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February 10, 2006

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Comments

Russell Arben Fox

Yes! Belle lays it down. I appreciate especially that you end with nokon13, who draws upon his experience with having lived with "numerous women to whom I'm not related, both in a relationship and housemate setting" (just to clear up that it's not like he's some sort of dog, you know). He's always tried to "meet the girls in the middle," and yet darn if they don't always seem to think there's more to be done around the house. What shall we do? Why, shall I consider that my living habits might be reflective of deeply ingrained social expectations that provide benefits which are obvious (indeed, his own words implicitly acknowledge them)? No! I will conclude that women are just plain different, that they seem to want to "do more around the house" whilst I, the male, sit befuddled (in a clean room). Ah, the female sex! You are truly a Mystery.

belle waring

it is funny that i feel more irritated by faux-feminst grad-student guys who think that the second X=love the swiffer-chromasome than straight-up nutbag sexists like just karl. but it's the tedious "i really tried to meet you crazy chicks halfway, and i put my dirty socks in the laundry basket [from which they are teleported to the washing machine, obvs] and everything, but you're just never satisfied! ergo, the ladeez are nuts. not my fault! but seriously, is MY just cursed with bad commenters or wtf is going on? i hasten to add (if it weren't clear from the post) that matt himself is a stand-up feminist mensch.

E.A.P

Can I just say that your posts on these subjects make me unbelievably happy? Your posts on the NYT article a few months back claiming "you shouldn't let your husband in the delivery room because he might be grossed out by your bajingo and be unable to sex you ever again?" Brilliant.

I, too, feel that knot in my stomach and that need to lash out at ignorant and arrogant morons, but I lack your pith. Thanks for busting their chops and letting us read it.

Steve

My wife is in Med School, and when she finishes, I'm going to stay home. I don't know how I'll take it, being oppressed, day after day, trading my self-respect and sexual autonomy for the security of someone else paying all my bills, but...but... ...I' I think I'll be ok...

Incidently, until that happens, my wife never- NEVER- takes the garbage out or takes the empty cans back to the garage. I wouldn't go so far as to threaten to hit her with a cricket bat (I'm not a pretentious violent psycho, after all), but it really gets my goat.

Steve

SomeCallMeTim
I mean, it's obviously inconceivable that men in our society could learn that if they just flake out long enough, some woman will clean up their shit, and then they can be all "hey--you wanted to do that!"

I see your point generally, but I don't believe the above at all. I think back to college, or just after college, when all my roommates were men. Our living area was gross. For months and months on end. I can't remember a single woman being willing to use our bathrooms, let alone clean them. I guess it's possible that we wrongly assumed that someone who didn't live with us would clean our bathroom out of a general distaste for the disorder in the world. And that, though it hadn't happened, we kept working off of that same assumption because our misguided faith in women. For months and months on end. Until we had to clean it ourselves, because we couldn't find a professional service that was willing to do it. But it seems improbable.

MDtoMN

Great Post. I do think that a given living circumstance can best be judged considering all the different circumstances, but the fact that so many men seem to implictly agree that they do almost no work and then try to justify it seems to prove the underlying concern - women do a disproportionate amount of housework, and this is unfair.

My one experience in this was unusual but still unjustifiable - 3 guys living together joined by 2 women, 1 of the women did a great deal more cleaning than anyone else, numerous other facters came into play, etc. Basically women get the shaft because of social pressures, and all the post-justifications don't make this okay.

Also, I am tired of people trying to pretend that all the trade offs are good or fair. In the above living situation, I was working 10-15 more hours than any othe housemate and paid more into the communal pot ($150 / month extra - NOT compensated by a better room, my room was objectively worse), with the understanding that I wouldn't do as many of the household chores. Still, I ended up doing more than everyone but the 1 woman. She paid in the normal amount, and she worked the second most hours, and she still ended up doing a ton of work. The other three people were basically lazy and didn't pull their weight. That's what's at issue here - people don't always pull their weight. And, specifically, men tend to expect women to pull more weight and because this broad social expectation exists, most women end up pulling more weight or facing social condemnation.

I'm tired of people being unable to honestly engage in social debate because they spend their entire time justifying their own choices. I shouldn't have allowed so much of the work to be shoveled on the one woman. She left the house after awhile, and she was right to do so. I left within another 3 months because all that work fell on me, and I was right to do so. People shouldn't treat each other that way. Women should demand better, and men should provide better. As the social expectations unfairly burden women, men should go the extra distance to try to be fair and at the very least should acknowledge and try to realize that sexism pervades our lives socially, and that the results of the sexism are unfair and leave us guilty.

