Wow! A lot of people had some really great things to say about this topic the other day, and frankly, I'm super jet-lagged, so I'm going to let you guys do more of the talking.
I think there are a couple points that came up that are pretty valid that I'll try to discuss over the next couple days:
1) It's okay if work gets distributed along gender lines, so long as both parties are doing roughly equal work.
One of the actually kinda cool things about living alone, is that by necessity, you end up doing both the traditionally "male" and traditionally "female" work. I've cleaned the toilet, and I've also been responsible for unclogging it. I've set up my electronic systems, and decipher strange Swedish diagrams to put my furniture together. I research my own mutual funds, and I do my own taxes. These are all things that my dad was responsible for when I was growing up ... actually I'm not sure he would have ever unclogged a toilet! But he did everything else. And now I know how to do all of that. Do I love doing all that stuff? Not always, but I do value the fact that I can do all those things on my own, just as I value that I do know how to cook, even if I don't really enjoy it.
So it occurs to me that actually the trend towards delaying marriage may be the best thing that has ever happened to our society. Because, frankly, most of my guy friends know how to cook and clean for similar reasons ... there was a long length of time where they lived alone or with other guy roommates before they moved in with their girlfriends.
Anyway, like I said, I do it "all." I mean, I clearly don't do it all, as I let a lot go and pay for other stuff (like meals a lot of the time), but there is no work split on gender lines. Any work in my household is probably done by me. So there's no real question of anyone doing an unequal share of work.
But when you are in a relationship, it's easy to fall into unequal work patterns. It's also easy to perceive unequal work patterns where one doesn't exist, because it's much easier to comprehend the work you're putting in for the household versus someone else.
In my personal experience, with my parents work was split generally along gender lines and I think my mom did end up doing more work than my dad. However, in previous relationship history, work was probably fairly equally split (and not along traditional gender lines), though I think we both often perceived ourselves to be doing more work than the other!
Now, most data still suggests that maybe household work isn't coming out roughly equal in the wash, and that women tend to put in more work in the household than men. Even when those women have a full time job. Do you think that data is valid? Do you see that manifesting in your life? Do you think it manifests in your friends and neighbors?
And if women do put in more time into the household, how much of that is self-imposed? Do we feel the need to have a cleaner house than men do? Do we feel the need to cook more complicated meals when a simple one would suffice? And if we do have higher standards, is it really fair to expect someone else to meet them?
10 months ago