Friday, September 21, 2012


Nancy and her mother typically make all of the major purchases at our home, and it's rare that I'm included in the decision making process; I really don't need to be. Saturday was an exception, and one that I enjoyed since I had the opportunity to demonstrate my commitment to Nancy, to purchase something that I needed, and, as a bonus, do a bit of evangelizing. I needed a new iron so Nancy and Sue took me to see what was available.

Assuming that the women were going to use the iron, the saleswoman directed her presentation of the iron's features to them. Sue interrupted her well-rehearsed pitch and told her that neither she nor Nancy did any ironing and that she should direct her comments to me--since "he does all the ironing." The saleswoman seemed taken aback but, somewhat uncomfortably, began to direct her pitch to me.

I was proud to demonstrate a real knowledge of irons. When we made a purchase, the saleslady said that she wished her husband, now retired and at home, would do some ironing. All of us said that he should and would if she insisted. I told her that I enjoyed doing housework and that doing it gave me a feeling of accomplishment.While she initially saw it as unusual that a man would be the decision maker about the purchase of an iron, she seemed to appreciate the many possibilities of men doing housework and was very accommodating, telling me that she'd appreciate knowing how the new iron worked out.

One of the FLR issues raised by this anecdote is that men and, unfortunately, women adopt the gender roles assigned by patriarchy. There is a patriarchy-inspired focus on women when domestic items are involved, but this is just not the case anymore. We all need to free ourselves from these gender stereotypes.Especially in female-led relationships, men may well be doing the ironing. and the sooner everyone recognizes this, the better.

The same applies in other areas.Waiters and even waitresses, for example, routinely assume that he, not SHE, is picking up the check. In more and more cases women outearn men and will be picking up the check for a dinner out. By doing so, women send a powerful statement concerning gender roles. In the same way, by letting me select the iron and directing the saleswoman to address her pitch exclusively to me, Nancy not only addressed a practical matter but made a strong statement concerning male-female relationships.

There is a bottom line here; couples in FLRs need to "come out" with their relative roles and responsibilities.


Kammi said...

Nice post, close to my heart. A year ago I went through much the same thing in Macy's. My wife was going to treat me to a new iron for my birthday. I was examining the various choices when the saleslady came to help. I was holding the top of the line Rowenta when she commented that my wife might find that one too heavy. She said "no problem", he's the one getting it for his birthday present. Like it dear?"
I answered that I did, and my wife, ever one to humiliate me, said "Good, I know you're anxious to get home and do that pile of ironing I left for you." The saleslady was too shocked to say anything.

Nancy and Dennis said...

Kammi -
I also picked a Rowenta iron and am very pleased with it; I enjoy ironing even more than before with this wonderful iron. Salespeople need to realize that men, too, can be the real customer when it comes to things like irons. Consider that you provided a "teachable moment" here. Next up for me is a new vacuum cleaner, as my old one is on its last legs. Enjoy your new iron!

Anonymous said...


Would love to hear more.

I liked this:

" I answered that I did, and my wife, ever one to humiliate me, said "Good, I know you're anxious to get home and do that pile of ironing I left for you." "

Dear Nancy and Dennis, I enjoyed the post on a husband taking his wife's full name for social purposes. But the idea does make me squirm a bit. I would love to, but I think I would feel too humiliated.

It is a a hot idea, though.

Perhaps I could start on line by signing myself

Mr Clare Doncaster (Jim, spouse of Ms Clare Doncaster)

Kathy said...

ilkowspNancy and Dennis

In today's world there is no reason why a man should be ashamed of being the person who does the ironing.If you look there are now quite a few stay at home men who make great fathers and husbands.

If anything I am embarrised for Nancy. Although my mom has passed away, there is no way another woman would have such direct control over my man. John is expected to be polite and respectful to other women, but he takes his marching orders from me, no other.

There is something wrong with a house hold when a wife allows her mother to have too much influence.

Love, Kathy

Nancy and Dennis said...

Kammi -
A man's taking the woman's name in marriage is being considered and adopted by many couples and, perhaps surprisingly, it's the man in many cases who suggests taking her name. Now if the idea of taking her name would make you "squirm a bit" or make you "feel humiliated" then you should question your entire disposition concerning a female-led relationship. We feel that a man having a subordinate role in a relationship is nothing to be ashamed of; rather, it should be something that he should feel proud of. Additionally, a female-led relationship is a 24/7 commitment, not something to be taken on when one gets the urge.

Nancy and Dennis said...

Dear Ms. Kathy -

1) We agree with your first statement that men need not be ashamed about doing the ironing, or any household chore, or in fact with being in a female-led relationship. We don't think we communicated any contrary sentiment in our posting.

2) Nancy's mother resides with us and has always been a respected - no, revered! - person within our family. She is not "another woman" but someone I deeply respect and love. Nancy is in charge of our relationship and household, but in her absence I defer to her mother as I would to Nancy; she is in full agreement with this. The women have an arrangement that is workable and, while Sue may give me instruction on some matters, on others she refers me to my wife. None of us feels there is anything wrong with the arrangement we have; it's another twist on a good thing.

Nancy and Dennis said...

Additional response to Ms. Kathy:

We have a matriarchy, and in a matriarchy ALL women are respected and revered. I have no no qualms about obeying Sue or any woman in the family. Nancy expects as much, and if I didn't, I know there would be consequences.

Anonymous said...

Jim Doncaster

One way to start adopting your wife's name in a gradual, non-threatening manner is to start subscribing to magazines, etc. using your 'new name'. For example, I subscribe to periodicals using my first name and my wife's last name. Given how many magazines sell their subscription lists, I now receive tons of mail in my adopted name. The bonus, over time my new name really feels like 'me'.

Anonymous said...

I expect males wil start talking to each other describing all the functions and how ones iron is better than the anothers because of so and so function.


Nancy and Dennis said...

Femsup - Why not? I know other men in female-led marriages who, like me, do the housework. When we get together the conversation often centers on sharing hints and short cuts to make our work more efficient, including how well a new iron performs. And my Rowenta performs well!

Anonymous said...

Yes I applaud that! It not only means ideas are shared about making Womyns lives easier but it gives psychological boosts and afirmation to the males helping them revel in their role.


Sam White said...

I've recently changed from a cordless to a corded iron, although the wire does get in the way i prefer that it stays at the right temperature rather than having to keep put it back on the stand to heat up.

In the store my girlfriend happily and quite rightly announced to the sales lady "He does the ironing and hes buying the new one"


Kammi said...

Anon - you wrote that you would like to hear more. You can contact me at
Nancy & Dennis - Yes, I do try to stand up (if that isn't a contradictory term) to the fact I am completely submissive to my wife but still, when you are in a crowded store and my wife yells across two aisles that she has found the iron I'm looking for, I do get a little squemish. It's not fun to be laughed at. I'll try to do better.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, thanks that is a good idea. I shall try that.

Any other ideas for breaking in my new name, apart from using it for magazine subscriptions, would be welcome.

I am not ashamed of doing this. It just takes getting used to. I am proud to be Mr Clare Doncaster. My maiden name was Jim Stynes. I look forward to taking on my spouse's identity in this submissive way.

Molly said...

I love ironing for a man. It is woman's work, guys!!