Justin

Wow, here's a radical concept--men are generally sloppier/messier than woman and are better able to live with mess, women generally like a cleaner house, so it makes sense that women (unfairly) end up doing more cleaning.

I'm not sure how housework got to be elevated to some leftist cause, but it all sounds a bit petty.

dan

so is the fact that studio apartment is usually dirty and poorly picked up due to the fact that i think women ought to be picking it up?

Doctor Slack

Steve: I guess it's possible that we wrongly assumed that someone who didn't live with us would clean our bathroom out of a general distaste for the disorder in the world.

Actually, I'm often surprised at how many men I meet who genuinely weren't expected to do housework growing up, and actually do expect on some level that if it's really that important, someone else will do it for them. Nor is it inconceivable that to the extent that men are generally sloppier and messier on the whole, it's driven at least in part by the assumption (albeit not necessarily conscious) that domestic work is a petty concern that's beneath them.

Justin: I'm not sure how housework got to be elevated to some leftist cause, but it all sounds a bit petty.

In fairness, it doesn't necessarily have to be a cause on par with the battle against sex trafficking for statements like "I have to assume that my wife would prefer to dust the lamps than read the newspaper" to be incredibly irritating.

jerry

Sadly, I find tour post is evidence free and draws on your own beliefs and anecdotes.

Removing gender, generalizing and summarizing, you are saying that in the well known argument of "nature vs. nurture" you come down 1000% and to the point of violence for nurture, and you are unwilling to listen to any arguments (often from men) that it may be nature.

Your stance does not conform to the evidence.

It is not nature vs. nurture, generally it is agreed that it is nature and nurture.

Dismissing anecdotal evidence that you dislike makes as little sense as only believing your own anecdotal evidence that you do like.

You leave me a little bit sad for us all.

cw

Awesome post, funny & to the point.

I think MD's story (comment above) is instructive because these things are clearer in a housemates situation.

But I think it doesn't give credit to how easy it is in a marriage to slip towards a very traditional arrangement and seriously challenging to dig yourselves back out.

My wife and I have arrived at a 70/30 or even 80/20 split (I would say we are much closer to even, though not even, with kids & this is pretty true in my small circle of male colleagues & friends, which is because I take much more pleasure in this part of our family work and I feel greater legitimacy in sacrificing work time for commitments to my kids, as opposed to, say leaving work at 4:30 to get dinner on the table by 6pm) which is a constant source of tension in our relationship. But it takes some intense personal discipline to move back towards even when every other part of life is so demanding, and I just fucking hate that shit. Energy for discipline is in short supply and excuses for laziness are abundant. I know so many partnerships that are right where we are right now, though not many couples have any intent to shift the balance, which makes it easy for me to get a bit self-indulgent.

The spate of recent stories on this topic has opened my eyes to this a bit more. I thought bitch's recent post on the internal dynamics of this in the negotiations of a relationship was pretty insightful, too.

joe o

I was the one who cited the child care article . The point of the article was that men since 1960 have increased the amount of child care, while not increasing the amount other housework. I took Warner's thesis to be something like "The outside world has changed enormously for women in these past 40 years. But home life?". I thought Warner excluded childcare so that she could point to areas where men are clearly slacking without improvement. It is true that women, even in two career families, do more of the childcare.

observer

I think the "men are just less interested in a neat house" excuse really comes from upbringing. Girls are shamed by their mothers for not keeping their rooms/clothes neat. Mothers may complain about their sons but basically don't have the same expectations, thus they don't transmit guilt about letting the house be messy. Guilt and the knowledge of future enjoyment of a clean living space together fight laziness, encouraging cleaning. Lack of guilt in males leads to a greater ability to tolerate a messy environment. So on average the guilt-ridden females will do the work. There is also the social pressure that when someone visits and sees the messy house, they won't blame the male, they'll think the women is a slattern. More pressure on the woman to avoid this slur and clean more than her share.

(Note that I am blaming mothers here -- this is because the attitudes are transmitted down the generations, not because moms have some sex linked genetic reason for behaving this way.)

Doctor Slack

jerry: Your stance does not conform to the evidence.

