Here’s A Thought, You Live Here Too…
I came across a great post on this tumblr while updating the Radical Idea and it really got me to thinking: when women do work around the house like cooking and cleaning, it’s expected but when men do it, you better really appreciate it.
I’m not 100% on who originally pointed this out but whoever you are, you are 100% right. The norms in American (okay, in most) societies indicate that women are still the primary caregivers and are responsible for the majority of domestic duties. I am sure that someone is about to tell me that this is untrue, but I checked my statistics: according to multiple studies (referenced here), in 1995 women did 74% of the unpaid cooking and 80% of unpaid cleaning. Even if things have gotten marginally better in the intervening years (and there are studies which indicate otherwise, referenced by that same source), the fact remains that this is a pretty big margin.
Maybe this made sense in the 1800s when women did not really go to college or work, but today, it’s a little ridiculous. What this actually means in today’s society is that women are often expected to essentially work two jobs-~-one they’re paid for, and one they’re just supposed to do because they’re women and that’s what they do. Many feminists would argue that failure to count housework as real work is a method by which society devalues what it is women do, and this is probably true, but it’s not what I’m concerned with. I’m more concerned with the fact that they do so much MORE of it than their partners.
This may sound absolutely insane, but men do live in those homes too. They eat the food. They use the bathrooms. They help trek a percentage of the dirt across the rug. It is not as though plugging in a vacuum or stacking a dishwasher is so complicated that they simply cannot figure out how to do it. So let’s be honest: why is it that men are getting away with not necessarily pulling their weight at home?
One article I found went through a list of common excuses men use to get out of doing chores. Let’s take a look, shall we?
1. “But I make more money.” First, this isn’t true in every income situation, but moreover, who cares? If my husband made twice what I made but worked the same number of hours as me I would tell him to pitch in or hire us a housekeeper. The amount of work should matter a lot more than the amount of money earned-~-especially in a society that steers women into lower-paying pink-collar jobs and pays them less than men for working the same job in many cases.
2. “I’m tired/stressed after a long day at work.” And what, the wife/girlfriend is not? The fact is that women are more likely to have jobs involving emotional labor which means that if anyone should be claiming fatigue/stress, it is probably the spouse who instead now has to go cook dinner.
3. “I have no experience with household chores”. This one is brilliant because according to the article, men will deliberately mess up housework to get out of it, which is especially successful when their partners are particular about housework. Honestly, vacuuming is not that difficult and neither is laundry. If your average frat guy can get the hang of it, I’m pretty sure your average married man can too.
There are some other great strategies I found when I googled this problem. According to this article in the UK’s Telegraph, 59% of men admit that they pretend not to hear when their significant other asks them to help with chores, and almost 40% admit they try to hide. Upwards of 70% adopted the strategy of telling their partner she does the housework so much better to get out of doing it themselves.
What’s even more interesting is that men LIE about the amount of housework they do. Many men, according to that same study, report doing most household chores without grumbling. The article gives the example that 48% of men claimed to have done the laundry without complaint, but 69% of their partners said this was a lie. The fact is, men seem to KNOW they should be doing household chores, but they’re just not doing them.
The problem isn’t just that they’re not doing their fair share: it’s that they’re getting away with it. Ladies, why are you letting him tell you he’s too tired to help out when you know you’re tired too? It doesn’t make sense. According to my mother, my grandmother was SHOCKED when my mom told my dad to go get something himself-~-it never even occurred to her to tell my grandfather he was capable of pouring his own soda. But the fact is, men are totally capable of making their own sandwiches, picking up their own shoes, and doing plenty of other things…and women shouldn’t let “but I’ve been working” be an excuse anymore.