Writer A.J. Jacobs did everything his wife said for one month. And what he learned falls somewhere between "hacky-annoying" and "mildly depressing." Women be doing housework!
Jacobs, an editor at Esquire, is best known for his book The Year of Living Biblically, in which he followed Biblical rules for a year. Continuing with this schtick, The Daily Mail has an excerpt from Jacobs' book My Experimental Life, which comes out this week in the U.K. It's a tough read, and not only because the Daily Mail has changed all of the nouns the American Jacobs uses to British slang (this is barely an exaggeration — "loo paper," "torch," "pressie," "rubbish tip."), but because Jacobs falls into the easy trap of condescending to women under the guise of being awed by them. By doing everything his wife says for a month, Jacobs' big epiphany is that she does more housework than he does. Seriously, that's basically it. And in the process, he says stuff like THIS:
"Maybe that's why women do more housework. They're better at it. They were born with the tidiness gene."
Ugh. In this excerpt, basically no hack female stereotype goes un-dragged-out. His wife wants a present every day, and flowers. She tells him that if he makes dinner every night they can have sex every night, etc. She asks of him nothing remotely indicative of her actually having independent desires or a personality. The whole thing could basically have been written in the early 1960s, except for the "twist" ending — instead of finishing the entire experiment at the one-month mark as planned, Jacobs decides to go on changing the loo paper and refilling the soap dispensers whenever he notices they need it. You know, like a normal person. Progress!