Incompetence and Performance

I wrote in this post: Having watched that clip of those two men on red table talk plus a couple of comments on father’s day, I must say: There is a way fathers are infantilised when it comes to taking care of their kids that I REFUSE to get behind. How are you kekeing about your partner’s inability to remember things about his own children? Yuck. and then I came across a TikTok that talked about strategic incompetence. I didn’t save it so cannot link it.

But basically it was talking about how domestic work is something everyone should learn for their own living but somehow men are able to pretend they aren’t good at it. No one is born knowing how to do anything (except probably eat, sleep cry and poop). And then we are socialised, taught, we learn by observing etc.

Strategic Incompetence is the art of avoiding undesirable tasks by pretending to be unable to do them, and though the phrase was apparently only recently coined in a Wall Street Journal article, the concept is surely as old as humanity

You know how this incompetence is normalised? By making jokes about men not knowing how to take care of themselves or their offspring. And then people laughing about it. Like. Why? How do you not see the ridiculousness of it all?

Is it because doing this labour makes you feel like your life is important?

And this is where the performance of womanhood comes in.

Domesticity is not a birthright for women. And neither is suffering.

And that is why it grinds my gears when women perform womanhood as portrayed by society as if they were born to be nurturers as opposed to something socialised into them. All so that one can be “chosen”

Let us agree it is ALL a performance, ok? And let us imagine better. For us all.

“The ideal woman has always been conceptually overworked, an inorganic thing engineered to look natural. Historically, the ideal woman seeks all the things that women are trained to find fun and interesting – domesticity, physical self improvement, male approval, the maintenance of congeniality, various forms of unpaid work. The concept of the ideal woman is just flexible enough to allow for a modicum of individuality; the ideal woman always believes she came up with herself on her own.”

Trick Mirror – Jia Tolentino


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