Dear Housemates of Our Radical Progressive Queer Co-op

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(Watch a live performance of this on my YouTube channel.)

In general living here has been a wonderful experience, however I have a few issues I would like to address:

  • I believe in our fragrance-free policy, for the sake of allergies and sensitive noses. Speaking of unwanted scents, I also believe in showers. They don’t have to be daily, especially if you’re not physically active. They don’t have to involve shampoo every time. But they should be in your schedule somewhere, preferably after dumpster diving on Tuesdays.
  • You are absolutely correct that neither shaving nor keeping your legs hairy is empowering to women unless its by choice. However, after you choose to shave your legs in the shower, please also choose to get that hair out of the freaking tub.
  • While it’s totally true that nobody’s sexual orientation should be enforced or coerced or made into law, we do have an enforced law in the bathroom: When you replace the toilet paper (or more accurately, if you replace the toilet paper), make sure it rolls over the top, not down below. I don’t want to go on a treasure hunt every time I take a poop.

 And please, leave a backup roll. While I fully embrace the clothing-optional atmosphere of our body-positive home, I don’t want to shimmy down the hall with my ass hanging out in an emergency dash for TP.
  • Invisibility is an important topic: Invisible minorities, femme invisibility, trans man invisibility in the mainstream media… Just because the mainstream can’t see oppression doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Similarly, just because you can’t see dirt on the stove, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Get those corners, please. Scrub under all the things on the counter. Take them off the counter and clean under them.
  • It is totally unfair for the “G” and the “L” of the acronym to get their rights first and put off everyone else’s rights for later. On that note, when I ask you to dust the living room, don’t wipe down the two most visible and easy-to-reach surfaces and then call it a day. No surface is dust-free until all surfaces are dust free. Don’t be a slacktivist with the Windex.
  • I get it–I’m disabled too. You’re out of spoons, I’m out of spoons… However, the kitchen is also out of spoons, and I did the dishes the last ten times. You can see my chore points clearly marked on our handy-dandy co-op whiteboard. (Which I’ll note, does not keep score for every time someone merely wiped a damp rag across the table one or two times, without even applying pressure or soap, and called that “cleaning”. My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. Likewise, that wash rag will intersect with soap or else you won’t clean a damn thing.)

By following these simple guidelines, I believe we can create a more loving, supportive, and radical living space for everyone. We might even have a few less cockroaches.

Sincerely,
Amy

 

Originally published on AmyDentata.com. Republished WITH PERMISSION MOTHERF*CKERS.

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37 Comments

  1. Thumb up 3

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    You know about spoons! I have lupus and it’s the only thing that makes people get it. I’m continually out of spoons and I’m THE ONLY ONE who cleans. It’s the most frustrating thing in the world.

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    You have managed to express every single roomie feeling I was too nervous to say out loud. If I watched you live I would have given you a standing ovation, so instead I’m enthusiastically shiver shimmying in a bus shelter.

  3. Thumb up 2

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    This!

    Also, if anyone in the NYC area is interested in living in an awesome radical progressive co-op (preferably somewhere in Brooklyn), let me know! I’m in dire need of a new place and I think this would be a kickass idea with the right people!!

    Any takers??

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    AHH YES
    I agree with so much of this!
    I’ve lived in a lot of group housing, from established collectives to poorhouses, and the most true thing I’ve ever learned is that if you are the cleanest person in a house, you will always be angry. I am that person, but I am trying to be more understanding. The ability and impulse to clean is very informed by upbringing. How a person’s parents or guardians kept their house(s) or enforced chores/overall cleanliness are huge parts of how a person lives with others and determines what they consider too dirty. People whose parents cleaned up after them never learned HOW to clean and don’t feel the same discomfort I feel when people are cleaning around them. People whose houses were always messy and whose parents never compelled them to clean, maybe because they were too tired after their 90 hour work week etc, don’t feel the impulse to clean because their tolerance or need for clean was simply coded different. Maybe someone sucks at cleaning the bathroom because they always got the dishes as their chore. The roommate who cleans constantly and is really bitter about it maybe just can’t stop feeling like an employee in their own home because cleaning is work to them and cleaning around roommates who don’t pitch in reminds them of how privileged people have ignored them as they’ve gone about their work. Cleaning is all about our past. I think opening a dialogue about privilege and housework can put this in perspective for a lot of actually anti-oppression people and just helps housemates get to know one another.

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      You have some very interesting points, but sometimes there comes a point where it doesn’t matter WHY there’s purple gunk in the fridge and someone’s hoarding plates, the gunk still needs to be cleaned and the plates redistributed.

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      I agree completely!

      In my own household, we have talked at length about each of our upbringings: what we were taught, what we weren’t taught, the ways cleaning is an emotional thing since we all had parents that were abusive or neglectful in some way. We are finding ways to teach each other (gently and nonjudgmentally) to fill in the gaps, and to understand at least that when things get out of whack it’s not a personal attack or a passive-aggressive thing.

      We also keep a chore points board, because we all chronically believe “I’m the only one cleaning around here!” With the data up on the board, it becomes clear that we all do our part. Sometimes we have phases of doing less when things are stressful, phases of doing more when life is going well, but overall we have the data now to quell irrational anger. It’s a thing of beauty, really.

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      I don’t know, I’m much cleaner than my family were. For me it’s about being considerate to everyone in the communal spaces – it doesn’t make sense to me that anyone would leave spillages across counters or never wash up – it doesn’t take long, but otherwise someone else will have to deal with it.

      (my own space is however, kinda cluttered, which is fine – it just affects me)

  5. Thumb up 7

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    Oh god, I feel like a lot of us have felt this way, except minus the radical progressive queer co-op.

    At this point I’m living alone as soon as this lease is up. My roommate right now is great but we have talks about toilet flushing, cleaning, how to do dishes so they’re not covered in grease and/or gluten (the second is far more important)…

    with my allergies, I’m never living with someone again unless they’re sleeping with me and ready to have a gluten-free household.

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    I would be your worst nightmare! I’m super messy. It’s not that I don’t do my share of the work, i’m really good with helping out and doing chores but I am just a messy person in general. I will leave things lying around, sometimes I don’t even notice it’s there. I guess because my parents never cared that I was messy, or they just gave up, i’m not bothered by the mess. Obviously I clean up if I know it’s bothering the person but clutter is sort of normal to me.

  7. Thumb up 2

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    Dawww, this made me all teary-eyed. D:
    I’m sorry you’re out of spoons. But sometimes I wish I was too. I’ve never lived with anyone, and the very thought of having to argue with someone over toilet paper fengshui makes me feel fuzzy inside.

    I got a cat recently, and once she broke a plate. It almost felt like a real flatmates conflict. Or, you know, interraction.

    … am I creepy?

  8. Thumb up 0

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    This is so marvelous. I live in an intentional community house, and love it 90% of the time while loathing it 10% of the time. Community houses/co-ops make life in general more intense, it seems.

    Did this actually get shared with your housemates? I hope so…

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