If you're a woman who has at some point dated a man, then you will be very aware of the suspense that comes from one important event. Nope, not meeting his parents, and definitely not meeting his friends. Let me instead set the scene: one singular pillow. Suspiciously dark sheets. A stack of washing up. I'm of course talking about the first visit to his home.
In Love Is Blind season 3, Zanab Jaffrey encounters this very moment in fiancé Cole's apartment. "Should I be scared?" she says as she tentatively walks in. "It doesn't smell bad, that's one big thing."
"Where's like, one clean spot?" Cole jokes back, before admitting. "It's...dirty."
While his sheets are in fact white, the floor's messy, the dishes are dirty, and there are literal flies in the toilet. Love Is Blind viewers were shocked to see the state of it, with one person on Twitter saying: "Cole, you knew you might potentially be bringing your future wife home and you left your apartment like this?"
Another said: "Cole’s apartment is disgusting. His apartment is her future if she marries him. Constantly cleaning up behind an adult."
— ask me about my cats 🍁 (@mrfweebs) October 26, 2022
— AnonymousCapricorn (@MsAnit_Nameerf) October 28, 2022
It goes without saying that not every guy is going to have Jason Oppenheim's appreciation of aesthetics, and it's unrealistic to expect someone's home environment to be spick and span all the time. But what this scene does illustrate is the wider problem that women often face in heterosexual relationships: of constantly looking, and picking up, after men.
Why should it always be down to women to create a nice home? Why are we the ones who buy the rugs, plump the cushions, load the dishwasher? This emotional labour is tiresome, and often gets overlooked as value-add in our society.
Also, it's become so normalised to accept and even joke about this imbalance. As Zanab puts it in her confessional, "Cole's apartment has 'boy' written all over it. He lives as I would expect any 26-year-old guy to live." My group chat is often filled with friends' tales of going back to a man's house, only to find a duvet with no cover on. A cutlery drawer with one fork.
As someone else on Twitter put it: "Zanab said Cole lives how she expects any 26 year old guy to live…26 is not a baby? That’s a grown man! A man leaving his apartment for vacation with dirty dishes, a ****-filled fly infested toilet, and dirty underwear on the table isn’t normal or a 'boy thing'."
At a very basic level, it shouldn't be down to Zanab to tell Cole he needs to clean up after himself. The onus on women to create a homely environment, where there's always toilet roll in the bathroom and food in the fridge, is outdated and frustrating to see. It shouldn't be up to us - Zanab included - to have to teach men the importance of keeping a clean and tidy home. Oh, and the necessity of more than one pillow.
Love Is Blind season three is available on Netflix now.
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