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God, this is depressing

(34 Posts)
Thurlow Wed 13-Jan-16 10:12:21

Father shuns household tasks

DM I know (in my defence I actually have to read the DM for work, which is both great and depressing in equal measures) but... I'm lost for words. Though not surprised, after some of the stuff I read on here.

Now I don't want to start a bunfight but it does get me thinking, is it someone's fault? Surely someone who gets away with doing nothing around the house at all gets away with it because someone else does it for them, and that someone else just gets on with the shit jobs and doesn't force their partner to help out. I'll say partner, though tbh it does seem more like men than women who avoid the boring household work.

Without picking on the people in the article, one woman blames her mother in law for mollycoddling her husband. Which it very much sounds like she does. But it got me thinking - is there someone to "blame"? (Apologies for using the words 'blame' and 'fault', I know it is not as clearcut as all that but my brain is refusing to work properly this morning and find the word I want). Is it mothers who have done everything for their DC and not taught them they need to pull their weight around the house? Is it partners who accept that their OH isn't pulling their weight around the house?

BertrandRussell Wed 13-Jan-16 10:31:29

There are several current threads on here that are equally depressing.

rogueantimatter Wed 13-Jan-16 10:35:03

Good question!

IMO girls/women are still culturally conditioned to be 'caring'. Homemaker comes into this category.

More men than women don't mind living in squalor?

Men are much more likely to be selfish - just not willing to give their time up.

I was dismayed to hear my DD's (now ex) 19YO BF who she shared a flat with laughingly tell me that his DF had admitted to deliberately making a bad job of a household chore in order to not be asked to do it again. (I told him my feelings about that!) Ex bf and his DF are very thoughtful people who try to live ethically - but it doesn't seem to extend to spending any time on household stuff.

DD said that she agreed with the argument that as she had higher standards of cleanliness and tidiness than him it was fair enough that she do more housework (despite being busier than him).

IMO many men view housework (and caring) as beneath them.

DS (16) has a lovely lovely friend who is very thoughtful and mature - but he's very entitled as far as domestic stuff goes. Getting him to bring his dirty plates etc to the kitchen or take a turn doing the dishwasher on a shared holiday was more bother than it was worth.

I share your depression.

rogueantimatter Wed 13-Jan-16 10:37:36

Are women in general too fussy about having a clean and tidy household? I don't think I am but my house is below average as far as being tidy and nicely decorated goes.

Thurlow Wed 13-Jan-16 11:17:48

I wonder where it comes from, though? Is it social? Is it from parents?

It surely can't be something genetic, that women prefer a tidier house than men do...

sleepyhead Wed 13-Jan-16 11:24:30

Men (NAMALT hmm) are generally more ok with living in squalor because they know (or don't even think about the possibility) that they will be judged on it.

I am a naturally untidy person and also quite lazy. I have to work hard at keeping my environment clean and tidy. I do it because a) it's depressing to live in squalor and b) I would be mortified for anyone to see the state it sometimes gets in to.

I was brought up by my mother, and from comments heard in real life and read on here this is a common perception, that lack of care of my home environment made a statement about me - a woman who doesn't clean to society's standard is a slattern, lazy, uncaring, unhygienic etc.

I don't believe that men (NAMALT) are brought up with the same internalisation re: domestic environment reflecting their worth as a person.

JessicasRabbit Wed 13-Jan-16 11:51:07

I think its probably a combination of upbringing, partner and societal expectations. But there must be some sort of personality thing involved too. I was absolutely brought up to do my fair share of housework, but now I live on my own I get away with doing as little as possible.

With the upbringing, I'd be more inclined to "blame" fathers who do naff all around the house, giving DSs the impression that women do housework.

With partners, I'd wonder if that's how the partner was brought up to. My parents shared childcare and housework outside of working hours (mum was a SAHP) so I always thought of those things as being the responsibility of everyone in the household.

MephistophelesApprentice Wed 13-Jan-16 12:01:36

I think women's focus on cleaning is an active patriarchal socialisation tactic, as sleepyhead has said. It's an deliberate attempt to limit their perspective to the sphere they have been assigned, give them a greater sense of illusory control over their lives and add additional layers of disruptive stress to their head space.

The male 'not-really-caring' effect is less a product of active socialisation and more a lack of negative programming.

rogueantimatter Wed 13-Jan-16 13:49:39

That makes absolute sense.

I'm always grateful to discover homes that are as untidy as mine as it makes me feel better than mine. And I sometimes feel intimidated and inferior to women who have beautiful homes.

