Friday, October 16, 2009

Gender and Housework


So as we can see from this table, even when both partners are employed full-time, women still do a lot more housework than men. Why does that happen?

I've been thinking about it a lot and according to my observations, women themselves are often to blame for this state of affairs. In my experience, most if not all men are more than willing and capable of cooking their own meals, doing the laundry, cleaning their place of abode, etc. Granted, I haven't spent much time with fundamentalist freaks, so I'm mostly talking about normal, educated men who do not believe actively that women are inferior by nature.

What I often observe is that women go to great lengths to do everything they can and more around the house and stifle any attempts that men make at doing their share of housework. Often, when I visit a couple I know I observe the following scene: when we finish eating, the male partner gets up to remove the dirty dishes and the woman immediately jumps up and almost screams: "Don't! I'll do it myself!" Usually, these are very progressively-minded, feminist women.

The myth that you have to be a good housewife to be loved and appreciated is too deeply ingrained in our minds. It's often difficult to get rid of the feeling that a sink full of dirty dishes is somehow your problem just because of your gender. As much as we might advocate for gender equality, we often end up doing everything we can to infantilize men and prevent them from learning to fulfill their household obligations. In a way, it makes sense. If a man feels completely useless around the house, it makes a woman feel more indispensable.

What we have to do is learn to give up on this fake feeling of indispensability and remember that we are valuable not for the amount of household work we perform. We shouldn't strive to be useful and convenient to the detriment of our equality. Contrary to what the title of the above-quoted table says, men do not need looking after. They are perfectly capable of doing that for themselves.

3 comments:

Independent said...

I really agree. We have to let go of taking the sole responsibility for having the house clean and nice and ... Our male partners care as much and start working on it if we let them, you would be surprised. I have tested it to a great extend.

Another thing I think woman do to a great extend is if a man makes a meal or cleans or whatever they will tell him that he is not doing it right. In opinion their is no right there is just different styles and if you don't want to do all the work by yourself you have to accept the style of your partner.

Clarissa said...

Very true! We have to remember that when you live with somebody, it isn't "my" house any more. It's "our" house and we are both responsible for it.

Tamen said...

I know I am very late to this, but this post was linked from a newer comment by you and I think you forgot one fact in this post. Full time is not equal full time. On average men who work full time works more hours per week than women who works full time.

If one look at the sum of paid work and housework one will find that it is close to parity in the US (http://www.slate.com/id/2164268/pagenum/all/#p2) while in Scandinacia where I live men work (paid work + housework) 1 hour more per day than women (I cite the source here: http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2011/02/27/author-reassesses-%e2%80%98the-feminine-mystique%e2%80%99-noh/#comment-153759 )