Women’s work

It’s funny: you can be married to someone for eight years before you find out he thinks women can’t caulk bathtubs.

I’ve been scraping the old paint off our bathroom ceiling in preparation for repainting. (It’s been peeling ever since shortly after we moved in, the previous owner having apparently used the wrong sort of paint.) This morning I put on a coat of primer and then decided, since we won’t be able to use the shower for at least a day anyway, that I might as well recaulk the bathtub while I was at it. So I’m happily scraping off the old, moldy caulk when James strolls past, sees what I’m doing and begins to freak out. He really does’t think I should be doing that. I had never said anything about messing with the caulk (actually I had, but he had been practising the husbandly art of not listening), and if the bathtub leaks it could cause a lot of problems for us.

I ask him why he thinks the bathtub is going to leak. Does he think, perhaps, that I am not going to do a good job? He hems and haws for a bit: “Caulking is a fiddly job, it’s very complicated.” Does he think, perhaps, that I have never caulked a bathtub before? “Well, no, have you?” he asks. “Yes I have, actually,” I say. “My daddy taught me how to do it. And it’s not complicated. Why didn’t you make this sort of fuss when I said I was going to scrape and repaint the bathroom ceiling?”

“Because painting isn’t that difficult,” he says. “Oh,” I say, “is it so easy that even a girl could do it?” He looks embarrassed, and I start to be amused. Over lunch, I tease him a bit about not thinking women can use a caulking gun, and he asks whether this is a Kentucky thing: “Can a real women caulk two bathtubs before breakfast?” Then he asks if I can please do the kitchen sink while I’m at it.


About emilyallwright

I'm an American living in England with my husband and small child. I'm interested in sustainable living and old-fashioned skills, detective fiction and folk music.
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