The statistical evidence about who does what is abundant enough. If you're claiming a "natural" mechanism that makes it likelier for women to enjoy or be more capable at housework than men, surely it's up to you to produce some evidence for that claim, isn't it? Otherwise, what particular reason is there that culture shouldn't serve as an explanation?

battlepanda

I find the comments of the men on this thread who want to paint men as naturally less tidy too funny. We pretty much didn't have a need to clean house until we, um, lived in households nice enough to bother cleaning, which didn't happen all that long ago.

As anybody whose been in dormrooms, male and female knows, most young people are naturally messy. Neatness of habit and housekeeping skills are things that had to be drilled into us, whether we're male or female. Women get a head start in this process because of societal expectations and imitation of her elders. Men who have the same thing drilled into them, say if they are in the military, become just as fastidious. As for the young men who live in hair-raising levels of sqalor, don't try and tell me they actually like that lifestyle. Maybe after a while they become numb to it.

So why should we keep clean and tidy? I think we all agree on the importance of basic hygiene, but beyond that we all accumulate a lot of crap in modern life, and if the crap is not ordered, life becomes inefficient, if not intolerable.

SomeCallMeTim

Look, there's an easy way to address this matter. If you're a woman and live with a man, don't clean. Just don't. No matter how badly you want to clean. Make him feel the costs of not cleaning. Keep your own space clean and don't worry about the rest. If it bothers him enough, he'll learn.

Jeff

I don't think there is any doubt that there are many, many things that most women (whether they work outside the home or not) do around the house and for the family that men, left to their own devices, would never do. Whether that is socially-encouraged laziness on the part of men, or something more inherent, who knows. I personally am convinced that women have more energy than men, in much the same way that male lions, though stronger than their female counterparts, sit around on their asses for the most part while the females do all the work. I grew up around strong women, and married one as well, and the steady, constant pace of their family-related work is exhausting to even watch. And it contrasts sharply with the men, who, given a task, will work their asses off, often at crappy, physically demanding chores (trimming the trees, cleaning the gutters, moving everything in the attic to somewhere else so you can put everything in the garage up in the attic, etc.), but who will then fall into a near coma in front of the TV.

We are clearly still in transition in terms of accommodating professional wives and mothers and understanding what the demands and compromises are. On the other hand, the fact is that women do have legitimate choices that not long ago they did not have, and the era of men being able to remove themselves from domestic responsibility without anyone looking sideways at them has come to an end (at least in the middle to upper-middle class world). Based purely on my own experiences, I think my wife has a more condemnation-free choice in this work v. family arena-- mostly domestic, mostly professional, or something in between-- than I do. By that I mean, no one we know or are related to had a problem with her working full time when we first had kids, they do not have an issue with the part-time option she is doing currently, and would not have a problem if she went 100% non-professional (or went back to working full-time). Whereas, I think if I decided to stay home with the kids full-time there would be plenty of people we know who would find it worthy of commenting upon, and not just because it is the less common approach. This scanario is not the case with everyone, I know. And obviously, having less of a choice in some sense makes the choice easier-- I know I am supposed to go work and make as much money as I can while still contributing as much as possible around the house, period.

Matt Weiner

Keep your own space clean

This might be hard if the two of you share a bedroom or something.

I once lived with someone who was even messier than me -- which is barely possible -- and I was unable to sustain this strategy with respect to the dishes in the sink. Eventually they had to be thrown out. I don't think housework strikes are practical at all.

BigMacAttack

SomeCallMeTim,

I am just never sure. That was ironic right? You are making fun of the rational/self reliant/libertarian/boot strap type pesona? Right? Or maybe not that persona but you are definitely being ironic? Right?

jerry

The statistical evidence about who does what is abundant enough. If you're claiming a "natural" mechanism that makes it likelier for women to enjoy or be more capable at housework than men, surely it's up to you to produce some evidence for that claim, isn't it? Otherwise, what particular reason is there that culture shouldn't serve as an explanation?

Statistical studies are correlative not causative.

Scientists, geneticists, biologists claim to have found all sorts of social genes. DNA that purports to control fidelity, homosexuality, anger or bad behavior, extroversion or social interaction. (google for social gene). This squarely shows that often times what is believed to be nurture is a combination of nature and nurture.

If I do not produce evidence or a theory as to why men may be different from women, the only alternative is not to assume the correct reason is nurture. I would think the most reasonable alternative is to suggest it is a combination of nature as well as nurture.

