Math for Men
Lots of women have written stories in the aftermath (wow - a pun already) of Lisa Belkin's NY Times ESP story, but the male perspective has been lagging behind. So it was nice when Lisa herself sent Amy a link to this story on Wondertime recently, written by Rand Richards Cooper, a father who challenges men to a little equal sharing math.
He is a bit horrified by the statistics from the NY Times article about how much more housework and childcare are done by women than men, even when a woman works and her husband doesn't. "Dude, where's your pride?" he asks.
He starts to add up the numbers and concludes that women can claim they are more than a full person compared to their husbands. He remarks of a woman friend with two kids and a higher salaried job than her husband, "Basically, she does two-thirds of the family's earning - plus two-thirds of the housework and two-thirds of the childrearing. When she told me that she feels chronically harried, inadequate, and guilty, I pointed out that she's doing two-thirds of everything - that her family's setup requires her, in effect, to be twice the person her husband is."
Amazingly (well, maybe not so surprising after all) is that her response is to praise her husband for "helping out a lot." Cooper accurately argues that men's home contributions are judged not in comparison to their partners', but in comparison to their own fathers'. So far, spot on.
Then, he describes how his own wife has just decided to scale back to half time work because she is overly stressed trying to be more than a full person. Despite Cooper's desire to be a helpful and involved dad, his wife still does more. He applauds her decision to cut back her work hours to save her sanity.
This IS one solution. But what if she didn't want to do that, and would rather the other domains of their lives together could be more equal instead? Why did her very important need to achieve balance in her own life not include balancing it more equally with her husband? Why has this author abandoned finding out how to do his half of the housework and childraising and maybe even scale back a little bit at work so she didn't have to scale back all the way to 20 hours a week?
Cooper closes the article with a fun and interesting math quiz for men. He wants us to own up to what share of the housework and childcare we really do each week, and challenges us to try to become as 'full a person' as our wives. If ESP is what he'd like too, I'd to challenge Cooper to take his own advice.