Kirstie Allsopp appears to have made a new year resolution to stir up debate, with her assertion that working women love doing housework and domestic chores. She has come out and stated that housework is therapy for women.
The British TV presenter is a bit like a cheaper version of Martha Stewart. She is all for making things yourself and her shows Kirstie’s Homemade Home, Kirstie’s Handmade Britain and Kirstie’s Crafty Christmas demonstrate ways to do craft and baking projects without spending much money. Previous to her energetic expertise with hot glue guns and leftovers, she co-hosted the real estate show Location, Location, Location.
Allsopp, 42, is what’s known in England as a “jolly hockey sticks” type, all enthusiasm and gung-ho. She has now turned this famous attribute of hers toward giving advice on mental health. She has said that the repetitive tasks all women everywhere perform every day, are “enormously therapeutic” and that knowing everything is all neat and clean and tidy, in fact, is what “keeps her (generic woman) sane.” Although she has nine TV shows, three books, a homeware range and an app carrying her name and requiring her attention, Allsopp says that she doesn’t do the ironing because she has to, but if she gets the chance, she finds it therapeutic.
The clue there is in the “if she gets the chance.” As a wife and mother to two children and two step-children, Kirstie Allsopp could easily be accused of hypocrisy here, given the demands of the career which has made her so well-known and financially successful. If she loves washing, ironing and cleaning so much, one could argue, why doesn’t she stay home and do it all day long? Instead, she argues, that she hates the whole “me time” thing, as well as women who harp on about needing an identity. This is easy to say when your own identity is an expanding media brand which generates good income. To the harpers on, however, Allsopp has firm words, “For God’s sake, just get on with it.”
Unsurprisingly, responses to the soothing mantra, that domestic chores are women’s secret pleasure, have been intense. The inequality in sharing housework is a major source of conflict in many relationships, and studies continually prove that women are still doing many hours more than men, no matter how long their working day. For Allsopp though, and her “many, many working mum friends” having to take on the lion’s share of the menial tasks in the home is a blessing.
She goes on to celebrate the virtues of the school run, despite, sadly, not being able to manage it herself more than twice a week. As for fitting in a keep fit routine within the parameters of domestic duties and outside work, why not “do a couple of circuits of the block in the middle of the night” as Kirstie does? There’s really no excuse, ladies, for letting standards slip.
Some have wondered if Allsopp is making a play for the crown of “Domestic Goddess” so long-held by Nigella Lawson. The two are not dissimilar in looks, curvaceousness and flirty personality, although Nigella has more of an aristocratic mien, whereas Kirstie is definitely a nice, middle-class gal. Liking her has become a bit of a guilty pleasure for some fans, who never realized how much they longed to make stencil shapes on their walls or crochet a cushion. Some of these would also agree that there is some satisfaction to be found in housework. Having a clean house and a pile of done ironing is a result. But it is forever temporary. The battle against dirt, disorder, germs and grunge will never cease. The boring monotony of chores and the inability to ever surmount them is what makes them so generally loathed.
The word “housewife” is not one that many women are particularly comfortable with these days either, but it is one that Kirstie Allsopp defends with vigor. Last month she launched an attack on use of the word in a negative way, and said anyone who called themselves a feminist would never be so rude.
Over the Christmas period, she was vocal about those who had lost power to their homes due to winter storms, and blamed them for not having enough of the “Blitz spirit.” Kirstie clearly likes the wartime mentality of make do and mend, but that was in a time of necessity and people had no choice. Calling folk “spoilt” as she did, for not being able to cook, light or heat their homes over the holiday, was pretty harsh.
Now it could be speculated that if Sigmund Freud and Kirstie Allsopp had been alive at the same time and met up for coffee and (homemade) cookies, she could have answered his most famous question for him. Indeed she could have spared the Viennese psychoanalyst years of research: “What do women want?” Why, housework! And plenty of it! Housework is therapy enough for women, and all they need is a bottle of bleach and a toilet brush to feel sane and happy. That’s the gospel according to Kirstie Allsopp.
By Kate Henderson