Women bring home the bacon - and then cook it

(96 Posts)
Wuldric Sun 21-Jul-13 05:29:15

A recent study has shown that 40 percent of women are now the main earners in their households.

Which is great and frankly a far higher percentage than I would have guessed.

However the downside is that women are still doing 70 percent of the household chores.

So there's more inequality in the home than in the workplace!

I can't link to the study from my source (the Sunday Times) as it is subscription-only.

How do we address the inequality in the.home? How do we address the remaining inequality at work?

The article mentions having parental leave rather than maternity leave as being key.


exoticfruits Sun 21-Jul-13 07:20:39

You just start at home with yourself.
There seem to be a lot of women who rant about it in general when they are not getting equality in their own home.
You get your children doing household tasks from a very early age. Unfortunately if you mention on MN asking a 4 yr old to set the table they will make akin to going up chimneys! They also won't let 8 yr olds boil a kettle or have a sharp knife etc.
My DSs can all cook a meal, clean a bathroom etc. They have watched DH from an early age- if he wants a button sewn on he gets out the sewing box- he doesn't think that women are born knowing how to use a needle! Equally I am quite capable of using a power drill.
Set your own house in order first!

Wuldric Sun 21-Jul-13 08:17:59

I think the division of household labour is fair at our house.

It's interesting that it clearly isn't in a lot of homes.

BlingLoving Sun 21-Jul-13 22:23:59

It's a basic problem in that a lot of people don't see that there even is inequality. Women have been brainwashed to believe that men are less good at chores and so they should do it. Similarly men are taught that its ok to simply sit back and let others do it.

The problem is that a) men don't want to change things because its easier and b) women are so brainwashed they don't even see it.

I have lost count the number of times I've sat gobsmacked because the woman I am chatting to casually mentions some "small" thing at home that bothers her or worse, that she doesn't even think is a problem.

Few examples from the last few weeks alone: the women whose husband has never got up in the night or given her a lie in. Her ds is 3. The women who cleaned her flat while her dh sat on the couch watching tv.

Wuldric Sun 21-Jul-13 22:29:25

The thing is, we are all part of society. So every woman whose DH does sit on the sofa doing nothing, makes it kinda worse for the rest of us, in a way.

exoticfruits Mon 22-Jul-13 06:38:40

I don't think that it so much brainwashing as women not only want them to do it, they want them to do it to their standard. If they are doing it you have to let them do it their way.
If I iron I do it to my standard and people either accept it or are handed the iron and they can do it! It is the same with any household tasks- if I do it then I do it my way- any criticism then I let them do it. Many women expect to be the one in charge who supervises and want it done a certain way- it isn't acceptable in my view. If DH does something I leave him to it.
There was a thread lately with someone complaining her DH never washed up. He said that he would do it 'when he got around to it'- because he didn't do it immediately she did it. I would have left it, putting it in a bowl or bucket if necessary until he did get around to it.

exoticfruits Mon 22-Jul-13 06:41:02

Every woman who lets her DH sit on the sofa while she cleans makes it worse for the rest. You need to start from day1 to make it clear that you are not the housekeeper.

dashoflime Mon 22-Jul-13 06:49:58

Here's the only think I've ever found to make it fair:
1. Start from a position of both unemployed.
2. Beat DH to finding a job.
3. Leave for work, handing DH the baby on your way out. Don't look back.
4. Then, as exoticfruits says, don't interfere. He's at home all day, not you. If he wants to live in shit so be it. Do what seems reasonable only.

peteypiranha Mon 22-Jul-13 07:02:08

Totally agree with exoticfruits. You always see women on here moaning about its pretty simple just tell your husband to do it as you have been working. If he loves you he will do it, simple as.

Wishihadabs Mon 22-Jul-13 07:02:10

I read this article yesterday. I was hoping there'd be a thread about it. I was very surprised by the 40% figure too. (Although pleased obviously). TBH the 70% was better than I was expecting too. Wasn't it a bit lower if the woman worked more than 30 hours ?

I work 24 hours a week (more like 30 with commuting and extras) DH does 35 ish (some from home).We earn the same, I do all the food shopping, the meal planning, the lion's share of the cooking, 90% of the laundry. However he sorts out all the bills, does all the diy and the gardening. Childcare is 50:50.

In most respects I think we've got it pretty good. We certainly have a more even balance than the majority of our peers. But sadly yes I agree with this study I outearn him on a prorata basis and I probably do 60% of the household chores. I have to say we do have a housekeeper so some is outsourced.

peteypiranha Mon 22-Jul-13 07:09:34

Dh does as much as me, and always has done. Why? Because its not my job and why on earth would I be such as mug as to work and do everything? Anyone that does deserves it if they are that much of a weak person with no backbone.

Wishihadabs Mon 22-Jul-13 07:09:35

X-post....the way that we have found our balance is:

1) 1st job after maternity leave was weekends DH was my childcare. So used to looking after dcs single handed.

2) Consistently outearn him prorata, so all childcare is always 50:50 (my working hours are no less valuable than his)

3) Have an economic recession so that it becomes economically unviable for the lower earner (DH to work)

4) He has a Period of being SAHP.

5) DH returns to work force with the proviso we need to work round the other's commitments.

exoticfruits Mon 22-Jul-13 07:15:05

You just tell them- I cooked- you wash up! ( or the other way around). If they won't wash up you don't cook- simple!

exoticfruits Mon 22-Jul-13 07:16:04

However you then leave them to it- you do not act as instructor or overseer!

peteypiranha Mon 22-Jul-13 07:16:45

exactly exotic its not hard I dont get what the big deal is confused Why not say if you think women should be in the home and do all the work I wont bother working then mate and threaten to quit.

Wishihadabs Mon 22-Jul-13 07:17:44

Yes exotic fruits. There is a spirit measure and half a cut up lime on the side in our kitchen since Friday night. It's going to stay there for the foreseeable....

StrangeGlue Mon 22-Jul-13 07:23:24

Some of these responses seem a bit harsh - cant we just talk about it with our partners? Me and dh talk about things and as a result I think it is 50:50 and we play to our strengths so I do bills and money and he irons, I do laundry he does vacuuming and the garden, I do the bathroom he does the kitchen. You don't need to go in all guns blazing just start with a chat. Save the guns for when you need them this person is meant to be your partner and you are meant to like them (and if you don't then you have a bigger problem than washing up)!