Might it be the case that there were genetic reasons for women to prefer tidier environments?

I think there might. What says Belle?

I am not an evolutionary biologist. I am however aware that women during pregnancy are more sensitive to smell and apparently can detect food that has gone bad better during pregnancy and afterwards than before. Is that nature, or nurture?

I am not an evolutionary biologist, so I cannot say this is a reasonable theory or explanation, but I believe that throughout history women often suckled their newborns and infants after pregnancy.

This leads me to wonder if there might not have been evolutionary pressure for men to perform hunting activities away from home while women performed child raising and home keeping and gathering activities near the home. Breeding couples that interacted in this manner may have been the more successful breeders. Evolution may have favored this behavior and any genes that helped to express this behavior.

Studies have shown that men are not as good at naming colors as women. Should we yell at men because they don't care about summer vs. winter colors and how they go together? Is it nurture or nature?

So goes this post of Belle's: bad bad men who refuse to believe that it is all nature. They should be hit.

jerry

Whoops that last nature should be a nurture of course.

SomeCallMeTim

I don't think I'm being ironic or libertarian. I think people have different preferences for a wide range of things, and sometimes they correlate with gender. Sometimes they don't. Weiner's a guy, and his cleanliness preference is higher than at least one other guy's. It doesn't mean that Weiner comes off as a woman, and therefore the other guy expected him to clean up. It means the other guy was a lazy, selfish git, and probably didn't think much about cleanliness at all. Usually people end up negotiating a set point for different preferences. And then they backslide on those negotiations.

The correlation with gender may exist, but I don't think it motivates the behavior.

Matt Weiner

Weiner's a guy, and his cleanliness preference is higher than at least one other guy's.

Exactly one other guy's, I'm pretty sure.

It doesn't mean that Weiner comes off as a woman

That's not what you say at the Mineshaft.

baa

Belle, you are hilarious as always, but I think SCMTim is basically correct. Here's my reasoning by personal anecdote. All male rooming groups I recall in college -- mess, little attention to cleanliness or decor. All female rooming groups I recall in college -- clean, attended-to common spaces. Feel free, one and all, to adduce evidence that falsifies my own knowledge of my past, but *in my experience* sex is an excellent predictor of threshold for mess tolerance, and this is true *in the absence* of mixed sex rooming.

Let's just stipulate that this is true, and not lying self-serving propaganda. What would follow? Why, that when men and women live together, they will have different standards of tidiness, and will attach different implied prices to cleaning activities. Like the grimy bathtub. It's not like all things being equal, men want a grimy bathtub. No, that's crazy. It's rather that the price men (on average) will pay to have a clean bathtub is lower than what women (on average) will pay. Result: hilarity!

BigMacAttack

SomeCallMeTim,

Certainly at least some of the issue is due to culture/social conditioning.

Let me try for a second to take your sugesstion for an easy way to address the matter seriously.

No I cannot.

But lets pretend the couple sit down and talk. The man being just, fair, and loving agrees he needs to do more around the house. Everyone is happy. Not. Because you don't wash away years of social conditioning with a good sit down/talk and the intellectual realization that you need to do more around the house.

So the guy starts sliding. Because in his mind A he is still doing 50%, and B though he might not be aware or admit it, he really feels she should do more house work.

And she finds it a hassle to get on his back about it. And though she has the Feminine Mystique all marked up and dog eared she also feels she should be doing more work. She is aware of this and finds it irritating but she isn't quite aware of just how deep it runs.

The hassle is just too much. So it is back to square one. She does 70% and he does 30%. Boo ho ho ho. Life isn't fair.

[A schedule might work better but I doubt it.]

washerdreyer

SCMT, if differential prefences do exist, that's not enough. You have to look at the formation conditions of those preferences.

BigMacAttack

I too have dream regarding equality.

I dream that one day a short ugly guy like myself will be able to walk into a bar filled with hot chicks.

And those hotties will buy me drinks, and talk about how great thay are, all in the hopes of getting in my pants.

And when that day arrives, I will pick up my socks.

SomeCallMeTim

You have to look at the formation conditions of those preferences.

Unless there is some cleanliness level that is "just" or "necessary," why?