Should more women embrace the mess?

Otoh, a clean and tidy home can be such a restful haven. There's a balance.

rogueantimatter Wed 13-Jan-16 13:54:09

feel better about mine - yes, have clearly internalised the idea that women ought to be homemakers. The four women I know whose homes are as messy as mine are all IMO very intelligent interesting women. Hmmmm.

Thurlow Wed 13-Jan-16 14:00:17

Personality, definitely - I actually grew up in a traditional dad at work, mum at home doing everything set up and it hasn't seemed to have made a huge impact, I neither do everything nor militantly expect my OH to do everything for me.

negative programming

That's a very interesting term. But I get stuck wondering whether it is women who have been 'programmed' to do the housework etc, or men who have been 'programmed' to not do the housework. Because there's quite a difference there.

Looking at (but not referring specifically to) some of the threads you see on here, what saddens me most is that it feels less like men who don't want to do the housework, and more like women who 'accept' that they should do it all, and don't insist their OH does their fair share.

LumelaMme Wed 13-Jan-16 14:14:06

I do most of the housework as I WFH, but DH has a much lower mess-and-muck threshold than I do, so ends up doing things when he's at home.

The idea of 'negative programming' is interesting. To an extent you have to be taught to a) see what needs doing and b) how to do it. Otherwise you grow into a perpetual 12 yr old, leaving a trail of dirty plates and smelly socks behind you. Women are still more likely to be taught both a) and b) than their brothers - and, yes, to internalise it.

NationalTrustLadyGardens Wed 13-Jan-16 15:02:38

It is a mix of all these factors definitely and I grapple with what is actually the root of it all.

Using my own friends and family as exemplars, I agree that men are far more likely than women to be quite happy living in stinking squalor. I am not happy living in stinking squalor so I do far more than my fair share of housework, but a perhaps part of this is the fear of my mother turning up and going apeshit at me about it and calling me a lazy madam. Despite the fact I'm almost 50 grin

It is not funny though. I have sons and I they are expected to pull their weight in the house. But I still foreesee the cycle perpetuating itself through the generations.

My wealthy and retired ex-PIL would never lift a finger to help us when the children were young and when we were both working FT and were were really struggling. Now we are divorced and exH lives on his own MIL goes round to his house twice a week and does all his housework and cleaning and prepares his meals 'because he's so busy and he needs to relax'.

EnthusiasmDisturbed Wed 13-Jan-16 15:12:46

no the responsibility when you are an adult is on you - if you choose to be lazy that is your choice others may facilitate that but you still make that choice

i never did anything growing up, i was allowed to iron once (soon got bored) i was occasionally allowed to make a simple meal, i probably washed up more times at friends houses, i don't remember ever hovering or putting a wash on

unusual circumstances i went to live with me grandparents when i was 4 and for the first few years my nanny was working so my granddad did the cooking, clearing up, ironing etc (not all) then once my nanny retired she did everything and hated anyone else doing anything that was her role

i left home at 17 and managed, it was installed in me that i am capable i think that is the difference and all partners i have been with i expect them to share household chores, not all have wanted to but they have it wasn't really up for discussion - one did expect me to iron his work shirts and was genuinely shocked when i questioned him why he thinks i would want to

grimbletart Wed 13-Jan-16 15:14:12

Also worth factoring in that people who are happy to wash their dirty linen in public (literally in the case of this TV programme) and like their 15 minutes of fame may not be entirely typical.

NB I am not disagreeing with any of the above comments grin

TheJiminyConjecture Wed 13-Jan-16 15:25:30

I would be interested to know how much relationship status makes a difference?

When I was early twenties I lived in a shared house with 3 men of the same age. I took over the room from another man (we were all friends). It was a typical shared house, most of the time it was clean and tidy. Each bedroom reflected the general attitudes of the owner and levels of tidiness etc. No difference when they had a partner or were single.

The single men that I know, all live in immaculate homes, no exceptions.

The only homes I've been in that were awful in terms of hygiene were those belonging to married couples.

Do these men who manage to live independently and in lovely home environments when single, suddenly lose the ability when they marry?

rogueantimatter Wed 13-Jan-16 15:25:49

How far do other posters go along with the housework (in a shored home) is a form of caring school of thought? I ask - apologies if this wouldn't be a Q you'd ask Thurlow? I ask because women are much more likely to do all sorts of caring from full time children, sick, elderly to little acts of care like sending cards and presents, asking how things are going etc.

