Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al (livredor) wrote,
Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al
livredor

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More about sharing domestic tasks

Go back and look at the poll I posted a few days ago. I mean, totally, it's an LJ survey, it means nothing at all. But look at just how many women do the majority of the housework, and there's always a good reason for it; they just happen to be the one more bothered by dirt, or they're better at housework than their partner, or their partner works long hours so they have more time... In each individual case, it's of course nothing to do with gender, but I think there's something going on beyond just random chance here.

I know full well my friends list is not a representative sample! But I think it's a pretty good bet that we are more enlightened and egalitarian than a truly representative cross-section of society. The fact that nobody checked the box for women doing more housework because it's women's work is definitely heartening (and in line with what I expected when I made the poll). As are the examples of people who split things 50:50 or where the male of the household does the majority. (It's unhelpful that I don't appear to know enough partnered men to be able to make a useful comparison of men self-reporting!)

I don't think it's deplorable for a specific woman to be doing the majority of the housework. If the male partner earns more, works longer hours and is less interested in housework than the female, that doesn't mean that he personally is sexist, and it is entirely sensible for the woman to do most of the housework in this kind of situation. But if such a high proportion of couples just happen to fall into this pattern (and remember, most of my friends are educated, professional, liberated women), one needs to consider whether sexism is an indirect cause. I have a feeling this imbalance would have been bigger a few years ago, but I have a feeling it would also be bigger if I repeated the poll in a few years' time when a higher proportion of my peers are parents.

The numbers aren't good enough to conclude anything very much. But they do point in the same direction as what I've picked up anecdotally: everybody in my social circle and even most people in wider society believe in theory that gender is irrelevant to who does the housework. But in practice it ends up being the woman far more often than would happen in a genuinely equal society. I'm going to copy over the comment that I made on the (friends locked) post that started me off posting this poll:
There are some men who do exactly 50% of the housework, carefully measured out. Which really means 50% of the easily measurable work, not the pre-work that you need to do to be able to do the chores which have specific labels. That's getting more and more common, and in the kind of circles we move in it may even be the norm. There are very, very few men and the great majority of women who do at best, 50% of the explicit housework plus all the other stuff that doesn't get recorded, or at worst, absolutely all the housework. Very, very few is not none. But it's one of those perception things, I think.

If you prefer qualitative stuff, there are some interesting stories in the comments to my poll. Also, have a look at the discussions on the_alchemist and verlaine's journals here and here. They're not specifically about gender, but I think they're a good background to why theoretical gender equality doesn't always play out in practice.

I don't have any suggestions for what can be done about this, mind you.
Tags: followup, gender
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