Housework: an expected responsibility of many wives in the home yet an unprofitable enterprise within society. With the cost of living continually rising in America, it is not uncommon for a majority of women to work full-time outside of the home. Yet studies reveal that women are still performing a majority of the housework despite men’s increased participation which, in fact, decreases after marriage and even more after kids. When men do clean house, rather than considering it a shared responsibility, most of us still see it as merely “helping”.
A blog post by Skeptikai, “Are men happier When They Share the Housework?”, comes to the conclusion that it’s not the actual housework that makes men happy, but the positive effects it has on a relationship, as it leads to more sex and less nagging.
So if this is truly the case, why does the duty of housework still fall primarily on women?
The supposed “feminine nature” of housework reifies the sexual division of labor and has become a permanent, undervalued feature of the social structure. I support this statement with two reasons; its lack of recognition as contributing to economic progress and the invisibility of its performance.
Women doing housework may not be included into the labor market, but contribute by supporting a large and demanding, consumer-driven market of cleaning products. Advertisements have a number of ways to reach the domestic woman with products that will, supposedly, make her clean quicker, faster and easier, thus making her job almost seem pleasurable and non-demanding. Yet there’s a chance these products are creating even more work, finding more things to need cleaning and creating higher standards.
My second point brings up the invisibility of the work. Most of us see the home as a place of relaxation and privacy rather than a place of round-the-clock, exploited labor. Seeing it this way may be somewhat of a reach in contemporary America, but housework has, in fact, remained under-valued and unacknowledged for the primary reason that its performed in a private space.
Overall, not all women see housework as a chore and not all men are resistant to do it. Many women of the younger generation agree on the expectation that their partner participates in not only the cleaning, but the cooking, the grocery shopping and just about anything that was excluded to the women’s role during our Mother’s and Grandmother’s generation. On the other side of it, men agree on the expectation that women participate financially. Both domestic and market labor have definitely come much closer to equality in recent times, but there is more progress yet to be made.
Check out the debate over women doing housework after marriage on this FoxNews clip:
What do you think? Are men putting in their equal share of housework with mowing and other so-called “man” chores?