Never Ever Minimize Domestic Work— 'The Person Who Cleans My Toilets'
Just like the TERF Who Must Not Be Named, I don’t want to give Rachel Hollis any more attention over her tantrum about being called out for having privilege. Even negativity towards her seems to be welcome in her eyes (#unrelatableAF) but she does provide a gross example I can use to point out a bigger problem that persists with other privileged and clueless folks who have referred to their housekeeper as only “the person who cleans my toilets.”
The problem is the fact that she and others can’t distinguish us from the domestic work we do; they separate us from themselves by seeing the most—in their eyes—demeaning part of our jobs. Cleaning a toilet isn’t the worst thing I have ever done nor am I embarrassed that this is part of my job; the worst part of being a housekeeper is dealing with people who think I should simply be grateful for the fact that they have disposable income to throw at me, as if their success is my good fortune.
Relying on money from people who are blinded from their head being stuck up their privileged asses is not what I call fortunate. It was a job, and it sometimes felt like self-sacrifice.
I was a full-time house cleaner for several years before becoming a full-time stay at home parent. When my kids went to kindergarten, I started cleaning again for a few of my favorite clients. Over the last few years, I’m back to cleaning part-time while freelancing and providing LGBTQIA+ inclusivity trainings locally and nationally.
I have years of stories and experiences that have shaped, entertained, and rewarded me. I also have memories that make me cringe. While I charged the same rates for every client and provided the same services with the same level of care and hard work, the people who wrote the checks were very different. At one point I balanced 25 different households, yet some of those homeowners acted as if they were unique and my only purpose was to cater to their requests and scrutiny.
Once I was able to replace the people who asked me to not wear shoes in their house (they were indoor sneakers only used while I was working and kept my knees from and feet from hurting), questioned if I was using the toilet sponge on the kitchen counters (fucking gross, no), demanded that I pay taxes on the money they paid me (where do I start?), and flinched when I told them I too had a college degree from a Big Ten school (that’s right, asshole, we have the same amount of higher education), I let them know they would need to find another cleaner.
While I was building my business, though, I needed to maintain a full schedule — even if it meant dealing with people who were happy to leave messes for me to clean. Because in their minds why should they make my job easier? Why pay me if they could do it themselves?
For the clients I was able to curate and maintain, the answer is easy: paying me with money is more than a transaction, it comes with respect and gratitude for what I’m able to do to make their life easier. One client called me her House Angel, and why I haven’t put that on my resume yet is a mystery.
I’m a business owner who is providing a service; I know I’m hired help. But when my work is minimized to the task of cleaning piss off of your bathroom floor, then you are no longer seeing me as a human, friend, parent, and partner. You aren’t seeing me as a person who doesn’t mind cleaning toilets but has dreams of going back to school, of writing a novel, and of no longer having to piece together gig work. You aren’t seeing me as someone who would love affordable health care, paid time off, and a retirement plan.
In her now-removed rant on TikTok, Hollis says, “Most people won’t work this hard. Most people won’t get up at 4 a.m. Most people won’t fail publicly again and again just to reach the top of the mountain.” Actually plenty of us do, but the difference is that we don’t have the luxury of failure. Making it to the top requires perfection, stars aligning, and an absence of discrimination on the next step forward.
When it comes to moving women’s rights forward, Austin Channing Brown had time so I’m not going to recap her emotional labor on the subject, but I highly suggest you watch her take on the problematic feminism Hollis displayed too. If you learn something and share it, be sure to give her the appropriate credit.
When you minimize folks like me who come into your home to work, you aren’t seeing and appreciating the time you have to work, exercise, play with your kids, meet up with a friend, or nap because of my presence. You are no longer seeing your advantage of being able to hire help in order to seek opportunities for physical, mental, and financial growth. When you minimize domestic workers, you are minimizing the help you receive in order to gain your success.
No, your housekeeper didn’t plagiarize your books for you and then go on exhausting book tours, Hollis, but having a housekeeper sure gave you time to do both — then come home and rest instead of clean.
And when you say your success, hard work, and money makes you deserving of someone cleaning your house, then you are also implying that my hard work and definition of success is less than yours. I’m doing everything I can to find financial security after a divorce and years of being out of the workforce. I’m working my ass off, yet my 24 hours look a lot different than the ones privileged folks spend showing their asses on social media. Hard work isn’t one of the differences, though.
Girl, wash that egg off of your face.