Monday, June 20, 2011

Why does mother still equal full-time housekeeper?

Ha ha, not surprising there's 190 online comments (and counting) in response to Kasey Edwards' article in the Age today: Is sharing the chores such a daft idea?

As she says: Motherhood is what I signed up for. What I — and many mothers I know — didn't sign up for was the job of full-time housekeeper and cook as well.

Another recent article on the front page of the Sunday Age said that at the birth of the first child, a woman's housework lifts from about six hours a week to about 15 hours — while a man's does not change at all.

Worse, you know these roles have really solidified when that division of labour doesn't shift even after she has returned to work.

As that story goes on to say: Research shows the norm in two-parent Australian families is that women do 70 per cent of the housework. Even as women's workforce participation has steadily increased since the 1970s, and the average Australian family features a full-time working father and a part-time working mother, women carry about three quarters of the domestic burden.

In her article, Edwards cites Susan Maushart's revelation in The Mask of Motherhood that after the birth of her first child, a woman's entire domestic workload (including childcare) increases by 91 per cent to an average of 55 hours and 48 minutes per week.

By contrast, her partner's workload increases, on average, zero per cent.

Extraordinary, isn't it?

According to stats, the only time the average Australian father actually lifts his housework rate is when his relationship ends! How tragic is that?!

Quite rightly, this issue just ain't going away.

If your man defies this picture of the 'average dad', consider entering him into the Most Mentally Sexy Dad competition, and we can celebrate those men who are showing the way forward! Seems they're still in the minority, sadly.

18 comments:

The Beetle Shack said...

orright, im off to enter my husband stat. What ever happened to progression? c'mon every other man- life your game ;)

xo

Jo said...

Think I'm going to have to enter my man in that competition - once I can wrestle the broom from his hands so he can prepare the school lunches, set the breadmaker and think of the best ever news for the pre-primary letter of the day,(R was a jar of rainwater...yep, sickening and FABULOUS!)I am continually shocked at what some of the school mama's share about their partners lack of domestic input. Takes two to Tango, and two to clean up the whirlwind of a house stormed by kids.

Damon Young said...

Really, the feminisation of men is just out of control. When will these do-gooders realise that there are genetic reasons for women's aptitude for housework?

Rachel Power said...

If what you're saying is that we just do it better, I'm with you on that one, Damon. But eveyone's capable of learning some new skills now, aren't they? ;)

Damon Young said...

Men haven't time for new skills. They're busy being providers. (Which is what they're programmed to do.)

It's not like we're free, or something. When will you feminists learn?

Salsa said...

I think you can usually get a good idea about what your partner will be like on the housework/parenting front beforehand. I'm not perfect, and neither is my husband, but we both pitch in and try not to nag/whinge/bitch about it. We've fallen into this with the baby too, not always seamlessly (far from it) but we still do a pretty good split. Just last night, after I'd made dinner, he popped up without a word and went and did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. Sounds like this isn't happening in many other homes, which is nuts. I'm thinking of a good friend with two kids and a partner who hasn't bothered to change a nappy or do any housework -- but he didn't help out before the kids, so where's the surprise?

Frances said...

Standards can be the problem. Some people don't mind -or even enjoy -a bit of a mess, and some want Vogue Living. Maybe this is information to find out before commitment and procreation.
A friend was married to a housekeeping nazi with impossibly high standards. E.g., he ranted at his daughter for leaving the phone cord twisted..."I had no idea that I could make so much out of so little," he laughed about it later. He almost followed people around with dustpan and brush - (confounding Damon's theory).
It was not at all mentally sexy, Rachel, it was life stifling. And that is why the marriage is in the past.

Damon Young said...

Impossible, Frances. This goes against everything we know about evolution. He must've been a genetic mutation.

meli said...

My guy is doing a good job on housework since the baby has arrived and a reasonable job on cooking (though he's been so impatient the last couple of nights that when he ascertains as i pick him up from work that i haven't started dinner yet, he insists that we eat out). but (after a fabulous beginning) he's lapsing a bit on baby duties... we need to have a talk at some point so that it's not always me asking him to do things for the little one.

i'm happy to cook if he watches the baby, but i'm not too keen on using up time for this earlier in the day...

Frances said...

Not true, Damon.
Here we witness the mighty struggle of evolution to go onwards and upwards, and in the process occasionally overdoing it, like giving someone 12 toes.
Don't be downhearted. I'm sure that the chaps will get there in the end.
Signed: The crowing hen.

Damon Young said...

At a certain point satire becomes unnecessary.

Rachel Power said...

Glad to hear that there are dads out there who take it for granted that kids require all hands to be on deck. I have to say, considering how dramatically the domestic workload explodes post-babies, I find it almost impossible to fathom how any father could stay at zero per cent increase. Can it be that the average bloke is taking on more paid work and therefore thinks he is exempt from taking on extra around the house?

Damon Young said...

If I can take off my Dr Satire hat for a moment...

For many men, housework is like paid work for middle-class women a couple of generations ago: not part of their identity. Sure, you can do it in an emergency, but it's not something that's expected or respected (by peers).

Frances said...

Ouch. That hurt!

Damon Young said...

It wasn't supposed to, Frances!

I was pointing out that we'd both reached the point where reductionist ridiculousness was achieved, and no longer needed recognising.

Caelan Simpson said...

Hi all...

A full-time housekeeper usually does not have any involvement with children in the household, but rather is responsible only for keeping the house clean and orderly. Thanks a lot for sharing with us...

Housekeeper LA

MartinUttero said...

I think that is a good idea, a mother is like a full-time house keeper and even more because it is a hard work and not a paid job, when I read an article on online pharmacy web-site and started a treatment, my wife got pregnant and I realized later how difficult is the job of a mother

AmeliaDraws said...

Thank you everyone for making me feel mighty satisfied with my lot. Maybe its because i had a dad with 50% custody and my partners farming father looked after the kids when ma worked.... Perhaps we had different role models? but all around me i see my friends becoming fathers and taking equal ownership of the house. I had three dads in my mum's group because in this country town work seasonal: and thus so a roles....

Having said that I remember disscussing gender roles in the media in grade six. (I had a progressive teacher)and I honestly thought that 18 years later the ads on telly may have shifted from the image of white woman doing housework.... Its as if the whole of society conspires to the ridiculous stereotype. .. so i have my fingers crossed for change in the next 18 years and two little boys to raise who will be a part of it

And Damon you are a cheeky man.