At Issue: Housework

clothes-line-615962_640A while back, Stephen Marche wrote an op-ed piece about housework for the New York Times.  He notes that while men have picked up a larger share of childcare (cool dads!) and of cooking (manly, manly bbq!), they still are not pulling their weight with housework.

At least one thing is becoming clear: The only possible solution to the housework discrepancy is for everyone to do a lot less of it. …  The solution to the gender divide in housework generally is just that simple: don’t bother. Leave the stairs untidy. Don’t fix the garden gate. Fail to repaint the peeling ceiling. Never make the bed.

A clean house is the sign of a wasted life, truly. Hope is messy: Eventually we’ll all be living in perfect egalitarian squalor.

Lower the standards, he says, and the problem can go away.  Marche  is at work on a book about the end of the gender wars, and this, we are given to understand, constitutes part of that body of work.  It’s a great read, but so is the angry response from Jessica Gross.

She is quick to point out that lowering standards to let slacker men off the hook is no solution at all:

once you have kids, you can’t let them live in filth. Toddlers will eat dust bunnies, and parents will trip on the miles of plastic crap lying around. We’re not talking Martha Stewart perfection; we’re talking a baseline of cleanliness.

What’s more, she says, she has written a lot about the debate with which he engages, and he fails to credit her ideas:

In a way, this is just a classic example of chauvinism: belittling and ignoring female contributions, whether they are intellectual or domestic.

Will this quarrel over housework ever go away?

This week, 4Mothers will discuss gender and housework and how things look to us.  We love it when you join in, whether to offer your own perspective or to simply say that you enjoyed a read.  Don’t be shy; drop us a line.

Our guest this week will be Kelly Quinn, who has written for us before, and whose idea this was in the first place.  Thanks, Kelly!

3 thoughts on “At Issue: Housework

  1. Ugh! Thank you for this! I do all the housework. My husband has other talents that he provides. He can fix anything. He handles the finances. He works. I stay home. But, I manage the kids and do the housework. I am working toward training my children to put away their own laundry, plates in the sink, shoes in the closet…to make my job a little easier. But, when I go back to work, I want it to be more a team effort…but it is so embedded in me to take control of housework/kids and him finances that I don’t think we can change mindsets. I think I am going to have to delegate housework/time with kids and tread gently as I do.

    • A lot is embedded, isn’t it? I suppose we have to be the change we want to see in the world. I don’t particularly want to see more guys sweeping, just fewer of them lifting their feet while someone else does it, you know?

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