Sunday, March 18, 2012

Women Still Do the Majority of Housework


A recent article from The Guardian highlights the on going tradition that exists within many heterosexual coupled households. I don't doubt that there are men that do their fair share or even more. But to be honest I'm not completely surprised that women continue to do the majority of the work.

Why is it that women continue to do more housework? I imagine because they were raised to do so or they mimicked their parents. The men in my life have made efforts to clean but have found it difficult to do so. Why is it so difficult for some men to clean after themselves or assist in cleaning general spaces? Why didn't they care as much as I did? Because growing up they never had to.

In many homes men are no longer the sole "bread winners." They aren't the only ones "bringing home the bacon." We are way past the 50s but even today, we see commercials with women so eager to purchase floral scented fabric softeners and the least harsh liquid soap that isn't damaging to the hands. Where are the men in these ads?

In conversations with female friends; I noticed a persistent theme. It was the women who cleaned more and initially kept their mouths shut when their boyfriends/husbands didn't assist in washing dishes or mopping, etc. I too have been guilty of this. Once upon a time I felt guilty at the thought of asking a male partner to help out. Why should I? Why on earth? Perhaps I felt as though I'd be perceived as a nag. Where would I get that idea? Well, my dears, patriarchy insists upon it.

The men in my life have never been eager to clean up. I understand this as I myself hate cleaning. In my life there have been occasions where I have not favored the way a man cleaned certain parts of the house. So, I'd end up doing it myself.

What was missing was communication. Communication about how we both like to clean and want the house to look like. My goal with this post is to encourage women to speak up when it comes to household chores. My goal is to inspire men to have the motivation to have this conversation.

The Guardian's article, 40 Years of Feminism - but Women Still Do Most of the Housework, provided a few quotes from women who feel frustrated with their partner's lack of willingness to help out.

"My partner works and pays all the bills. Sometimes I still feel it would be nice if he offered to at least do something but he doesn't and never has and probably never will," said Nikki Payne. "His opinion is he works, so why should he? I also work.

"I think if I worked full-time he would still do diddly squat and it would be left for me. I mean, I am talking about a bloke who can't even change a loo roll."

It is important that feminism come through fathers. Fathers provide an example to their daughters and their sons as to how men participate in relationships.

For those of us who are already grown, it is vital that we communicate with our partners and let go of guilt. It is important that we work towards following our own advice and ridding ourselves of our own frustration and grief.

In the film The Break-Up with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn there is a scene where Aniston's character "Brooke" asks Vaughn's character, "Gary", to help clean dishes. Brooke expressed frustration after having worked all day and then going grocery shopping afterward. She made a meal for her family and Gary's. She asks Gary to help set the table but he sits down to turn on a football game. He too had worked all day and said that he wanted to relax before dinner. Brooke tells him that she needs help because she doesn't want to be still cooking dinner when people are arriving.

After the meal Gary heads straight for the living room to play video games. Brooke asks him to help do dishes and he refuses. After Brooke continues to ask for help he gives in and huffs towards the kitchen. Brooke says to him, "I want you to want to do dishes!" She says, "It'd be nice if you did things that I asked, it'd be even nicer if you did things without me having to ask you!" That last part reminds me of my mother, but that's different story.

Brooke ends up breaking up with him because she feels unappreciated and feels that she does all the work in the relationship. The issue is more than just house work, but that's where it starts for her.

Yes, this is a fictitious story, but it is reminiscent of real happenings. When I saw this in theaters I can't tell you how many surrounding women muttered, "Mmmhmm!" or "tell me about it", during these scenes.

Let's change this shall we? Does it bother you fellas out there that women are still doing most of the chores? Does it surprise you? Does it not? Let's have a conversation about our reactions to this topic.

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