StrangeGlue Mon 22-Jul-13 07:24:34

And don't be passive aggressive. If something is annoying you bring it up!

Reality Mon 22-Jul-13 07:26:12

DH and I used to really struggle with the inequality in household stuff, both thought we were doing the lion's share (he wasn't).

It took me (more wifework hmm) sitting down to go through everything I did to keep up at a sustenance level of hygeine for him to really see it.

I have to say that it is now much, much fairer.

I work from home so naturally end up being able to do more. However if I get the job I'm hoping for today, he'll be picking up even more of the house stuff (I'll be out until 6pm and he's home at 4.30...).

Reality Mon 22-Jul-13 07:28:36

I agree to playing to strengths.

DH used to wash up after dinner and it woudl take him an hour. One of the things we did when we reshuffled was decided I can wash up (and tidy the kitchen, something he never did properly) which takes me fifteen mins tops, and in the meantime he can clean the bathroom while bathing the kids, or run teh hoover round upstairs, or put a load of washing away.

This has worked for us. What would also have worked would be him learning to wash up and tidy the kitchen quicker (we have a dishwasher...) but this way was less antagonistic/stressful for both of us.

Wishihadabs Mon 22-Jul-13 07:34:36

Strange glue what are you talking about ? Don't go in all guns blazing?? Saying I cooked you wash up is hardly W w3. Just straight forward communication. So don't be straight forward but don't be passive aggressive either. TBH this sounds like tip toeing around, when actually youare just asking them to do their share. Thanks but no thanks the little cocktail bar stays (I have mentioned it once that should be enough).

MousyMouse Mon 22-Jul-13 07:40:35

sadly this doesn't surprise me.
we have everything pretty evenly split, I maybe do a little aroud dc. partly because I work 4days a week (condensed hours) and partly because dh hates childrens birthday parties.
childcare for sick dc is split 50/50, sometimes we take whole days or we do 2/3 days at work, one starting very very early, the other leaving as they come home.

Wishihadabs Mon 22-Jul-13 07:54:38

So is this as good as it gets ? Somehow I find that very depressing. We are basically saying yes we know it uneven, we know we probably earn more, we are doing 60% at home. But what can you do ?

The problem is all the unseen work isn't it ? The wifework, party invitations, school meetings , football practice. ......leave them to it you say, thats fine but We don't want our dcs to miss out, because daddy was in charge that day

Wishihadabs Mon 22-Jul-13 07:55:34

Depressing myself now, got to go to work will check in later.

Wishihadabs Mon 22-Jul-13 08:02:22

And yes DH is doing the school run this morning for which he undoubtedly deserves a medal for equality. Yes I washed and dried the school uniform yesterday, bathed them and nit combed them last night......

Reality Mon 22-Jul-13 08:14:57

When I said I was looking for a job out of the house, several people were horrified that I woudl be expecting DH to pick the DC up from the CM and cook their tea. HORRIFED. And quite a few of these people were ones I wouldn't expect it from, my Dsis who out earns her DH for eg.

These attitudes are so completely ingrained, all over society.

peteypiranha Mon 22-Jul-13 08:16:30

Why didnt your dh did it wishihabs my dh does everything on your list and I dont think its impressive, its just normal.

Wishihadabs Mon 22-Jul-13 10:03:53

And yes DH is doing the school run this morning for which he undoubtedly deserves a medal for equality. Yes I washed and dried the school uniform yesterday, bathed them and nit combed them last night......

CiscoKid Mon 22-Jul-13 10:56:05

Can I just ask, do the men who avoid this work tend to have moved straight from their parents' house into the marital home? I lived on my own for a good few years before getting married. I had no choice but to clean, hoover, pay bills etc etc. Has anyone noticed this kind of split? Oh, and any man who does not change/clean/bathe his own kids is an arsehole. No excuses.

peteypiranha Mon 22-Jul-13 10:57:56

Dh does everything and he moved straight from parents to marital home.

peteypiranha Mon 22-Jul-13 10:58:31

Dh does everything and he moved straight from parents to marital home.

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 22-Jul-13 11:01:42

40% of what? 40% of all women? Or 40% of women who live with men? Kind of meaningless about "equality" if we don't know what this refers to. What about women who are in lesbian relationships or women who are the only adult in the household or live with their adult sons?

It is depressing though. Hoschild's Second Shift was written in 1989 and not very much has changed at all.

Wuldric Mon 22-Jul-13 11:07:29

I think the original article referred to women who live with men, with a wide age-range. So I think that people who live on their own were not picked up. Since the majority of LPs are women, presumably the statistic of women do 70% of the housework is just a tip of the iceberg.

But good news about 40% of women earning more than their partners. Once that gap equalises out there is more chance of the housework evening out, I reckon.

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 22-Jul-13 11:12:05

Ah, okay smile Thank you for clarifying. That's much higher than I would have thought TBH. It's definitely nowhere near 40% among the women that I know, although quite a large proportion of those are SAHMs because of the young age of our children, which might account for that.

I can definitely see 70% of housework being done by women.

badguider Mon 22-Jul-13 11:16:40

Personally I think that people are far too focussed on exactly how much money each working partner brings in.
My DH works in the private sector in a professional role where salaries are determined by competition with other firms in the same profession.
I am self-employed but I service mainly the third and public sectors. I do a job that contributes to social inclusion and community development. My fee depends on the clients' ability to pay which is directly related to their fundraising which I also work on. I am very successful and well-thought-of in my field, but I earn less than DH.

We (as a family) do not value his work higher than mine. THAT to me is important. He is not 'the main breadwinner', he just has a higher salary. My job is not 'less important', in fact it is MORE important to society.

I would strongly object to any division of housework that reflected our relative incomes. To me the two statistics are not linked.

Wuldric Mon 22-Jul-13 11:17:44

ooh, I can link to it and I didn't think I would be able to - here

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 22-Jul-13 11:49:56

It's showing a log in page for me. But I can see the first graph smile

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 22-Jul-13 11:52:33

That's so true badguider. How many people work purely for the amount of money it brings into the house? Obviously, that is a responsibility of adults in a household, and does play a part in choosing a job, but money isn't always the only concern, otherwise everybody who could would be bankers and nobody would be a teacher or a nurse or a care worker or any of the other relatively lower paid jobs that people do for all sorts of reasons not involving money.

