He believes in equality, he roots for equal pay and he detests patriarchy. And yet somehow his belief in equal rights fails to motivate him enough to vacuum the carpet on a regular basis. The modern feminist man is supporting and rooting for the empowerment of women, but then why won’t he help clean the house?
What’s keeping him from getting the dinner ready every night? When it comes to household chores, the division of labour is still gendered, with women shouldering most responsibilities. Which means that while she has a partner who supports her decision to work, she still is left waging a lonely war on most of the unpaid chores, when she gets home.
- Despite warming up to the idea of equality, men are not contributing equally towards performing household chores.
- Are men simply reluctant to undertake unpaid responsibilities?
- Do women fail to trust men with household chores, which deters them from holding on to the job?
- Achieving equality on the work front is incomplete if women still have to struggle for equal distribution of the workload at home.
- In India, women spend 352 minutes per day on domestic work, as compared to 52 minutes spent by men.
According to a recent survey by Gallup, heterosexual couples between ages 18 to 34 were no more likely than older couples to divide most household chores equitably. In the US, the survey finds, household chores among modern couples still remain divided on the lines of gender, with 58 percent women responsible for doing laundry, while 51 percent have to undertake chores like cleaning the house and preparing meals. Men, on the other hand, take lead in chores which are considered, well, “manly”. 69 percent are responsible for keeping the car in good condition and 59 percent take to doing yardwork. In India, women spend 352 minutes per day on domestic work, as compared to 52 minutes spent by men, says Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development data.
So who is at fault if men, despite having a more modern outlook towards equality today, are not participating in household chores on an equal footing? Are men lazy? Are they reluctant to do unpaid labour? Or it is women, who find it difficult to trust men with simple tasks such as folding the laundry or cleaning the house? Or is it both, along with an added dash of stereotyping which lingers deep within our heads?
The bitter truth we need to accept is that unpaid work is unappreciated and thus undesired. Since men have been conditioned to be breadwinners for generations, they equate work with monetary gains or any form of returns on some level. Will you be paid for cooking dinner? Not unless you are a hired help. Also, believing in equality and putting your belief into practice in daily life are two separate things.
It requires a lot of patience to let your spouse navigate through this uncharted territory, and many women are simply prone to giving up, or “taking over”.
However, this doesn’t mean women aren’t responsible on some level, if men aren’t participating in household duties even in 2020. How many women are actually willing to trust the kitchen duties to their husbands on a daily basis for instance? Women have internalised the gendered division of household work just like men. Which means a lot of us think we can do a better job than our partners when it comes to household chores. It requires a lot of patience to let your spouse navigate through this uncharted territory, and many women are simply prone to giving up, or “taking over”. How are men supposed to become better cooks, if we constantly keep highjacking their efforts?
Unless women are free from the burden of unpaid labour, they will never be truly free to pursue careers to their full potential or gain equality in their personal relationships. The effort needs to come from both ends. Men need to realise that household work is in someway not unpaid. By cooking meals yourself, you are saving the money that you may fork out to a hired help. Besides, women need to trust men more, and not question their process of getting a household chore done. It takes two to build a home and it should take two to sustain it.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.