Of all the annoying if not actually harmful media tropes around sex, the one which sexualizes housework is the one which I find the most downright yucky. Ugh, yuckity yuck yuck.
Allow me to explain, Gentle Reader, for this is quite an elusive, insiduous trope, not as in-your-face as those other famous ones about bossy-shrill-career-woman-needing-strong-silent-man-to-find-true-love(and subjugation) (though in fairness, I guess we have Shakespeare & co to thank for that), or rich-businessman-with-dead-heart-needs-chirpy-annoying-pretty-girl-to-love-forever-and-have-five-kids, or basically without-true-love-and-steady-partner-you-are-nothing.
This is the one in which good old sex is shown be sparked and aided by the rough, dirty, smelly, leftover-food-encrusted tangle of life in a bustling household. So, I am not speaking of Beyonce playing a sexed-up immaculate housewife, fake-masturbating to her vacuum cleaner (though I guess that could be seen as as extreme example). I am talking of scenes in which you, the gentle, bird-brained viewer is encouraged to imagine sex taking place right now, right here, amongst these dirty dishes and kids’ clothes strewn everywhere. And while the intention of these scenes might be good, a refreshing antidote, say, to the extreme and often ridiculous romanticization and glamorization of sex which is usually depicted on our silver screens-but you know what? I prefer the glamour. Please leave the dishes alone.
90210. Annie and Dixon’s mom is washing the dishes, with yellow rubber gloves up to her elbows. There is dishwashing foam everywhere. Her date silently encircles her from behind. The nameless mom looks surprised, then ecstatic. The camera zooms on the rubber yellow gloves and food-flecked foam. Romantic music. Their faces disappear from view. The viewer knows sex is taking place, right there, amongst the smell of the hot water on yellow rubber and foam and leftover food. The viewer barfs. The mom moans.
Seventh Heaven. The household of a priest and his wife who looks creepily like Jane Seymour’s ugly sister and their seven kids. Mom is cleaning up the breakfast table. She carries the dishes to the sink, and turns on the faucet. The sink becomes plugged and full of filthy dishwater. She drops to the floor, on her back, crawls into the cabinet under the sink, and begins tinkering with the pipes. Husband-priest walks in the kitchen. He too drops to the floor and crawsls into the cabinet space under the kitchen sink, apparently to help his wife. But the proximity of bodies is too much even for a man of god and his wife. Right there, stretched out on the kitchen floor, their heads inside the cabinet which holds the drainpipes, right under the drainpipes, their lips lock and they begin to moan. The viewers and their children (yes, this is a family show) look on, horrified if not actually scarred for life.
The Gentle Reader will undoubtedly be able to come up with further examples. If you do, please do me a favour and alert me, so I know what to avoid in my future watching. Thank you.