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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.


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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