THERE persists much of the harem in every well-regulated home. In every house arranged to make a real man really happy, that man remains always a visitor, welcomed, honoured, but perpetually a guest.

He steps in from the great outside for rest and refreshment, but he never belongs. For him the click and hum of the harem machinery stops, giving way to love and laughter, but there is always feminine relief when the master departs and the household hum goes on again. The anomaly lies in the fact that in theory all the machinery exists but for the master’s comfort; but in practice, it is much easier to arrange for his comfort when he is not there.

A house without a man is savorless, yet a man in a house is incarnate interruption.

No matter how closely he incarcerates himself, or how silently, a woman always feels him there. He may hide beyond five doors and two flights of stairs, but his presence somehow leaks through, and unconsciously dominates every domestic detail. He does not mean to, the woman does not mean him to; it is merely the nature of him.

Keep a man at home during the working hours of the day, and there is a blight on that house, not obvious, but subtle, touching the mood and the manner of maidservant and manservant, cat, dog, and mistress, and affecting even the behavior of inanimate objects, so that there is a constraint about the sewing-machine, a palsy on the vacuum-cleaner, and a gaucherie in the stove-lids.

Over the whole household spreads a feeling of the unnatural, and a resulting sense of ineffectuality. Let the man go out, and with the closing of the front door, the wheels grow brisk again, and smooth. To enjoy a home worth enjoying, a man should be in it as briefly as possible…”

The Joys of Being a Woman by Winifred Kirkland, 1918