Thurlow Wed 13-Jan-16 15:41:08

That's a good point, Jiminy - though thinking of one particular male friend, it was probably very clean because he paid a cleaner and lived on oven meals grin

It does seem to be more in a relationship that things change and the share slides. At least going from what friends complain about, and people post on here. Is it men giving up, or women taking over? I appreciate once you get into the realms of having a SAHP then things can change quite quickly and dramatically and that's potentially a much bigger discussion (i.e. relating to age of DC, DC's personality etc). But why do some men give up completely? Why do some women take over?

I have a sneaky suspicion, which is little more than a gut feeling over 5+ years of reading MN, that...

1 - A lot of men of a slightly older generation went from having their mum do everything, to having their wife do everything, and so just passed the buck

2 - A lot of men get very, very quickly used to having a SAHP and decide that if they are earning all the money, the least their partner can do to "earn" their money is doing everything at home

3 - A lot of women have somehow been brought up to accept that they start taking over this stuff.

I know there's no real answer to all of this, in terms of where it comes from. It must be a mix of societal upbringing and expectation.

It depresses me when you read it so often on MN - "my husband is so incompetent, he can't do a thing..." I want to say, no, you're letting him get away with it. And isn't the onus then as much on women to say - sod off, love, and pull your own weight? Isn't there more there that is teaching women to do it, than teaching men not to do it?

TheJiminyConjecture Wed 13-Jan-16 15:57:47

I think your point 2 goes further than those couples with a sahp. I believe it starts as soon as maternity leave begins and in many cases continues when the woman returns to work.

In some cases I think the whole "Oh my husband is so useless" <tinkly laugh> is actually the woman refusing to let the man do things because "He does them wrong/not the way I do etc". I know one woman who left a get together early because her sister was babysitting. When asked where her husband was, she said he was at home but she wanted her sister there to make sure he did everything right! Her dc is 2 days older than DD2 and we're going to be returning to work at a similar time. I just know she'll be broken trying to do everything but she won't let him "help".

Thurlow Wed 13-Jan-16 16:11:26


One thing that always intrigues me when I see conversations about the man being useless is whether the woman just has ridiculously high expectations?

NationalTrustLadyGardens Wed 13-Jan-16 16:23:50

I agree Thurlow with your last paragraph, but when he just won't, what then?

I think certain household jobs need doing once a week at least. My DH disagrees. So if I ask him to do someting and he says 'I don't think it needs doing' you do rather reach an impasse. It's not like there's a rulebook. Therefore if I want it done I have to do it myself. I know MN is keen to say LTB wink But most of us are not going to do that if he has 1001 other things going for him and overall you're happy.

Also, can you just imagine the uproar if a man came on here and said 'my wife is lazy and incompetent at housework'? I can't see MNetters saying 'oh but you're letting her get away with it'.

OneFlewOverTheDodosNest Wed 13-Jan-16 16:26:54

Stealing from another thread, but a good way of deciding whether expectations are too high is to imagine what would happen if both people adopted the lower standards.
- Would the family eat nutritious meals?
- Would the children be clean and in clean clothes?
- Would there be clean crockery to eat off?
- Would the house be in a clean enough state to not concern a SW?
- Would adults remain presentable enough (through clean clothes) for work?

TPel Wed 13-Jan-16 16:36:57

I despair. I have just seen an advert for
Cancer research. The man jokes that when he entered remission he bought himself a motorbike and his wife, sitting next to him, a toaster. Now I realise that this is not 'real life' but the fact that the charity thinks that this is funny, is soul destroying.

I truly believe that these attitudes won't stop until women stop pandering to men. So what if he can't cook - he can learn, so what if he can't turn on a washing machine- he can wear filthy clothes until he puts them in a machine and presses a couple of buttons.

WilLiAmHerschel Wed 13-Jan-16 16:55:03

This was true of the majority of the six families they followed, with Jill Demirel, from Beckenham, at her wit's end at having to clean up after her husband and three sons - all while dressed in her finery.
'I try to look good as well because these days mums have to. This is why men have affairs because they go to women who look good,' she said.
She even goes as far as to vacuums and scrubs the floors in en evening gown with full make-up on.

Is this for real?!

StealthPolarBear Wed 13-Jan-16 16:59:22

But isn't this just putting the blame on women for men's failings (nam)?
Why is it up to the partner to change her man? I agree it's up to the mother - but his father too. Plus of course a personal responsibility

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