THE HOUSEWORK

men and women housework | pink marigolds

Cherry Healey posed a really interesting question on Instagram the other day.

She asked her followers whether the housework was split evenly between themselves and their other halves. Quite unbelievably, considering it is 2017 and we should be waaaay past conversations such as these, it’s a question that, I think, is definitely still worth asking.

As a twenty-something female who is not only a feminist herself, but who lives with a thirty-something man who calls himself a feminist, too, it is easy to assume we probably strike the perfect balance simply because our morals and values are in the correct place. However, I can’t help but feel that we might be missing instances of Everyday Sexism from right under our noses.

I’ll tell you why.

Although we do a deep clean together on a Sunday (we both have full-time jobs), outside of this, there’s a subtle difference in the number of chores we each take care of. I, for instance, manage to do a couple of loads of washing each week and find time to empty the dishwasher of an evening. Whenever the surfaces need a wipe, I’ll give them one. I make sure there is always loo paper readily available and that there’s something healthy in the fridge for dinner. Ryan, on the other hand, will happily have a fridge full of pizza and beer and leave the dirty work until the end of the week, letting the wash basket spiral out of control and the cupboards to grow empty.

This might come down to different living habits, but after talking to friends, family and colleagues, it seems to be quite a common dynamic between men and women, which makes me think it could be something more than simply personal preference…

What’s more is that the chores that we each instinctively take care of are gendered, too. While I tackle anything that will allow me to do so without feeling nauseous, he takes care of the bins, replaces light bulbs, pulls hair out of the plug-hole (which, for two very hairy people, is no easy feat) and assembles IKEA furniture in less than a minute.

What’s the problem, then? You ask. You do that, he does that. You should be satisfied enough, non?

Well, not quite. It grinds my gears when brands play on gendered tasks, so why am I adhering to these stereotypes on an almost daily basis? Wilko tin foil, for example, says, ‘It’s hot, mum’ on the packet. Why doesn’t dad get a mention? Probably working hard at the office while mum is at home wearing an apron; after all, it is 1945. And bath products that label pepper and ocean scents with, ‘for men’ because, of course, women only enjoy floral whiffs. In my eyes, participating in gendered work is just as bad as doing an uneven share of the work.

Am I being a bad feminist, then, by not questioning the amount he does because he takes care of all the things I don’t want to? Is it just a personality thing that has led us to doing different amounts and bits and bobs around the house? Or is it a gender issue that is ignored by many a feminist because we’re just glad we don’t have to do the grim stuff?

I don’t know the answers yet, but I definitely think it’s food for thought.

So, what about you? Does your other half do their fair share of the housework or are you up to your elbows in grease and grime as much as they are? Are you a woman dating a woman? I’d love to know how that dynamic works, too. Let me know what you think.

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