn across making a random pattern…..maybe the question is to figure the pattern out….you look more intently and notice that the plates are soiled with dried remnants of at least a two day old curry and bowls contain what looks like soggy disfigured cereal. Two wooden chairs, whose frail legs are the only parts visible, are brimming with a motley of papers, shopping bags with groceries peeping out and a wet sticky towel. Although ‘Yuck!’ is all you can fathom looking at the grotesque image, you are strangely interested in knowing what lies beyond. In the heat of curiosity, you don’t realize that you clicked on ‘continue’ to read the question:
The occupants of the room shown in the picture can be best described as ————— a) Boys or b) Girls
Not many of us would’ve taken more than a heartbeat to judge which gender is capable of this massacre, all the while probably chiding ourselves for being gullible yet again, but mildly comforted that the equilibrium of the iPad contest system remains unperturbed.
It is fascinating how we categorically associate the lack of scruples about cleanliness to the male gender, considering that we live in a time when men and women have reasonably similar reasons for their shoddiness, what with smothering work schedules that leave just enough time to unwind and socialize and not fret about which room to vacuum in the weekend. While it is true that traditionally, house-cleaning was entirely a feminine turf, we grew up in households where it was drilled into us that the ability to maintain a tidy room wasn’t a function of gender. Yet, when we break-free of the shackles of sweet home and start an independent life as students or employees, more often than not, pictures of mens’ apartments serve as prototypes for online contests. There could be two ways of looking at this, kinda like the chicken and egg approach-whether the historical license given to men to be dirty is the cause or the result of their relative lackadaisical outlook towards anything that begins with neat, unless it’s alcohol. Methinks that social conditioning has gone a long way in cajoling men into their lazy cocoons and yanking women out of theirs.The society doesn’t ‘expect’ men to fuss about tidying up, hence most of them choose not to. Given a choice, it is human tendency to pick the one involving the least amount of work. On the other hand, the concept of cleanliness has been indoctrinated into the female psyche so much so that even women use it as a criterion to judge the rest of their clan. They feel a passive pressure to maintain a standard of neatness or risk being a subject of ridicule. This doesn’t portend of course that men are callous about living in a clean environment. Most of them lend themselves to this noble cause, sometimes to an obsessive level, when they have a family of their own and finally realize that dirty dishes shall remain so, unless picked up and that gender stereotypes can salvage them only this far. So the next time you step into an impeccably clean room, you know that it’s the result more of social pressure then an innate love affair with cleanliness.