My, but aren’t we modern? Men and women now live together when in previous less enlightened times they would have been forced to marry by the league of decency at a mass ceremony like the moonies.
Even so, some flatshare ads specify the sex of the tenant, and some rented households are still single gender. Others aren’t so specific.
How quaint you think - how Victorian. But always remember: in ancient times, men and woman lived in separate villages, and with good reason. When you’ve lived in a house with boys and girls together this begins to make sense.
Firstly, there’s the shared bathroom. Anthropologists have written thick editions of theories about male toilet habits, and here’s a brief summary of their learned conclusions: ‘They’re horrible!’
No really; the adage about snaps and snails, and puppy dogs tails missed out appalling mess, hideous invasive smells last used in the trenches of WW1 that melt your nasal passages and permeate the entire house, before heading off down the street to make their way into town.
There’s the fact that (despite an ability to programme computers and re-assemble engines) a toilet brush is a bewildering and complex piece of technology. There’s shaving beards (and heads, and god knows what else) leaving the detritus on the bathroom floor, and they make good use of all your beauty products, whilst disdaining you for vanity.
Yes, I know - females are not innocent. Much to the amazement of men without sisters or mothers – ladies function just the same, digestively speaking. And yes, women and baths is an extreme, experiment in hygiene. Sugar and Spice? Make that leg shavings in the bath, sanitary products discarded openly in the bin, and hours, and hours, and hours (in fact a residency) in the bathroom. One flatmate was oddly coy, insisting that spare loo roll was stored in the kitchen cupboard, but not so coy about drying half washed knickers in the lounge (I will spare you the details…suffice to say it was like a surgery scene ER.)
And emotionally it can get a very messy, with boyfriends made insecure by male flatmates, or boys hijacking your man for that Simpson’s marathon, or something called ‘The Match’.
Certain are assumptions linger: many men assume that women love to clean, while women assume that men can instinctively mend stuff, when neither is true. While the exception proving the rule is always a joy to find, I have encountered men ask if lettuce needs cooking, and girls who called the gas company when the meter ran out. I also know of ladies who cooked boil-in-the-bag-fish, or reheat takeaway curries for breakfast, and men who insisted upon cooking carefully prepared, delicious, nutritionally balanced meals every night.
When a house with a large amount of inmates divides along gender longs during conflict – well that’s not a good thing. And there’s the drama and recrimination when couples pair off and then split up. It’s unavoidable and cranks up the drama. And there’s no going back.