AutumnMadness Mon 22-Jul-13 12:54:37

These discussions about housework division depress me. Mainly because most comments end up blaming women. Women are usually advised one of the following:

1. Accurately measure your future male partner's housework and childcare ability before committing to them. Never commit to anyone who falls below expectations. It does not matter that we live in a society where most men do less housework than women and that if women never committed to men who did less than them, most women would never have a partner. And as for "accurate measurement" . . .

If you failed at Point 1, then you have two options:

2. Divorce/separate. It does not matter that you may become much poorer financially, lose your house, lose a companion that you might enjoy in ways non-housework-related, that your children will not see their father every day.

3. Change your man. But be aware that you can't "train" him as he is not a dog or a child. You can't possibly criticise his "standards" or supervise his work closely as it is demeaning to his sense of worth (if you find his work unsatisfactory you can go for option "2" above or do it yourself). You can't nag. You cannot do "his" jobs for him even if it means that there will be cockroaches breeding in your kitchen because he chooses to do dishes once a week or you and your children will have to walk on his piss because he chooses to wipe if off bathroom floor once a month.

So, ladies with men how do not hoover, you are screwed.

I am yet to see a sensible, realistic feminist discussion about housework here where most commentators don't go all "it's all your fault, look at me - my DH does loads!".

BlameItOnTheBogey Mon 22-Jul-13 13:10:55

I'm not sure Autumn. I see what you are saying but anything else is surely like marrying a man who doesn't shower more than once a week and then expecting him to realise for himself that this isn't ok. I agree that we should be in a place by now where chores/ child care are divided equally between men and women without question or discussion. But we aren't and so we do need to take action to bring this change about.

A genuine question because I do see where you are coming from: how else would you suggest we change the current dynamic?

I fall into your category of 'my DH does loads' and so I admit to questioning why other women tolerate their DH's not sharing the burden. I wouldn't have married someone who saw housework as my responsibility because I was female. I see that this puts the emphasis on women and in some cases blames them but what is the alternative?

AutumnMadness Mon 22-Jul-13 13:26:57

BlameItOnTheBogey surely housework is just like other aspects of life. And saying "you should not marry anyone who does not hoover" is the same as advising an abused woman "do not marry an abuser", or saying to the wife of an alcoholic "do not marry anyone who may develop a drink addiction in the future. All sensible, but is it actually helpful? There are all sorts of reasons why women end up with abusive men. It is exactly the same for housework.

You ask "why women tolerate?" What do you mean "tolerate"? Yes, some women just do not question the situation. But when a woman comes complains on MN about her DH not doing housework, she is already not tolerating it. So saying "don't tolerate" is just meaningless. The question is in how to do it.

And on this subject, I can only say that it is bloody hard work. I posted here loads in the past about my struggle for equal division of labour. I do not want a divorce as my DH has plenty of good sides that I love. I fight, I nag, I control, I set standards, for days, weeks, months and years on end. I've been continuously accused of undermining my DH's ego, masculinity, abusing his human rights, whatever. See my point 3 above. I can't win. According to most on MN, I am entirely unreasonable in trying to stay married and have and divide housework equally with my husband.

Wishihadabs Mon 22-Jul-13 13:29:15

Sorry did type a reply got eaten ! Yes DH can and does all that on the list. However he will not do it automatically in the same way I do..

badguider Mon 22-Jul-13 14:06:39

IMO women need to stop judging women on their housekeeping. I must have the hide of a rhino but I don't really care if people think our house is a bit dusty and if dh misses his mum's birthday then I don't feel the slightest spot of guilt - I haven't even got his mum's birthday in my diary because it's his responsibility not mine.

Quite a bit of conflict I think arises when a woman has been brought up by a mother of the generation who saw housework as womens work and invested self-pride in 'keeping a nice house' and then tries to create a shared chores household with their partner. Sharing the chores means letting go of that link between housekeeping and self-image.

Woodhead Mon 22-Jul-13 15:18:03

It is hard to recognise when you do things due to socialisation and stop yourself from doing them.

I know I have to actively stop and think about why I'm doing some things or why I feel I should be doing other things. Resisting the impulse to get on with things and to look after people can be really hard.

In terms of changing things; doing some sort of audit seems helpful. I liked one TV experiment where couples were filmed for a fixed time (around a week) and the time spent on different tasks was monitored and recorded. It's easy to slip into doing routine tasks because they're easy/convenient and not really realising that a partner just isn't doing a similar amount in either doing tasks or planning etc.

One of the problems in relationships is balancing the desire to be loving and caring and not wanting to bean count chores, and not allowing oneself to be a doormat.

scallopsrgreat Mon 22-Jul-13 16:19:34

I agree pretty much with everything you say Autumn except for feminists blaming women (although I'm not sure whether you meant that or whether you meant these discussions always involve blaming women). I think feminists examining the issue from a structural perspective rather than an individual level (the personal being political and all) can see how the odds are stacked against women achieving equality in a heterosexual relationship with regards housework and don't blame the women.

All the advertising is aimed at women. Women and men will have been influenced by their parents relationship and picked up roles from that. Any discussion around housework is always framed around women's behaviour: women should sort out their men/sons; women shouldn't judge other women; women shouldn't have such high standards. None of it is framed around men's behaviour and why they think it is OK to leave these tasks to women, women they are supposed to love and respect. Why don't they have 'high'* standards?

Then of course there are likely to be shifts within the relationship with regards housework. A man may do his fair share (or at least enough for you not to worry about it) until children come along and then women start picking up the bulk of the load and these men devolve responsibility for housework even when they are at home or the woman goes back to work.

And then there is terminology that is associated with housework. It is considered trivial to be arguing about. Women are nagging** or unrealistic about what men are expected to be able to do. Men are reduced to the status of child (only in this department mind you) where they suddenly become unable to think for themselves and 'blind' to dirt (yet still manage to drive a car - who'd have thunk?). All these are tactics designed to belittle women and the work they are doing and let men off. From a patriarchal point of view it suits men very much for women to be occupied with 'wifework' leaving them free to do the 'important' stuff or nothing at all!

