Equally Shared Parenting - Half the Work ... All the Fun

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Here's where we keep you updated on news about parenting as it relates to division of responsibilities, career versus home decisions, work/life balance, and legislative and grass-roots movements toward equality or better choices for families. We'll also throw in our opinions of life as equal parents in a nonequal world, regardless of what's in the news.

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Equality Blog

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stymied Equality

Babble magazine's Strollerderby blog tackles the question of why - after all these years of feminist progress - women still do so much more housework than their husbands (even though the gap is closing). Blogger Cole Gamble offers these reasons (and a few other minor ones):

1. Old-fashioned sexism: Some men still think that housework isn't manly and therefore is beneath them (unless it involves danger, or perhaps very heavy lifting).
2. Men don't see the dirt that women see: He argues that a man doesn't avoid housework so much as not notice it needs doing until things get pretty messy. Several comments on the blog point to how this can also be reversed - sloppy women, neat men - and I fervently believe that any such predilection for men to be blind to dirt is cultural rather than genetic. Nonetheless, take almost any two people on the planet and you'll have two different thresholds for noticing and acting on household tasks. This is why it is so important for a couple to talk and come to agreement on joint standards!
3. Women don't like how men do it: Women, he says, have specific ways they want housework done and they would rather do it themselves than accept that it would be okay for their partners to do it differently. Ah yes - when will we realize that equality will only be possible when women let go of having things their way? Gamble mentions his wife's mysterious method of folding clothes, saying "there is some kind of perfect geometry to underwear folding I apparently can't get my head around." And who wants to? Would it be terrible if the underwear were wrinkled? The horror! In ESP, neither partner gets to dictate how a chore is done. Again, those joint standards....

Gamble is a man who is perfectly capable of handling his half of the housework; he's not one of those sexist guys in point #1. But he's not allowed to reach the 50% mark because his wife still owns the management title in his house. He's probably not going to beg to do more housework when he encounters these barriers each time he tries. But he does recognize what's going on - a great first step. Now, it is up to him to challenge those barriers if he wants to claim all the benefits of being in an ESP relationship. And if his wife is ready to reap those same benefits along with him, she'll have a big role in making it happen.


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