In my experience, as a general matter, men are more likely to love electronic gewgaws than women. This might also be conditioned. So perhaps I buy a nice computer for myself, spending a fair piece of my own cash to do so. The hypothetical woman I live with also likes having a nice computer available, but not enough to pay for it. I suppose I could tell her not to use my computer because I paid for it, but then I would be a dick. She's not trying to take advantage of me; it's just that as a function of our different preferences, she's getting a bit of a free ride. If it bothers me enough, we'll negotiate about it.

I don't see the difference between the above and the case of cleanliness. Except that being unclean is likely to be significantly more irritating.

battlepanda

It's true. By the time that you get to the college level, there are probably some real differences in people's level of tidiness and their skill level in being able to maintain it. This has nothing to do with chromosomes, and everything to do with societal expectations and conditioning. You put a handful of poor little rich girls who never had to pick up their rooms back at homes, and you can bet that the room is going to be a disaster zone. Probably less of a disaster zone than the boy's room, but only because they know that as females they are more likely to be judged harshly for living in squalor.

For instance, when there is just the two of us, both my boyfriend and I are equally slobbish -- we clean when we can't stand it anymore. It works quite well, actually, since our level of mess-tolerance is similar. However, the moment we hear that guests are to arrive, all bets are off. I'm the one running around like a headless chicken stuffing things into closets and scrubbing down surfaces, because I know that if the house is messy, the disapproval is probably going to fall on me.

I do think, by the way, that most superneatfreaks who go too far are women. This too is unsurprising. Ever tuned on the TV and seen commercials of mom cleaning up the mess with the help of bounty or mom cleaning up the bathroom with the use of kaboom or whatever...the message is consistant -- you are the woman...you show that you are a good woman by keeping your house insanely spotless...to help you do this without tearing your hair out, buy X!"

MDtoMN

I'm REALLY tired of people telling women not to clean so that men "feel the pain". Relationships aren't about that. It's quite possible that women want things cleaner than men - men need to step up and compromise and do their share.

Listen, there were times when I haven't wanted to have sex, but I did it - NOT because my bf pressured me (which he didn't), but because I made a decision to do something nice for him because I care about him enough to sometimes do things I'm not super excited about. Similarly, there were times (probably more times actually) when I wanted to have sex and he wasn't that excited, but he did it because he wanted to do something nice for me too. Relationships aren't about 2 autonomous people living together and doing their own thing and having their way and never doing anything they don't like. Relationships are about meeting each other half-way sometimes, because the Relationship is worth not always having your way. Good Relationships let both people have their way most of the time - usually because they're in sync and mostly want the same things at the same time, but sometimes because they make tradeoffs.

If the woman wants it neater than the man, the two need to talk about it and determine what is good enough for both of them and then split the work to achieve it. It might not be as neat as the woman wants and it might mean it's neater than the man needs, but it's FAIR. If the woman needs every room cleaned thoroughly every week, she might need to compromise. If the man doesn't need to clean the shower more than once every 2 months, he might need to compromise. That's a relationship, a fair relationship.

MDtoMN

Finally, I'm a basically messy guy. I look like a neat freak compared to my sister and best female friend. If you seriously think that women are naturally neater, I have NO IDEA what you're talking about.

SomeCallMeTim

If the woman wants it neater than the man, the two need to talk about it and determine what is good enough for both of them and then split the work to achieve it.

I agree. As I said above, these things get (or should get) negotiated. But these sorts of negotiations aren't limited to differently gendered pairs. We do this sort of thing all of time. I have had male roommates that made me clean the house. That was fine, and it didn't lead to hott gay sex. It's called living with other people without being a complete dick.

BigMacAttack

SomeCallMeTim,

I was right. It is too bad Mrs Raynd is dead. You would have made a nice couple.

washerdreyer

Calling SCMT a randite might be unnecessary.

SomeCallMeTim

BMA: I'm not sure what difference you see between my position and MDtoMN's. Though I suppose he might be a Randian, too.

SomeCallMeTim

Calling SCMT a randite might be unnecessary.

I have to admit, I prefer "catamite."

BigMacAttack

'I agree. As I said above, these things get (or should get) negotiated. But these sorts of negotiations aren't limited to differently gendered pairs.'

'Usually people end up negotiating a set point for different preferences. And then they backslide on those negotiations.'

Yes and part of the reason why men and women back slide on such neogiations is because of cultural/social conditioning. See above for an explanation of how it might work. And no amount, well maybe some amount might, of intellectual rationalization is going to overcome that social conditioning.

