Is there a chore war?
We live in changing times. Today 33% of UK working women with families, are the main breadwinners. In the US 40% of mothers are the principal earners. Women make up 50% of the workforce. Yet women are still doing as much as 80% of all household chores.
But is the rise of the working woman, the plight of the modern man? Has the division of workforce labour meant enriched lives for all? It would appear that there are still some anomalies to be resolved on the domestic front.
If parody blog and Twitter account @manwhohasitall – which has gone viral mocking gendered stereotypes of working mums trying to ‘have it all’ – is to be considered typical, men could be struggling too.
Just to highlight a couple of gems:
“Is it REALLY possible for men to juggle kids, housework, a double chin, career, laundry problems and ‘me time’?”
“Does your wife help out with the housework? You are VERY LUCKY. Blessed & charmed. I’m lucky, my wife once closed the fridge door.”
“At last!” Some of you may be thinking (if you are like me) – “he knows what it feels like!”
But joking aside, with both men and women participating in the workplace, the now typical domestic situation of two-career couples, who takes care of the home, is an area presenting much discussion.
Women are making strides in the workplace but what is going on domestically?
Domestic Tasks and Domestic Bliss
A European Social Survey which compares the lifestyles of people across Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Britain found that men who were more highly engaged domestically reported less work-life conflict and were scored slightly higher for wellbeing overall.
So it’s simple – share and be happy. Or is it?
A recent study, quoted in the Mail Online, measured the marital bliss of 220 newly married couples in the US. It found that those “who share are happier” and that “dividing domestic tasks is more crucial for the marital satisfaction of women” than men.
In another study, cited in The Telegraph, sociologists found that husbands who stick to stereotypical `male’ household jobs such as gardening and maintaining the car, “have more sex” whereas those men who took on stereotypical `female` tasks such as cooking, cleaning and shopping had “less regular sex“.
And yet another Norwegian study, found that divorce rates were about 50 percent higher among couples who divide the housework, than in those where the woman does the lion’s share of the chores.
Domestic chores and domestic strife
But before you start thinking that a gender split of household chores will put your relationship on the rocks, the researchers Thomas Hansen and Britt Slagsvold found that both men and women report the highest satisfaction with the division of housework when the housework is divided equally. The lowest recorded was when they themselves do most of the work.
The study suggests that this is related to the values of the couples. Those who favoured gender domestic role division, tended to have more traditional attitudes to marriage, thus reducing the risk of divorce.
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Professor Prof Jacqueline Scott, professor of empirical sociology at Cambridge University, believes that an increasing number of women are becoming more vocal in insisting on an equal split of household chores which can lead to conflict if not handled correctly.
Traditional Gender Roles at home
So, while women are merrily busting stereotypes in the workplace, could it be that some women are still actually happier keeping to more traditional gender roles in the home? And do some secretly, at a deep subliminal level, find men more attractive when they keep more `manly’ pursuits?
Do they want to avoid a chore war?
But if we are to survive this two-wage-household world, then we need to at least try to make the answer `no’ but to make it less about a chore war and more about chore division.
Even if it means going against stereotypical conditioning. Shared financial responsibility must mean shared chores.
Otherwise, like the `man who has it all’, we will – both men and women – feel like we are `doing it all’.
The chore war needs to be eliminated.
So let us know – how do you deal with domestic chores at home?