Housework is a huge deal when it becomes apparent that your partner isn't showing you the respect you deserve in this area. It would be nice to shut up shop and leave it to the men but then children lose out on things because men don't organise themselves. And it isn't pleasant living in a tip.

I don't know what the solution is but it definitely involves men changing their behaviour and societal attitudes changing. I think it is one of the most important problems feminists face and it is a marker for equality.

* high being a euphemism for actually doing the job properly
** nagging being a euphemism for trying to get someone to pull their weight

badguider Mon 22-Jul-13 17:55:32

Interesting.. I do hear what you're saying about framing the discussion as the responsibility of women to change / do something different. But..

On mn and similar sites the question is always framed by a woman as 'what can I do about my situation' and so the answer is always going to be 'women' can do x, y or z.
Saying 'sorry, you can't do anything, the discussion has to be framed around what men should do' doesn't answer that immediate question.

And in fact, I can't see how the question is ever going to be raised other than from a women's perspective because for men who aren't doing their fair share there IS no 'problem' so they're not going to raise it.

I've been trying to think about this as compared to other groups who wanted the more powerful group to change but the only comparisons I can think of are around campaigning for a change in law, and I can't see how housework can be legislated... the social domain is so 'private' it's hard..

Wuldric Mon 22-Jul-13 18:47:24

I would strongly object to any division of housework that reflected our relative incomes. To me the two statistics are not linked.

It's not about linking the incomes so much as the number of hours involved. I work 60 hours per week with commuting on top. DH works 35 hours a week, two days a week at home. Clearly he just has more available hours to do more stuff.

badguider Mon 22-Jul-13 19:08:06

agreed. But i don't think you can assume on that graph that for every woman working more than 30 hours a week her husband is necessarily working far more hours just because he's earning more.

QuiteContent Mon 22-Jul-13 19:20:02

I dunno about this equality lark, but I for one am more than happy to be the househusband and do the chores while the better half works. She loves her job and I'm not really bothered about mine so it made sense.
In any case, I feel our kids are safer if I cook!
I will concede that she also does some housework, for two valid reasons.
One is that she likes to potter about in the evenings and does the odd job that can wait, and two, there's a genuine difference in our opinions as to what needs to be done. By that I mean my tolerance for a bit of untidiness seems to be a bit higher than hers.
It's about what works for each individual family, not striving to get to some magical statistic, but there does seem to be an unfair share of working mums with lazy arsed husbands.

BeeBawBabbity Mon 22-Jul-13 21:16:38

I agree with badguider, I don't see why income is relevant. I do more housework/cooking/organising kids than my husband despite earning the same wage, because I work part-time, often from home. This seems fair.

But I also agree with scallops that housework is still always seen as the woman's resposibility, regardless of hours worked, and that is very frustrating.

peteypiranha Mon 22-Jul-13 21:18:13

It doesnt have to feel like the womans responsibility if you are equal partners.

AutumnMadness Mon 22-Jul-13 21:59:19

scallopsrgreat, no, I definitely was not saying that feminists were blaming women. It was a more general discussion on attitudes common on MN. I would very much welcome a feminist discussion of the issue. And I completely agree with you that a feminist perspective illuminates the role of the social expectations and cultural baggage, and this would help not to make women out as some kind of superhuman creatures who should always have the strength to single-handedly defeat patriarchy in their own home or happily waltz off into singledom.

AutumnMadness Mon 22-Jul-13 22:02:46

peteypiranha, and how do you get to be equal partners? That's the question.

peteypiranha Mon 22-Jul-13 22:22:57

Marry someone who loves you, respects you and just always wants to make you happy.

AutumnMadness Mon 22-Jul-13 23:06:32

peteypiranha, with all due respect, do you really believe that I and millions of other women across the UK did not think of that?

I find it hard coping with differing expectations of housework.

My husband does pull his weight and doesn't think I should do more housework than he does. He works hard, does a lot of the shit I hate (laundry and the dishes being my main ones) and does 50% at least of the childcare.

However, he doesn't think the floor needs vacuuming until something dusty gets spilt on it, doesn't realise you have to change the bed linen every few days, thinks I'm a nutter for washing the towels so often. He always does the dishes but doesn't think you should disinfect and wipe all the kitchen surfaces (including under and around coffee pots and things) every night as well. So I end up going in and redoing some of it almost against my will. He has taken to doing all the laundry and gets a bit upset when he comes back and finds I've washed the skirting boards and tidied up the living room instead of relaxing or playing with the offspring like he'd hoped. Again, he likes a table stacked up with books and magazines and I like a clear surface. He seems to think I'm being uptight and I do confess I tell him off for being so messy, which is not really on, either- we both work hard.

Yes, I am the anal one and it's not a happy position to be in. I think he thinks I'm over the top but I promise I'm not cleaning windowsills with toothbrushes, just doing the minimum as I see it.

What should I do? Get arsey with him for being more relaxed? No. Do less housework? Possibly- but the idea of things living in the carpet plays on my mind. Just end up doing more and try to see it as a personal need, and not resent it? Trouble is, while I'm arsing around with the hoover, he is the one tending to the offspring, so it's not as though it gives him more leisure time.

Does anyone else have this problem?

YoniBottsBumgina Tue 23-Jul-13 20:27:38

I don't know Falcon, TBH, that sounds excessive to me - I think once a week is ample for bed linen, hoovering I do when the floor feels gritty or there is a visible dry spill, and there's no way I'd disinfect and wipe under things EVERY day, only the parts of the work surface which have been used. To me, that is the minimum and what you describe is quite far beyond that.

But I don't know if that means it's necessarily wrong? I know I (personally) am quite messy/laid back about housework and I just couldn't live with someone who had those kind of standards. DP is tidier than me but his minimum standards are close to my "good" standards so we are quite well balanced. When we live together I have to make far more effort than I would when we live apart but it balances out because he is obviously doing 50%ish too.

I don't know, though, how you compromise if your partner has lower standards than you do, especially if it makes you feel anxious if things aren't done the way you want them to be.

