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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.


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.

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