These Things I Assume To Be True
An old blog post, resurrected and edited slightly for today.
- Household work is not the sole responsibility of either the male or female partner in a relationship. Any gender linkage to job roles should be cosmetic or chance, not causal.
- More generally, it’s not the sole responsibility of either partner in a relationship. Sorry for the assumed bias in the previous statement, same-sex couples.
- If someone is a stay-at home person, household work (including child care, if relevant) will often be a major part of your time contribution to your relationship’s underlying logistics. Because… you’re home… and due to slack time you have a lower opportunity cost to get some household things done that your partner does not.
- It is commonly the case that people assume the previous statement, but not the ones immediately prior. This is an injustice. It is also depressingly commonly the case that the previous statement gets a whole heapin’ helpin’ more weight than it ought to have.
- There exist gender-linked preferences to certain types of housework.
- The jury is still out on the correlation vs. causation aspect of the previous statement, however, it is staggeringly likely in my opinion that the relationship is one of nurture, not nature, with the obvious exception of breastfeeding.
- In other words, two X chromosomes don’t automatically prejudice you to dislike taking out the garbage or mowing the lawn. An X and a Y chromosome don’t automatically prejudice you to being bad at doing laundry or the dishes. However, the fact that the male adult saw the previous generation’s male adult mow the lawn while the female adult did the dishes may factor into the current generational male getting some level of satisfaction out of mowing the lawn that he doesn’t get out of doing the dishes. This is because people (self included) are generally creatures of habit, or they’re stupid, and in either case they’re riddled with biases and self-examination is an ongoing job, no matter how hard you work at it… and really, who’s going to be thinking about self-examination when it’s time to mow the lawn?
- Maybe your wife enjoyed working in the yard with her Dad, too. So if she wants to do the lawn and leave you with the bathroom as a tradeoff half the time, deal.
- If you avoid some household chore out of some belief that you are bad at it or don’t like it, pretend for a few minutes that you’re not a 5 year old and try it with an open mind. Eat your vegetables, you might like them. If you still don’t like it, tough.
- Men ought to change diapers, when they’re full of crap.
- Men ought to clean a toilet, if it hasn’t been cleaned recently.
- Men ought to vacuum the house roughly half the time, all other things equal.
- Oh, and women, by the way, ought to take out the garbage, if it’s full. Really. You get a pass if it’s the only chore your dumb husband will do, of course.
- Women ought to mow the lawn, if it needs to be cut. Ditto previous qualifier.
- Unless, of course, you’ve decided to divvy up those chores ahead of time. Even then, you should be careful the distribution is fair, given your other responsibilities.
- It’s the responsibility of both members of the partnership to inquire honestly as to the other person’s capabilities on any given day (sometimes, this means you do more than the other person, guys. Maybe more than sometimes.)
- Generally, if you’re both working… dividing up the household logistics, from who pays the bills, arranges for service for the cars, does the routine chores, deals with the children’s education and social demands, and so on, is a joint duty. You’re going to have to work hard at this, since both people probably don’t see all of these duties going on unless you really pay attention to what the other person is doing.
- Corporations need to stop making advertisements that suggest that men, as a class, are incapable of any of the above, or that women, as a class, have some magical inborn competency, or vice-versa. You’re part of the problem. You’re also deeply, gravely insulting. My wife can use a monkey wrench and isn’t afraid of pool cleaners (she’s spent a lot of time in a chem lab, for crissake, she’s got better material handling skills than I do). I can mop a freaking floor. I don’t even use a mop, I do it the old fashioned way, hands and knees and scrub until it’s actually really clean. All you commercial women with perfect teeth and faux dirty floors that you turn sparkly with one sweep of a mop, I’d kick your ass in a “clean the floor” competition. Twice on Sunday.
- Yes, I realize you need to advertise to your market to get the biggest return on your dollar. I also realize that in a practical sense, many of these gender-linked chores mean that your target market for your cleaning supplies is going to also be gender-linked, suggesting you should market the way you do. Stop anyway. You can do it.
- Seriously, cut it out. Feel free to trumpet your own horn while you do it.
- There are men who are like me. My wife will attest that I do at least a halfway decent job of helping out around the house; while we currently live in a state that we both joke as being little better than squalor, we’re both willing to admit it’s a time-limited problem, not a gender-based one.
- I delude myself into thinking that my wife spends more time on the school-related functions because she’s currently home and thus knows the kids’ teachers much better than I do. The truth probably is more along the lines that she does it (at least partially) because she’s facing a lot of societal pressure to be a perfect mother in addition to the previous factor. Acknowledging that this is at least possibly the case is something that we all need to do. In any event, “because your partner is better at it” is just a consideration, not the sole measure of who should do what.
- I freely admit that I have a difficulty with this whole gender-bias thing, and I’ll claim that I actually actively try to deal with it. My father was a stay-at-home dad for periods of time that exceeded the periods when my mother was a stay-at-home mother. Dad cooked, Mom baked. Dad cleaned the house. Dad did watch sports on Sundays, but both parents were disciplinarians when they needed to be. I don’t come from the same world from which most of my peers do. I don’t even recognize some of the pressures that people talk about having to deal with in their lives.
- Hell, if I was a Stay-at-Home Dad and somebody started giving me a ribbing because my wife brought home the bacon, I’d probably look at them like they grew a second head. I certainly wouldn’t be feeling any sort of shame, in the slightest (except maybe a little sympathetic shame for the moron with two heads). It sometimes requires me to stop and think about people who do have to deal with this sort of situation simply because it does bother them. My family and upbringing isn’t like theirs, I have no right to wave my hands and say, “Well, gee, just get over it.” Yes, they probably should get over it, just like everybody should get over external validation as a mechanism by which they judge their worth. That’s a human problem, though, and I’m not thinking it’s going away anytime soon.
- I have friends who have reversed “traditional” roles, I ought to ask them how they feel about these situations, as they certainly have occurred.
- Thus, there’s undoubtedly plenty of occasions when my wife does do stuff because of socially-imposed gender roles, or I wind up doing them without noticing it, and since I’m preconditioned not to see those influences, I might miss ‘em. Yes, we all need to be alert to this sort of thing.
And we probably ought to be careful to preface commentary about gender roles with a nice, solid statement about the way we think things ought to be, before we start talking about how people might cope with things the way they are. Leastwise, unless we want to come across like some boneheaded advertiser, assuming that the context that is is also the context that should be.