Men Good at Dodging Housework

Men Good at Dodging HouseworkMen Good at Dodging Housework

Could it be that talking about who does the chores is, well, a chore?

Housework is boring, so it makes sense that arguing about it – or trying to battle the gender inequality around it – would also be pretty mind-numbing.

After spending a day picking up socks, no one really wants to talk about who picked up the socks.

But caring about equality across the board shouldn’t be a zero sum game, and women are not going to be able to make progress on more urgent and public and political issues “if we’re too damn tired from doing so much work at home,” writes Jessica Valenti in the Guardian.

So it will not surprise any woman to learn that the latest numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that women are still doing a lot more housework than men – over three times as much, in fact. If your eyes are already starting to glaze over, you’re not alone: every year, in every country, the same sort of statistics come out, and every year there are a few articles pointing out the disparity and every year, in every country, nothing changes.

 Average Time

And while men are doing some housework - in Germany men spend an average of 90 minutes a day on domestic work, in Turkey just a measly 21 - it’s not just mopping that needs doing. Statistics say that American women are spending about 6 hours a week on housework – but that’s really 8.5 if you count household management. So it’s not just physical labor – like vacuuming or scrubbing toilets – that’s running us down, it’s the day-to-day mental work. We’re not just shopping, we’re making the grocery lists. We’re not just cleaning, we’re figuring out what’s dirty.

Thinking about doing chores may not seem like a lot of work – but consider what an incredible privilege it is to have your mind free of multitasking. Men who don’t have to think about which chores have to be done and who is going to do them have the luxury of headspace to think more about work, hobbies or anything they want. Women, meanwhile, are trying to figure out if the kids need any more juice boxes that week.

 Chore Disparity

The more we all let men get away with saying that women are somehow naturally better at picking up around the house, the longer the chore disparity will last. Yes, sometimes just washing someone else’s dirty cup feels easier than making a stink about why it’s been sitting on a dresser for two days. But rolling our eyes or quietly seething only ensures another, dirtier cup around the corner.

As boring as housework can be – as a literal chore or as a political issue – we can’t continue to treat it as ancillary to the larger fight for women’s equality. What happens in our homes matters, as does women’s time and how they spend it.

So women, let’s remember that our unpaid labor is work too – and that we need to hold men accountable. Men ... just do the damn dishes.