The Feminist at the Ironing Board

Last night, around 9:30 pm, while the presidential debate played on the TV, I set up our ironing board and got to work ironing my husband's shirts.

It was like a scene out of Leave it to Beaver, except that instead of a shirtdress and heels, I was wearing sweatpants and bare feet.

Sometimes, I grimace at this little scene of traditional gender roles and wonder how, exactly, did I get here?

I rarely ever ironed  before last year; I didn't even own an iron until I started sewing and found it to be distressingly large part of any sewing project. Ironing my clothes never really crossed my mind as I spent my twenties sampling pretty much every job you can do in elastic waist stretch pants: massage therapist, dancer, pilates instructor, grant writer, personal assistant. When clothes shopping, I put clothes back on the rack when I noticed they were dry clean only because WHY?

My husband's current workplace has no real dress code, I mean they are a bunch of scientists after all. But he likes to wear button downs to work, usually with jeans. With my help, he's acquired a decent roster of button down shirts that look good on him.

Except right out of the dryer, when they are hopelessly wrinkled.

I first noticed it a few years ago. I am in charge of all things laundry in our house, and even if I was diligent about getting them out of the dryer the moment they were dry, they were always quite wrinkled. He didn't care so what's the big deal?.

It didn't hit me that maybe I should do something about it until I met him at work one day and saw him talking to his boss. In a horribly wrinkled shirt.

Well. That's just not okay.

So I guessed we could send them out? To be dry cleaned? Or washed and pressed? Is that a thing?

Investigating just how much money it would cost to send out his shirts every week convinced me to bust out the ironing board and get to work.

Suddenly his shirts looked SO MUCH BETTER. OMG. WHO KNEW?

So it's a regular thing now. I set up the ironing board once a week and plow through them. It usually takes about an hour. I'm saving us money, just like when I wash the dog with a hose instead of taking her to be "groomed" or cook in instead of eating out.

And I still do it all in elastic waist pants, with my feminist pride mostly intact. Many friends have commented on my ironing as if picking up the clothes iron means I simultaneously dropped all my feminist ideals. I didn't. I am responsible for laundry in our home, reasonably wrinkle-free clothing is part of my expectation when any member of our family leaves the house, ERGO I iron.

But a revelation came last week, when my husband ordered this online:

That's love right there.

I feel so stupid admitting this but I had NO IDEA they even made wrinkle free shirts that weren't.... horrible. TIME TO SHOP.


Mama Bub said...

My mom ironed everything, even jeans. I can remember staying home from school when I was sick and she would set up the ironing board in front of her soap operas and she would be there for HOURS. At some point that became MY chore, and I hated it. Still do. Fortunately, my super-cheap husband is okay with the dry cleaning line item in our budget every month for his work clothes. Otherwise, he probably wouldn't be my husband anymore.

Jessica said...

Huh. I wonder if all my husband's shirts are wrinkle free. I knew wrinkle-free shirts existed (and have some myself), but always thought they were kind of unnecessary as my husband's button-downs look fine out of the dryer. Maybe they're already wrinkle free and I didn't know!

Swistle said...

We used to have some really good wrinkle-free ones from Lands' End. He has some now that don't claim to be wrinkle-free, but they do okay as long as I whip them RIGHT out of the dryer.

stephanie said...

My husband wears only non-iron shirts. He gets his from Paul Frederick when they go on sale (which seems pretty often) and they have a pretty decent selection, even in trim fit (which I see your husband has there).

But that really only saves HIM time in the morning, because he's the ironer in our house. I'm terrible at it, so I make him do any ironing I need done... which is EXTREMELY rare. (Usually in hotel rooms when the dress I've packed for a wedding got all wrinkled on the plane.)

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Mama Bub- I will NEVER understand ironing jeans! My college roommate ironed her jeans! I have no idea why!

Jessica- I think perhaps I need to know the brand of your husband's shirts?

Swistle- Thanks for the Lands' End tip. On it.

Stephanie- And thanks also to you for the Paul Frederick tip! I'll look into them too!

Ann Wyse said...

Here's another idea, works with both wrinkle free and cotton shirts (although better with the wrinkle-free):

-Turn off the spin cycle when washing shirts.
-Then run ONLY the spin cycle for a mere 60 seconds, no longer.
- Remove shirt from washer (it'll be wettish, but not dripping)
- Hang to dry on hanger.

It should dry practically wrinkle free (but not pressed. Still, good enough, I say.)

Here I should confess that my husband figured that one out himself.

Pamela Hunt Cloyd said...

I think this is beautiful that you do this for your husband. My husband makes my coffee most mornings and I LOVE it.

grammalouie said...

Now we know what to get him for Christmas!

d e v a n said...

I don't iron anything, pretty much ever. However, the fact that you do does not make you less of a feminist in my eyes! In my opinion, being a feminist is about having choices.

Bronwen said...

I had no idea either! Thank you for helping me with my Christmas list.

Andy does all of the family's ironing. But I am responsible for most of the housework, and I feel similarly about it. Although since becoming a mom, I take more pride in my 1950s housewife duties. It's not terribly fulfilling or interesting work, but it's the nuts-and-bolts part of having a family, and so it has some meaning to me.

belinda said...

I have a whole section of my wardrobe that I haven't worm in years because it requires ironing. The most I'll do is spray it down with water and toss it in the dryer with a dry towel foe 20 minutes- not very energy efficient but it works. I hear Downy Wrinkle Release works well, but it's stinky and the company that makes it is all testy-on-animals (which I just can't stand).

And wrinkle-resistant shirts/pants (they make those too)? WORTH EVERY STINKIN' DIME.

BTW - your roommate in college (if it is who I'm thinking of), goddess love her, sweet as could be, but she was a little batty.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Oh ladies, thank you! Between your suggestions and my recent discovery of cool wrinkle free shirts, I'm a new lady! I may be liberated from my iron once again!

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