Guys: Don’t Leave All the Housework to Women

Three new studies show we all have some work to do

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

I saw a meme the other day to the effect of …

Crash at a girl’s house: “Here are fresh sheets, choose from three different toothpastes in the bathroom, help yourself to banana bread in the kitchen.

Crash at a guy’s house: “You can use that sweatshirt as a bed, the faucets don’t work, my roommate has night terrors.”

At face value, pretty funny. But dig a little deeper and the meme seems to imply that a man’s inability to clean or contribute to a household is somehow adorable and should get a pass. In light of recent studies by sociologists across the States, this sort of attitude propagates unfair social standards, which trap women in a cycle of more and more housework.

One study found that mothers married to men did more work around the house than single mothers (while sleeping less and enjoying less leisure time). Another found that women spend the same amount of time on chores whether they live in the city or the suburbs, which debunks the idea that men have too much to do outside (lawn, garage, etc.) to help inside. And the final study examined precisely why women do more housework, attributing it to social expectation. Participants were shown a messy room and told that it belonged to either a man or a woman. The women were judged more harshly.

I’ve lived with some real humdingers over the years. Guys who’ve never cleaned out the bathroom sink after shaving. Guys who’ve thrown out banana peels in recycling bins. “Slob pride” is a strange, frustrating side of masculinity, but it can turn downright ludicrous when the same men leaving out pizza boxes for three weeks have the audacity to question the tidiness of a woman’s home. We’ve made progress dealing with gender inequality in the public arena, but private dynamics have some catching up to do. Our advice? Don’t genderize tasks. Inside, outside, in the attic or the basement … all hands on deck will keep everybody happy. Or at least equally miserable.

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