Emily Shire, weighing in on the gender-and-messiness debate:
And just think about how messy men are portrayed in popular culture. An unkempt space is a sign of a man’s strong work ethic, as he’s too busy dealing with “real” problems to bother tidying up. It’s endearing when President Obama mentions how his Washington, D.C., apartment as a junior senator was piled with pizza boxes. At worst, messy men have a lovable, “absent-minded professor” quality.I've already infuriated the internet with my thoughts on gender disparities as they relate to personal appearance. But I hadn't thought about how this relates to household maintenance. Probably because I'm one of those people who cares about cleanliness but not neatness. But as Shire explains it, it's effectively the same - men can be too brilliant to clean, but women cannot.
On the other hand, messiness in women usually denotes a life in disarray. In the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary, an opening scene of pajama-ed Renée Zellweger going through a fridge that is mostly empty—save for a few expired items—establishes how pathetic her professional and personal life are. Think of the countless romantic comedies that cut to a shot of a woman’s bedroom strewn with clothes and a half-eaten pint of ice cream to connote depression after a breakup.
As with too brilliant to bathe, this probably does mean that men who don't clean because they're depressed are more easily overlooked, so this isn't all a great boon for men, either. But on the whole, this is clearly better for men than women. I'd be more inclined to say here than re: looks that the answer is less caring-about-it all around, but I suppose it depends how much squalor we're talking about.