'Look, there's an easy way to address this matter. If you're a woman and live with a man, don't clean. Just don't. No matter how badly you want to clean. Make him feel the costs of not cleaning. Keep your own space clean and don't worry about the rest. If it bothers him enough, he'll learn.'

No, that is not an easy solution, and anyone who finds themselves reduced to striking, to get a pig up off the couch and cleaning, should probably just ditch the pig.

Solving disputes rationally is a good general practice and sound individual advice.

Pretending like we can somehow free ourselves from all our cultural conditioning and rationally solve all our problems is silly.

So we need to change our culture.

Dr. Free-Ride

I'm curious if the women who are doing 70 percent of the chores actually attempted to not do them. Would men pick up the slack as the house gets messier and messier or the drycleaning never gets taken to the drycleaners?

In the interests of science: I don't clean. Indeed, I am not bothered by the mess except on rare occasions when it turns a corner. My (XY) spouse, who is bothered by the mess, cleans it.

Could it be that, despite what I thought was overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I'm not XX?

Please advise.

SomeCallMeTim

should probably just ditch the pig

I wouldn't disagree. There are a range of options open.

Pretending like we can somehow free ourselves from all our cultural conditioning and rationally solve all our problems is silly.

So we need to change our culture.

There seems to be a micro/macro issue here. How exactly are we going to change the culture without freeing ourselves from our cultural conditioning? Or at least attempting to do so in all of those little negotiations?

Just Karl

straight-up nutbag sexists like just karl

Are you calling me a scrotum? That's hysterical (in the truest sense of the root).

I think modern feminism has become less about equal pay for equal work and more about every woman being a princess who deserves to have her every need catered to. It's all about selfishness, now. Perhaps the solution is to do away with Prince Charming and other such harlequin romances so that young women won't be nurtured into desiring a big diamond ring.

I'll believe that feminists are truely interested in equility when they start demanding joint child custody as the standard for divorce.

Nicole

I'm afraid I'll have to side somewhat with SomeCallMeTim. When I and the SO first lived together housework was an issue. What made it quickly not an issue was a) agreeing on who would do what of the must do chores and b) the "if you are annoyed enough to complain about it do it yourself" rule.

A recent example of this in action. The SO does all the laundry except for the very delicate things. I wash those and hang them up. I then retrieve them from the indoor line as I need them. The SO complained. I invoked rule b. He started bringing the delicates upstairs with him when he brought up the rest of the laundry. Which is convenient, sure, but I really don't mind either way.

Occasionally I get a fit of socially induced guilt about the things that are neither must do chores, nor things that bother either of us. But then instead of dusting the ceiling fans I read a good book. Dusting ceiling fans once a week is not a productive use of anyones time. All in all I'd say he does about 60% of the housework.

Of course there are complete louts that won't do anything at all, and times when the right thing is to dump the lout, and of course the culture is fundamentally sexist about all those things. But what SCMT is talking about is how on a day-to-day level you work on changing things.

Patrick

It seems to me that the thesis that men don't "care less about housework" but instead are "used to women picking up after them" is easily testable by looking to see how men, on average, live when there is no woman picking up after them.

*looks around apartment...*

About that...

It seems to me that the sexist assumptions that need to be overthrown are not limited to merely the assumptions about who's "duty" it is to handle housework. Its also the assumptions about how much housework a "proper" home needs done in a given time period. A lot of people seem to have this assumption about orderliness of the home which is born out of being raised in a household where either 1) the mother was a stay at home mother who did a great deal of housework, or 2) the mother worked, and then worked doubletime to complete the housework.

If we got rid of the 1950s tv-commercial assumptions about how a home should look, a lot of housework would go away, freeing up time for everyone.

Probably wouldn't fix the whole problem, but it would help. And it wouldn't make the female burden of housework look like such a self inflicted wound.

Final disclaimer- Sure, there are some chores that have to be done eventually no matter what, and which cannot be lessened by ignoring them. Say, laundry, if you begin with the assumption that you won't rewear unlaundered clothes. Delaying laundry doesn't make less laundry. Vacuuming, however, is a periodic chore, and the less you care about it, the less often you do it, and the less time you lose. A lot of tidiness chores are like this.

DaveL

If the woman wants it neater than the man, the two need to talk about it and determine what is good enough for both of them and then split the work to achieve it. It might not be as neat as the woman wants and it might mean it's neater than the man needs, but it's FAIR. If the woman needs every room cleaned thoroughly every week, she might need to compromise. If the man doesn't need to clean the shower more than once every 2 months, he might need to compromise. That's a relationship, a fair relationship.