Wuldric Tue 23-Jul-13 21:57:34

Different standards in the home might be contributing to this issue. DH is fabulous at laundry and cleaning surfaces. But he somehow does not realise that the floor is also a surface that needs to be cleaned. And tidy drawers ... my oh my. DH thinks that if things are in drawers that they are tidy .... NO NO NO. Drawers crammed full of shit are untidy drawers.

Why does he not get this?

<tears hair out>

rainrainandmorerain Tue 23-Jul-13 22:25:06

Autumnmadness - AGREE, agree, agree. God, these threads get so woman-blamey, it's ridiculous.

A woman can have a male partner who loves her deeply, and wants her to be happy - but his own assumptions and attitudes are so deeply ingrained when it comes to running a household that he simply does not do the same amount of work as her.

we are all to some degree products of the society we were raised in. I sometimes think only counselling and cognitive therapy would be enough to change my dp's behaviour around housework and household organisation. He is well read on feminist theory, and gender imbalance. In theory he is all up for sharing. In practice... I always have to ask him to do what he is supposed to be doing. He is quite squalid so leaving him to it is hard. I once left the washing up to see how long it would take him to do his plates without 'nagging' from me. After 8 days and flies laying eggs in the food dirt, I yelled at him. He was genuinely shocked it had been that long. He'd been busy, you see. Working.

Things just don't make it on to his 'to do' list enough. Yes, they should. No, I shouldn't have to tell him, or do it myself. But there we are. By the way, all of this 'gosh it's so simple, why DO women get themselves in this position' commentary overlooks the reality of how couples get together. I didn't in my post student twenties audition prospective husbands on their housekeeping skills. My own understandin of what running a family household with children and 2 working partners would be like was pretty sketchy back then. And people do have a tendency to put their best foot forwards in the early days of a relationship... I did not know how little my partner would voluntarily do around the house after more than ten years together. He probably didn't expect me to put on 2 stone either.

I do what I can, but undoing decades of social and familial conditioning that tells a man he is doing enough just by earning money is asking a lot of one woman.

peteypiranha Wed 24-Jul-13 07:04:36

Themaltesefalcon personally I thino you have very high standards, and would very much struggle to meet yours.

peteypiranha Wed 24-Jul-13 07:07:04

Social and family conditioning nowadays says men should be a lot more than working, as the majority of women work. I dont know any man that actually believes he should do nothing, but a lot that slate their women behind their backs for actually doing it all.

kim147 Wed 24-Jul-13 07:08:20

Differing expectations can cause issues in a relationship - one persons tidy and clean can be very different to anothers and if someone is obsessed with continuously cleaning and expecting the other to do the same when they think it's clean enough will cause friction.

Not that I'm talking from personal experience or anything grin

peteypiranha Wed 24-Jul-13 07:15:37

An example of this would be my dh recently bought a hoover, and it came up in conversation with the lads at work. Dh said it was worth getting as was really powerful, and made a difference. One of them said he was going to get it. The other man said I have never hoovered in my life, get her to do it what does she do all day? Sit on her ass? Dh said no she works. The other guy said I dont care you will never ever see me doing that kind of thing. hmm

All right, I will try to be less tight-sphinctered if the consensus is that my standards are a bit high. The world won't cave in. Probably.

That said... Wuldric, YES about the floors and the drawers. Though it annoys me, as a feminist, that I even give a shit, really.

rainrainandmorerain Fri 26-Jul-13 10:57:31

I think the 'different standards' thing is a bit of a red herring.

I think it obscures the reality that a lot of men simply do not do ENOUGH in the home. It isn't that they 'just do it differently'. If I drive the family car around with tyres that aren't up to pressure, never check the water level and need reminding how and when to measure oil each time, then I am not doing car maintenance 'differently' - I'm just not doing it.

When I think about the number of shared households I have lived in, and the female flat mates I have had, I've never had real issues with women and how they do things. Small irritations, sure - and them with me - but they were always fundamentally hygienic. And we were almost always quite able to adjust our various ways of doing things and expectations to be able to share a living space fairly happily. So from this, I will draw the conclusion that it is not my failure to compromise on my extraordinarily high and inflexible standards of household organisation that is causing problems. It is that men in general, including my partner, simply do not participate and pull their weight at household level.

It depends on what level men contribute, of course - I am still laughing at the poster who mentioned that she wasn't moving the half a lime and knife or whatever it was that her partner had left on a kitchen surface. Well.... That's not even 'mess' in my house, we have got much bigger fish to fry.

rainrainandmorerain Fri 26-Jul-13 11:08:47

Re: being annoyed as a feminist that you give a shit about floors and drawers...

It doesn't matter, surely, if you care about floors and drawers because life is easier when you know where to find things - when you aren't tripping over a load of things scattered over the floor - when cleaning the floors sometimes means you aren't trackjng dirt round the house - when using drawers for storing stuff you need and use means they aren't becoming dustbins for mini hoards, and rifling through junk is stealing time you could use doing something more constructive.

I see that as just making sure you have a living environment that works for you, rather than you being overwhelmed by your living environment. I think there IS something feminist in there - particularly in making sure everyone in the household contributes to that.

After all - 'traditional' housework done by women was what ennabled men's lives to run smoothly, wasn't it? I want my life to run smoothly too - I just don't want to be the only one in the house responsible for it.

However, if I feel a pressure to keep things clean and tidy because I think I will be judged on it, as a woman being responsible for the household - then that's the wrong presssure, isn't it. Keeping the utility room tidy, and expecting others to do so too, because then we can all find and use the things we want, is one thing. Keeping it tidy on my own because I feel defensive about comments I've had from other women in the family about mess, directed at me alone (even though they know I am the main earner...) - well, that's not ok.

Just trying to separate all this out because I don't think the message 'feminists don't clean' is a very helpful one.

peteypiranha Sat 27-Jul-13 07:18:48

rainrain - We have labelled storage. Everything is in a labelled drawer by 7pm. The dc arent allowed to leave any toys out after this time. Dd1 is responsible for her own room and knows which drawer everything goes in. Same in our bedroom everything is labelled so when dh washs and hangs out clothes everything must go in its named drawer.

This way anyone can do it, dd1 is 5 and has her room completely tidy every night.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Sat 27-Jul-13 09:20:48

I think scallopsrgreat is utterly correct, and that is the crux of it; that it's a men's problem, and it has to be rectified by men. Not by us.

