MPR’s Midmorning focused today on a common complaint: Men aren’t doing their share of the chores around the house.
But before we jump into that, let me point out a Facebook post from Mrs. NewsCut:
But not everyone lives in the heaven-on-earth world that she does, according to today’s program, the genesis of which appears to be last month’s Time Magazine article, “Why Men and Women Should End The Chore Wars.” Trust me, the irony of the title isn’t lost on me.
The article isn’t available online, but a capsule says men and women now have roughly a similar workload, and women should stop pointing fingers at men:
Though it’s still true that women with young children do put in more hours around the house and with the kids, at the same time their husbands are putting more time in at the office (where cutting back hours as a new dad isn’t typically an option). According to the most recent data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on hours worked by women and men who are married, employed and have kids, the ladies are actually only putting in about 20 minutes more work (paid and unpaid) per day than their husbands. Sure, they’re working more, but it’s not the 15 hours a week difference made famous by The Second Shift, the hugely influential book by Arlie Russell Hochschild.
But a listen to today’s show reveals that the term “household chores” reveals three things: Cleaning, cooking and kids. But is that all there is to running a house?
Last fall, a company released a “Chore Wars study” that might’ve started this latest round of fingerpointing. The company makes cleaning products. The study appeared to define “chores” as “cleaning.” As MSNBC reported:
In fact, 69% of women felt they did most of the work around the house, while 53% of the men disagreed, feeling they worked just as hard as the women when it came to cleaning up.
What about “mowing up?” Or “fixing the car up?” Or “painting the house up?” Or “fixing the snowblower when it’s -10 in the garage up?”
As long as the list of what makes a household run is skewed, the results are going to be skewed, too. Unquestionably, there is a culture divide in the home that’s at the heart of this, not a helping/not helping divide. Viewed through that prism, men come out looking like uncaring, lazy ooofs. The number of comments to Mrs NewsCut’s Facebook post reminding her how incredibly lucky she is is proof of that.
Curiously, though, when the subject comes up in public discussions like this morning, men are fairly silent.
Check today’s mailbag reacting to the show:
A woman in Owatonna:
Amongst myself and my peers, we still find that between working professionally, raising children and managing a household that we women put in more time. My husband has the best of intentions for equality in cleaning, but just doesn’t enjoy it and its not important to him to have a clean house. I think expectations are important when it comes to the roles of careers, child rearing and chores in the house. We have found that if I leave him a short “honey to do” list and my scaling back on how clean our home has to be that we free up our time to enjoy our life and there is more equality in our relationship.
A woman in Minnetonka:
I think the real challenge is when both spouses work full time. Both my husband and I work at least 50 hours per week. We try to share the home , kid responsibilities but it seems that I am the person responsible for keeping track of what needs to be done (signing up kids for camp, school shopping along with house chores for example) and I have to take the initiative to ask my husband to help. He is great and very willing, but if I don’t ask, he won’t take charge. It can be a source of conflict at times.
A woman in Woodbury:
I am 41, have owned my own business and am now back in corporate America. While owning my own business, I did the bulk of the house work and child care while still working. Since going back into the corporate work force, I continue to do more of the paperwork portion, but my spouse has picked up and is doing more of the laundry, child care(albeit directed by me schedule-wise- I tell him when to pick up kids, and when their appointments are if I am working), and will make simple meals. Again, it’s up to me to get the groceries, etc.