Ironing is not feminist

School has started back and the air is a bit biting and everyone has resting bitch-faces and streamy eyes, from the cold wind and the desperate effort to hide their sadness at the slow death of summer. And the terrible nut-brown sun damage, which looked good when you were flouncing about on some European pier, sand-flecked and lithe, probably wearing some white kaftan and golden sandals with an unclipped pedicure and the WHOLE summer laid out before you like a smorgasbord of warm potential, now looks like you need to exfoliate better.

And SCHOOL! Rules! Deadlines! Mean new teachers who are making you feel very bad because you don’t iron your kids’ shirts, and so they have taken you aside and told you that if your kid looked smarter, he might behave better, and you glance at your kid, and he is in some sort of tiny, greyed shirt with blackened cuffs and lots of free school dinner down it, a shirt that has never been properly introduced to either Vanish or an iron, and you turn back to the teacher and say

“I have political objections to ironing. But I take your point.”

Because this:

1. Creases don’t really matter, not really. Some things get creased immediately after being ironed. So, it is a circular waste of time.

2. Irons can burn you, and ironing boards take up a lot of space in small flats, which would be better served housing a pile of books or a painting easel or a camping tent.

3. If all women believed that ironing was important, and they spent time everyday doing it for themselves and their kids, then they would have less time to read, and to talk, and to write. They would stay inside more, and do more unpaid work. Plus, some might do their husband’s shirts because they think that they already have the ironing board out (where the books should really be) and it would be both kind and expedient. And I just cannot support that kind of sneaky, insidious domestic slavery. I bet you they would never have said it if I was a man.

The teacher also pointed out that Unnamed Badly Behaved Son’s trousers were very short. Which was undeniably the case, well above the skinny little ankles, but as I said back to him, he dresses himself, and he should be able to make those decisions about his trousers and their fit and appropriateness, because he is growing to be an autonomous adult who won’t have his mother make those kinds of aesthetic decisions for him. She’ll be reading in creased clothes, somewhere. But it didn’t wash, and so now I am to be found thinking up ways to get the shirts to look less old and crumpled without compromising on my steadfast anti-ironing beliefs. Things like arranging them on hangers as soon as they exit the washing machine, and shaking them out frantically and attaching tiny weights onto the hem so the creases disappear using the laws of physics.

Not really about the tiny magnets, but it is actually quite clever, if only I knew how to sew and stuff.As I tell my dear husband, I can’t be good at everything, or I would be unbearable and the boys would never leave.

Anyway, if the only thing standing in the way of getting Unnamed Son to behave was creases and flappy pants, then I could have nailed this parenting thing years ago. Seriously.

So Otis turned one two days ago, and we had terrible, tasteless Mulberry Street pizzas and Colin the Caterpillar cake in the garden. Here we are, happy about Colin’s thick epidermis and so pleased that Otis was able to attend his birthday with his head still attached to his body.


Because, the day before his birthday, a wall-sized mirror fell down on him and smashed, trapping him under samurai-sword-sized shards of glass and slashing his lips open. Many A&E hours later, two doctors, one plastic surgeon, plenty of blood, much panic and guilty feelings later, he was ok and now healing very well. Thank you, NHS, for everything.

Here are some more Gozo photos, because there is nothing more galling than seeing where you were a few weeks ago, and realising you will never go back, and it is about to be grey and cold and miserable here until May.

IMG_1888 IMG_1902 IMG_1904 IMG_1908 IMG_2017 IMG_2030 IMG_2051 IMG_2077 IMG_2123 IMG_2143 IMG_2191

There was a lot of cliff-jumping and quite a bit of jelly-fish avoiding, and photos of Otis with an intact lip.

Here is Bradley Cooper strutting around in our street, filming a movie with Emma Thompson and just KNOWING he is stupidly handsome and lit well.


And the fairly crumpled-looking boys, about to start school again for the new school year, with no idea of the domestic challenges about to unfold for their Bradley Cooper-lusting mother.


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14 Responses to Ironing is not feminist

  1. I so totally agree about ironing. Although I’m generally not a fan of anything with polyester in it, I AM when it means I don’t have to iron my son’s poly-cotton school T-shirts and sweatshirts. Perhaps the school in question should think about making their uniform a little more parent-friendly (notice I didn’t say mother-friendly!)

    • theharridan says:

      Yes! Agreed entirely. They do tend to look like tiny clerical men, when they are in fact small boys who just want to climb a bloody tree.

  2. Jo says:

    I never iron anything, just hang it up straight out of the tumble drier and tend not to buy stuff that really needs it. Agree with all your points about ironing and feel most indignant for you that a teacher felt the need to comment about it! Glad Otis is ok, and that he had a nice birthday xx

    • theharridan says:

      This is very boring, but my washing cycle always leaves things a bit dry and therefore too creased. So the hanging out thing won’t work. But asking the cleaner nicely to iron the shirts seems to solve the problem. See – if someone gets paid to do it, it’s all good, in my book.

  3. Cath says:

    I never iron kids uniform shirts either. They just get shaken and folded. The boys new school has knitwear which doesn’t need ironing, which is much better. Will goes to college next year and I suspect that will require presentable uniform. Mind you, Will is nearly old enough to actually do ironing, which would solve the whole problem.

  4. Belinda says:

    Nobody irons these days!! I am so bad at ironing that many years ago I ironed a shirt for husband before a night out. He then asked me never to iron for him again. OK!

  5. Sonya says:

    The cheek of that teacher! I can’t believe she actually suggested that lack of ironing was correlated with a pupil’s behaviour. I iron about once a year, and never ironed school clothes for my daughters. I purposely buy clothes that don’t need ironing and/or put on hangers post-wash. My mother used to make me iron all of my father’s shirts until I went to Uni – I have been on a feminist ironing strike since.

    • theharridan says:

      I am still angry that he put it that way – pretty much blaming me for his behaviour, which is clearly RIDIC. I mean, I know it all comes down to the mother in the end, but can’t we at least wait until his inevitable future therapist blames me?

  6. Victoria says:

    I cannot believe it but I had EXACT same feminist ironing standoff episode this morning! I said to myself husband can do his own he is a grown up, shuffed his clothes as bottom of wardrobe (linen shirts included) it felt good! As for the boys (3) I took the huge pile of washed but creased (more creased than shredded wheat) and shook it a bit then wham bam shoved in drawers. I am nearly forty, I WILL NEVER IRON AGAIN! Except for the odd bit of mine! I do care terribly for my own things xx who needs an iron? I have multiple burns bordering on self harm look in my lower arms, obviously iron and wine combo not helpful, but at time it was only tiring to help me get through the ironing because who else would do it? I am delighted with the realisation today that I will prob never iron my family’s clothes again ! CANNOT BELIEVE someone else out there was feeling the same way on same day! I take my feminist stance and the iron is gone, went for drinks with friends instead! Gooood! Your boys were totally smart and handsome for school! I thought, isn’t it normal for growth spurt through summer hols and all kids I’m ankle swinging/too short cuffs etc etc in sept? Xx all best and so happy to not be alone in all this! Beautiful family you have xxx

  7. kerry says:

    M&S easy iron or crease resist shirts are my thing. I don’t iron anything except my own stuff as and when. WHOEVER has an ironing pile these days? What a total waste of time. And you are sadly right, I’m sure the teacher would never have mentioned it to Mark. Love your retort though.

  8. theharridan says:

    I should have been a bit meaner.

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