But the thing is, this solves the problem at a population level; not at an individual household level, and so until there is a sea-change in attitudes, there will be individual women banging their heads against brick walls.

I always try to reassure myself by thinking that no matter how bad things are, we have still come a long way. And there's no reason to think that won't continue, that thinks will keep on improving, albeit slowly, maybe.

kim147 Sat 27-Jul-13 10:58:58

Labelled storage and named drawers. Not sure if I could handle all that organisation grin

Tortington Sat 27-Jul-13 11:17:07

a wise mumsnetter once said it;s about bum time. we married stupidly young and effectively grew up together. so for me this is interesting to analyse. we both work full time in the same industry but i live ten mins from work and dh travels extensively. i have more bum time. i cook each evening. unless he is home first. but i do 'project manage' the division of labour. no nagging just organization. my standards are not high. i do not think i am predisposed to housework. he isn't either.

StickEmUp Sat 27-Jul-13 13:22:41

This is interesting and I think the back drop is:

Example: the other night I did a wash which happened to be a load of undies. I washed, and put away lots of socks and boxers for DH.

This morning, he re-sprayed my bonnet on the car (various reasons)

So basically you have a radfem here doing a female job and a DH doing a male job.

Oh, let's go back and put inverted commas round our sex.

Basically some where along the line I learnt how to do a wash (he knows too!!) but I don't know hoe to re spray a car.

The fact that our 'genders' meant we learnt to do certain things is a big question.

Why was he into cars and I wasnt?

Should I say, fuck it you do the washing and i'll bodge up the bonnet?
Should I have a go? Or take a lesson on re spraying? Download a 'how to'.

I am saying this asking why at some point do we section out to 'female' and 'male' jobs.

I'm pretty sure I've not thought of car repair as a man's job but that's how it panned out.

Conlusion: stamp out 'gender' politics and we'll all be on a more even keel.

StickEmUp Sat 27-Jul-13 13:24:14

Sorry, not sure my 'stamp out' line was quite what I meant.


AutumnMadness Sat 27-Jul-13 21:51:32

StickEmUp, I somehow seriously doubt that you cannot re-spray the car. I am sure that after a few simple explanations and maybe a couple of blotched attempts you would be able to do just as well as you husband.

Also - does you husband re-spray the car every day? I bet not. But socks and undies need washing pretty much daily. I find that most of traditionally male household jobs are things that do not require daily effort. They are occasional big things. And in the modern world, I find that women shoulder them too. MN is full of women who have full responsibility for paying bills, fixing cars, arranging insurance, supervising builders and so on.

AutumnMadness Sat 27-Jul-13 22:04:12

Ok, I tried to think about Autumn's rules of household management. This was inspired by the debate about standards. For me, stuff needs to be:

1. Hygienic. This does not mean sprayed with domestos five times a day, but things like perishable foods must be put in the fridge, surfaces washed after handling chicken, washed dishes not being greasy.

2. Uncluttered. This does not mean spartan minimalism, but do we need small piles of receipts, used tissues, coins and defunct USB sticks on every open surface?

3. Organised. I like a tidy wardrobe so I don't have to spend half an hour looking for a matching pair of socks in the morning. Socks must be matched. Organised house is a user-friendly house.

4. Reasonably clean. I don't mind a bit of fluff on the floor, but we should not be manoeuvring in between puddles of milk and weetabix.

5. Efficient. Life is much easier when said weetabix is cleaned off the floor straight after it lands there. If it is allowed to sit, it turns into cement and takes hours to scrape off. So some stuff just needs to be done like now.

6. Reasonably aesthetically pleasing. No requirement for ikebanas, but streaked knickers on the floor are not acceptable.

That's about it.

AutumnMadness Sat 27-Jul-13 22:09:29

peteypiranha, I don't think the problem is that men don't know how to do things. Sorry, but it does not take a PhD to remember which drawer the socks are in. I think the problems, if they are present, are mainly of two kinds: 1) Men don't want to know (often unconsciously), and 2) Men know but don't want to do it (also often unconsciously).

peteypiranha Sun 28-Jul-13 07:27:35

The system helps me as well. Every single thing in this place has a home. Dh and I know the exact location of everything.

comingintomyown Sun 28-Jul-13 08:13:21

When I was married XH did an equal share of everything and was always described as being "so good" as in it was noteworthy.

I couldnt tolerate inequality of household work and I look at some of my friends and wonder how they put up with it but I dont think they even realise to be honest.

My DS is 17 and I have always given him chores to do and latterly chores like cleaning the toilet. He hates it and clearly feels that he shouldnt be doing it but when I ask him why its then ok for me to do it he doesnt have an answer. At some level he thinks the division of work should only include "manly" chores for him. I find it very depressing and odd as he has always seen his Dad doing housework so where does his attitude come from ?

rainrainandmorerain Sun 28-Jul-13 10:46:44

Oh Autumn. Move in with me. That is my list exactly.

The little piles of receipts, coins, batteries, crumpled leaflets, single contact lenses, empty envelopes and yes, usb sticks - why? why? drive me round the bend. I think of them as dp's 'droppings'. He seems to excrete them around the house, little dumpy piles everytime he sees an uncluttered surface.

It's a chronic result of not tackling things sooner rather than later. If that pile doesn't get instantly sorted - receipts kept if important, in recycling if not, along with leaflets for churches and pizza, coins in tin (dp does not use a wallet...), contact lenses and usb sticks in wherever the fuck they are supposed to be... if that's not all sorted out quickly, it just gets pushed to the side and added to. Not my job to sort it out. although I often do. And no, if I leave it, he does not do it. Ever.

comingintomyown - you may have set an admirable example in your own house - but other families, media, adverts, telly, books, radio shows, you name it, are all still sexist. This is why I don't go down the 'blame the mother if her partner doesn't pull their weight' road. We live in a sexist society. Our sons and daughters will still be raised in it, atm, and while examples on the home front obviously have a huge impact, it's only one part of the picture. (Same with things like girls and body image - mothers may have a fabulous attitude towards figure, food and weight - but dd's are still influenced by idols and peers).

