Sky: Cleanliness is unisex, it’s that simple

Nathan Sky

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Even just the word “cleaning” can be enough to push some people into a spiral of anxiety. It always seems to sneak up on us, no matter how proactive we are. We get home from a long day of classes and work, and the first thing we see coming through the door is a pile of dishes and clothes strewn about the place, but we’re too tired to even take a shower or wash our faces.

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We’re all guilty of pushing chores to the side in favor of school, work and whatever our favorite pastime is. However, cleaning seems to be an activity that women, rather than men, are expected to do naturally. Despite these social norms, men should be held to the same standard of cleanliness as women.

The definition and standard of clean is fluid and changes from person to person. There is a strong and strange divide on who should be cleaning and who should be the cleaner one. A woman who had a long week and little time to freshen up is met with more criticism than one would expect for one’s appearance. Women are expected to be the cleanest, both in regards to their personal hygiene and the cleanliness of their environment.

If a man shows up to class with the same clothes from yesterday and has noticeably gone without a shower for a few days, no one bats an eye. Even the ways we perceive cleanliness are not immune to our subconscious internalization of society’s expectations. 

This is supported by the snap judgments our brain makes when we first meet someone. According to recent Princeton research, our brains decide whether a person is attractive and trustworthy within a tenth of a second.

It’s built into our society that to survive and make the biggest impression, we need to be at the top of our game at all times. In a world built for men, it’s far easier for them to be deemed socially acceptable and worthy of recognition by simply having their one nice suit on and having their hair quickly pushed back.

Do it for your mom, do it for yourself and most importantly, do it for the people who have to sit next to you.

Women have higher standards of hygiene and cleanliness at home because they have more on the line knowing that judgement will follow if they aren’t looking their best or if their living arrangements aren’t perfect. But just because women face these high standards doesn’t mean that men don’t need to bother.

Cleaning is unisex: anyone can and should do it. From my own perspective, cleaning is a natural part of my routine, despite it not being a norm that is forced. Cleaning does a lot for the brain and can be seen as a positive and productive source of self-care.

According to Psychology Today, we function better in a clean environment for working and social situations, and it especially contributes to our overall feelings. Those who reported their living arrangements as cluttered or generally disorganized were more likely to have constant feelings of depression and overwhelming stress.

Having a clean work space is a way to personify our mind in a space where we can interact with it. Keeping an important space tidy and organized can give us the feeling that we just dusted off and reorganized our brain.

Cleanliness is not something that we should sweep under the rug. It’s important to distinguish that not every woman should be a master at cleaning, and not every man should be a lazy slob. We all do things at our own pace, but it’s beneficial to recognize your own cleaning habits and make an adjustment.

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If you always tell yourself that you’ll take out the trash or tidy up your room “just after this one thing,” try doing it in the moment. Getting it over with and being able to enjoy the fruits of your labor is one of the best parts about cleaning.

Guys, it’s time to shape up and hold yourself to a higher standard. Men should no longer put the bare minimum effort into their appearance and environment. Not only will it improve your confidence, your organizational skills and the way you hold yourself, but it also bridges the disparity between the high expectations women have been forced into.

Do it for your mom, do it for yourself and most importantly, do it for the people who have to sit next to you. Cleanliness is a great compliment to receive, and making it a reality is possible with the right reorganization and ambition to create a better environment for you — no matter your gender.

Nathan Sky can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @NathanSky97