April 12 2013

On Husbands and Household Chores

Lane Scott

I love reading articles about how men should do more housework.  Overly-simplistic calculations of time spent on hearth and home, and ridiculous conclusions like “if men just worked 22 minutes more on childcare per day, we will achieve workplace equality” highlight the idiocy of both modern feminism and our propensity to quantify everything.  Once feminists start breaking down the minutes of the day and demanding that men give exactly the same amount of time to diaper changing or to mopping floors, the stupidity of equality-as-sameness becomes obvious.  Do women really need a heavily-subsidized partisan group to help them divvy up household tasks with their husbands?  Of course, feminists argue, because the patriarchy is responsible for the gender stereotypes that encourage the disparity.

Come on.  Back in 1960, this might have been an interesting argument.  We are now several generations past the mystical housewife era of the 1950s.  My mom worked full time.  Her mother worked full time.  I don’t need the feminists to save me from the curse of domesticity, and I doubt many other modern American women are in desperate need of this service, either.

In a recent article for CNN, Anne York promises that if men just spent 47 minutes more per day on housework, the pay gap problem would disappear:

“Women spend a greater number of hours doing household and caregiving duties, which decreases the number of hours they can work for pay. Even for full-time workers, men worked on average 8.3 hours per day while women worked 7.8 hours per day in 2011.”

Did it ever occur to York that maybe some women actually prefer to invest that .5 hours per day in their homes and communities?  That perhaps the number of hours spent working for pay isn’t the sole measure of happiness?

I don’t get to sit in an office chair quite as long as my husband does every day, but I do manage a home and eight acres, sheep, cattle, chickens, and a huge year-round garden in addition to my part-time work.  No one pays me to do these things, I suppose.  But the value of my “unpaid labor” is evident to friends and family whenever they feast on my pasture-raised beef and delicious fruits and vegetables.  I could work longer hours and just buy these things at the store, I suppose, but what fun would that be? 

In certain areas, it is preferable to live your life rather than to buy it.  I imagine time invested in loved ones and communities is a source of pride for many women.  We are not powerless victims.  Our lives reflect our priorities.  Despite endless feminist whining, women remain unconvinced that the only work worth doing is paid work.

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