Btw, the 'not having an answer' thing you mention about your son interests me a lot. My dp is, on an intellectual level, all signed up for equality and would never argue for a gendered division of labour. He's called himself a feminist before now. But....he still does not put his hand up to do domestic tasks, often has to be nagged, and often reacts in a sulky or angry way to being asked to do things. 'I don't have time, I'm WORKING...' etc is a response I get. (Me too - I'm the main earner in the house, btw).

He does not keep a list in his head of things to be done. He waits for me to ask him then gets shirty when I ask him. Because he hasn't been thinking about it, it comes out of the blue. He just doesn't make space for the ADMIN in his head - term times, birthdays, etc etc. Anyway - the 'not having an answer' thing kicks in when I identify a particular task, and ask 'who did you think was going to do that?' or, 'you're busy, I'm busy, why am I doing this?'

He just doesn't have an answer (and often gets quite angry). Because actually answering it would force a cognitive clash to the surface. He KNOWS and BELIEVES that he should share domestic duties. But he FEELS like he shouldn't. On a deep, cognitive, emotional, in his bones way. He wouldn't admit that - but it is how he behaves.

comingintomyown Mon 29-Jul-13 08:48:42

I totally agree with your last paragraph re my DS too that is exactly how he thinks. He is a lovely boy and has supported me right through the last few years and is quite angelic really. However this area is where conflict comes in and I have found myself finally after years of being quietly persistent and not giving in starting to go down the its easier to do it myself route.

He is spending time living with his Dad over the school holidays , I know there he has extensive chores and XH and his GF dont stand for any nonsense.

I have decided to regroup and find a different approach to my DC (DD is 14 and a little better) and chores starting in September as ultimately it isnt easier to do it yourself because whilst physically it may be mentally I resent it hugely and its quite corrosive.

Exactly as you say though men dont have an open to do list in their minds and I think from experience left to themselves they would live in untidiness and eat beans from a tin without a care.

78bunion Mon 29-Jul-13 09:11:52

Plenty of women do not tolerate sexist men even from day 1 and ensure there is a fair and non sexist division of jobs.

I don't like sexist generalisations that men have no to do list. Plenty of men have systems for washing and putting clothes away, are responsible for children rather than just "helping". Obviously one avoids sexist men in choosing a partner if you are a feminist.

rainrainandmorerain Mon 29-Jul-13 10:15:48

what a dogmatic and dismissive post, 78bunion. And how very woman blamey.

"obviously one avoids sexist men in choosing a partner if one is a feminist"

I think you need to understand a bit more about how living under the patriarchy affects people. for a start, many of us are not born feminists. We become feminists through our life experiences and how we understand them. I for one was not the kind of feminist I am now in my twenties. My own understanding of what it took to run a household and family were very different. I did not audition prospective partners on their ability to schedule cleaning. (I just assumed, more fool me, that as young liberal men in the 20th century, they would be able to do it).

the patriarchy also (obviously) affects men. I genuinely think, from looking at friends' relationships, that the phenomenon of 'intellectual feminist male still doesn't participate in household and family organisation enough' is very real. Rome wasn't built in a day, and attitudes that are CENTURIES old do not vanish overnight, more's the pity.

Also, some basic understanding that WANTING to do better and actually changing very ingrained behaviour patterns are not the same thing. If they were, no one would be overweight or habitually late, for example.

Structural sexism is also a huge factor. We have a system whereby the overwhelming amount of infant and child care is undertaken by mothers. Not fathers. A year's worth of maternity leave where a non working mother takes on not just the hands on childcare, but the cleaning and running of a household, EVEN IF THAT HAS NOT BEEN THE PATTERN OF THE RELATIONSHIP TO DATE pretty much ensures that will be the template from then on. Especially if they then work reduced hours or earn less than the father.

I don't buy the argument that it is silly non feminist women who are responsible for men who have not been raised to take on household duties. As a feminist woman, I do the best I can with a partner who has a big tendency to 'backslide' to his default setting of 'don't do much.'

A useful analogy is perhaps people who don't exercise. If you are raised in a house where no one takes physical exercise, it is simply not something that gets on your radar. You can understand that exercise is a good and necessary thing - that you would benefit from it yourself, even if it is hard work - and that it is something you should do. But if will be harder for the person who has never had it included in their world to take it up than for the person who saw their parents exercise, who did sports clubs at school and established good habits in their youth.

Last point - in your post, 78bunion, you say that plenty of women 'ensure there is a fair and non sexist division of jobs.' That made me laugh. Why is is the WOMAN'S job to do that?? Surely in their clever selection of a male partner uncontaminated in any way by the patriarchy, they would have chosen a partner who could do that THEMSELVES? Well well. I guess those silly women have only themselves to blame.

rainrainandmorerain Mon 29-Jul-13 10:23:38

Read this too - an interview with Justine MN. She talks about exactly that division of labour in the home I was. "... he agrees in priniciple but it's the practice you have to keep on at." Silly down trodden woman! Should have chosen her husband with more care, eh?


Interestingly, I am at the 'more militant" stage, as she puts it. I find myself shouting and shouting. Shouldn't have to, obviously. But you work with what you have.

78bunion Mon 29-Jul-13 10:57:51

However it is true that plenty of us do not tolerate sexism from men even for one day. That is not to say that I am blaming women but personal responsibility matters. Equal marriage involves the man as much as the woman initiating discussions about cleaning and other duties.

peteypiranha Mon 29-Jul-13 12:14:50

rainrainrain - I think it very much matters on an individual level. My mum and dad did 50/50 each, and until I came on here it wouldnt occur to me to accept anything less. I wasnt even aware it was so prevelant, and thought it was the minority who dont have men that do as much as them. If you dont put up with it, its practically guarnteed your children wont ime.

peteypiranha Mon 29-Jul-13 12:26:37

I also think you have to ensure that your daughters most make sure a man proves he is worthy enough of being with her. My mum always used to say that to me when growing up. My dh used to do lots of household chores for me from about week 1 of us being together.

FreyaSnow Mon 29-Jul-13 12:30:26

I agree with Autumn. I know lots of women whose husbands do not do housework or childcare. This is a way their husbands started behaving after they had kids, presumably because they know once women have had children their options are massively reduced.

