Irritating everyday sexism: Dirty mums are making kids ill (allegedly)

Mums are more concerned about whether the kids wash their hands after going to the loo than they are about germs on the family computer. Eighty per cent of mums do clean the pc though, but apparently they don’t do it often or thoroughly enough – despite increasing evidence that computer keyboards can contain more bacteria than a loo seat.

I gleaned all this from a press release I received today issued by a company, AF International, which makes computer cleaning products. They arranged a poll of 1,000 UK mums in order to gather statistics about family hygiene habits. The poll also found that more than a quarter of mums reported their children were laid low by a mystery sickness or unspecified illness for one day or more in the last three months and seemed to suggest that mum not cleaning properly was to blame.

Here’s the part of the release in question: “From this evidence [referring to kids being unwell as described above], it would appear that mums are right to focus on the personal hygiene of family members but the poll findings call into question whether they are focusing their cleaning efforts in the right place.” [My emphasis].

I realise this is just a press release and not an article in the BMJ, but what an outrageous conclusion to jump to. The kids are under the weather so they must have picked up a bug from all the time they spend on the dirty computer their mum doesn’t know how/can’t be bothered to clean. No mention of how some kids swing the lead to get a day off school (I know about this because I did it all the time), or questions about how clean the computer in the classroom is, just jump straight into ‘blame the mother’.

Obviously this company isn’t the first or only to use, abuse and/or demonise women to publicise and sell its products but that doesn’t exempt them from criticism. Acknowledging the fact that it’s mostly women who clean the house is one thing,  blaming us for not doing it properly and making our children ill while at the same time ignoring the facts that other members of a household also ought to shoulder some responsibility for keeping the place clean and the home isn’t the only place children are exposed to germs is plumbing the depths.

I’ve got a great solution for stopping your kids picking up germs from the computer though, don’t let them use it. Give them a book to read or play a board game with them instead.

Risking life & limb using potentially germ ridden, deathtrap laptop.

Here’s a link to the full press release so you can make up your own mind about it:


One comment

  1. I don’t think they’re demonizing women or criticizing their cleaning efforts in the home.

    I can’t see that many men caring about germs, whereas Mothers do…

    I think they were just trying to raise awareness that these areas and objects in the home can be germ ridden, and that they require regular cleaning as well.

    Is feminism just another word for being argumentative?

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