Ultimately, the only sanction a woman has if her husband will not do housework or childcare is to leave him. Many women feel that it is not in their children's interests to be poorer/move schools/lose their home/live in a more dangerous area/not see their father/lose pets if they move into rented accommodation etc etc. So they stay until the kids leave home. Then they get divorced.

It isn't that women don't realise what's happening. It's that they make themselves not think about it so they can keep sane, just like going to a job everyday that you don't really like.

happybubblebrain Mon 29-Jul-13 12:31:52

As a single parent I bring 100% of the income home.
I also cook 100% of the meals and do 100% of all housework.
That's fine by me and much better than living with a man.
They are making themselves redundant.

rainrainandmorerain Mon 29-Jul-13 12:55:12

petey - I think individual example is extremely important, and becomes more so when you are trying to do something that goes against the dominant ideology (i.e raise children in a non sexist household).

But it can be hard - and it is no guarantee. Daughters can still get eating disorders when parents have done an amazing job in terms of reinforcing positive body image and a healthy approach to food. There is a poster on this thread upset that despite her dp always doing household tasks, so setting a good and visible example, her teenage son seems to have the idea that it's not really his role to behave the same way. I expect the reasons why are complex and varied - but I'd be pointing one finger at lad 'culture'. So many comedies, dramas etc show loveable young men living incompetently in squalor and chaos, and having a jolly good laugh about it all. It's almost like the message is 'nice guys don't clean.'

I appreciate your partner may have shared household tasks equally with you from week 1. I never moved in with my partners on week one! My dp and I lived in different towns for the first year of our relationship. We stayed alternate weekends in our respective rented accommodations and ate out a lot. The different understanding of division of labour isn't something that is necessarily immediately apparent.

One thing I notice with my own dp is that when he gets busier with work, he is very quick to drop his contribution to the household in terms of tasks/organisation. Obviously, the more you work the harder it is - but when I am busier, I don't automatically exempt myself from other things. I just try and find different ways of fitting them in. And yes, occasionally, things just get so mad workwise that you really can't do much at all - but the POINT at which I exempt myself happens a lot later than it does for my DP. I can see this is down to very different attitudes to work and household responsibilities, some of which he isn't even aware of, and doesn't want to admit.

That sort of thing is not evident 'up front'' and can be quite hard to see immediately when it happens.

FreyaSnow - I agree with your post. I think a lot of inequity kicks in, or gets worse, after children arrive.

rainrainandmorerain Mon 29-Jul-13 13:09:22

Btw - I do think this whole issue is a blind spot for men AND women.

If we were talking about work, and discussed a work place where men and women did equal jobs, but the women were routinely expected to clean the office, empty the bins, order and distribute all the office goods and negotiate the utilities contracts, on top of what the men did and for no extra pay - well, we'd all see the injustice.

If we pointed out that men were leaving the offices at half five and going to the gym or the pub, or seeing friends or doing an evening course, etc, but the women weren't getting to leave until gone 7 because they were doing the cleaning, tidying and admin - again, we'd all see the injustice.

But men don't see that that is the way THEY are behaving - that their lack of participation is puts their partners in such an unfair position.

And women would blame the employer for being such an exploitative bastard - not blame the women for working there in the first place, or telling them that it is their fault they are treated that badly.

Blind spots all round, I say.

peteypiranha Mon 29-Jul-13 13:11:29

I didnt move in straight away either, but I still had dh doing lots of stuff for me. If he wanted me he had to prove he was good enough for me.

rainrainandmorerain Mon 29-Jul-13 13:20:25

petey - tell me if you can, cos I am interested! you weren't living with your current partner from week 1 but he was doing 'lots of stuff' for you because you wanted him to prove he was worthy of you -

Can you say more specifically what they were?

because my partner did a lot for me when we were first together - booked me rail tickets, took me to the theatre, shared some amazing books with me, introduced me to great music and films, introduced me to to some fascinating philosophy and cultural criticism, explored exciting places with me - bought me flowers and all that!

But he didn't come round and vacuum my flat, or research local plumbers, or plan a weekly foodshop, or wash my towels. It's these things we struggle with now. I can still say, hand on heart, that if I want a recommendation for a classic 90s Danish film, he will be my first port of call.

So please, tell me! what did your dp do in those early pre-living together days?

peteypiranha Mon 29-Jul-13 13:45:38

He used to inorn all my uniform, clean and buff my shoes etc. I had a forces job so he used to do all that for me. He used to cook me dinner, and clean my place after we had parties at mine which were a weekly thing. I didnt ask him to he just did it all cause he wanted to impress me.

rainrainandmorerain Mon 29-Jul-13 13:55:01

petey, now I know you are ex-forces, your home organisation skills all make sense! smile

At a guess, the military must be quite a good place for young men (and women) to learn how to be hygienic and tidy and look after yourself. I could probably benefit from the household equivalent of British Military Fitness. We could bring back conscription for dp...

peteypiranha Mon 29-Jul-13 14:00:29

Oh no I wasnt at the time I was a complete tramp. I still cant iron a shirt now, its not my kind of thing. Thats why dh did it all for me as if I didnt do it right we couldnt be together as I wasnt allowed out until it was right.

comingintomyown Mon 29-Jul-13 14:13:34

There are men out there who do their share my XH was one of them but most of my friends described him as so good rather than thinking it was the norm.

In my close circle I know of only one DH who is like this.

Like someone said I am a single parent and do 80% of the work load at home and I manage fine. With only DD here its a doddle really. I make the DC do chores to earn their allowance and lately because they need to see with privilege comes responsibility.

These boards are chocca with women who have lazy partners and I have a great deal of sympathy because love will tend to make you forgive more and also DC in the equation make it harder to just up and leave.

I would be happy to have a man in my life but no way would I ever live with one again and this issue is at the top of the list of why.

rainrainandmorerain Mon 29-Jul-13 16:03:49

hmm. Here's a sign of how different our perspectives are. When my do goes away for a couple of days, his attitude is 'how will you manage without me?'

My feeling is 'it's so much easier to look after things when you're not here.'

Not that there aren't other advantages to him being there - he spends time with the dcs, they love him, he is another adult in the house to talk to etc. But not having to cope with his mess and the expectation or hope that he will do stuff unprompted makes me more peaceful.

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