Yup. Part of the solution to the housework problem is for men to do more. But there are certainly cases where part of the solution is just for less housework to get done. If women are being socialized to believe that they're duty-bound to maintain a June Cleaver level of housekeeping while working full time, chauffering kids around, etc., getting Ward's ass off the couch is necessary but not sufficient. The couple also needs to work through how much cleanliness they really need to have to be comfortable and how much leisure they're willing to give up get it. And they may well end up in a situation where she keeps pushing him to do more and he keeps pushing her to do less and somehow they muddle through.

DaveL

Damn, Patrick, next time let me know when you're writing the same post as I am and doing a better job of it, and I'll skip the post and go dust some lamps.

joe o

Section III of the Linda Hirshman article that MY cites gives advise for women to avoid traditional roles. Her suggestions are pretty clearly of rational/self-reliant/libertarian/bootstrap variety.

Her suggestions include:

Prepare yourself to qualify for good work
- don’t study liberal arts

Treat work seriously-
- work for the money

Don’t put yourself in a position of unequal resources when you marry.
-marry down

Avoid taking on more than a fair share of the second shift
- don’t take on the household manager role
- live with a dirty house
- don’t have more than one kid

Gary Farber

"...on Judith Warner's NYT op-ed."

Possibly might want to fix the broken link there. (Might want to use this, anyway, so it doesn't rot behind the paywall, in a few days, as well, perhaps.)

45 comments and no one notes the broken link?

And WTF does Matt claim the Warner piece is "behind the NY Times paywall," when, of course, it isn't (yet -- should be on the 15th)?

Well! You people just "make me a little sad for us all."

Especially you wo-people baytches, with your whole leftist "cleaning" cause. Stop oppressing me!

And Belle, quit draw[ing] on your own beliefs and anecdotes! You must stop this insanity at once! A blog is no place for that sort of thing!

Gary Farber

A point no one seems to have made is that, by my observation, at least, someone, male or female, who has gone through the military, or who was raised by a parent in the military, is rather apt to have an entirely different standard of acceptable cleanliness than someone who has not. Not always, of course; but often.

jerry

Actually amygdalabreath, that point was made up above.

If Belle wants to say the situation sucks, that's fine. If she wants to make an argument saying that other people suck, and then carefully explaining why, then she can expect to have her argumented dissected, and dissected along scientific and logical lines.

Apparently you're all for the intelligent design school of argument. Belle feels it strongly so we mustn't say boo.

Gary, just why the fuck do people link to you, I've never figured that one out.

Gary Farber

"Gary, just why the fuck do people link to you, I've never figured that one out."

Another fan won over!

(You're quite correct, of course, that I missed that battlepanda made the military point in passing; my mistake to have not noticed.)

"Belle feels it strongly so we mustn't say boo."

If you say so; I'm reasonably sure I made no suggestions to anyone besides Belle, let alone made use of an imperative.

I do thank you for pondering questions about my blog, readership, and who links to or blogrolls my blog, Jerry. I'm glad to have provided you with food for thought. Thanks for letting me know!

Saam Barrager

Advertisers know who consumes their products.

Baby products show a baby, or a baby and a woman. I don't recall ever seeing a man on any baby product that had a picture of an adult. I don't recall every seeing a cleaning product advertised to a man. (You know, like the ad where the man just finishes up with the floor and a sexy woman comes in in a miniskirt and smiles at him?)

jrochest

'Look, there's an easy way to address this matter. If you're a woman and live with a man, don't clean. Just don't. No matter how badly you want to clean. Make him feel the costs of not cleaning. Keep your own space clean and don't worry about the rest. If it bothers him enough, he'll learn.'

Uh, no. No, he won't. Housekeeping is a 2 to 4 hour a day commitment, and most people won't do it until forced. And allowing someone to dictate that you live in squalor (male or female, old or young) or work your tail off to flush their toilets and wash their dishes for them is foolish.

No, women who find that their sexual partners expect them to be unpaid maids should just leave. Slobs are lousy lovers, anyway: blind and stupid selfishness isn't a great trait in bed. And the kids will be less work without him around than with.

Jonquil

"I personally am convinced that women have more energy than men, in much the same way that male lions, though stronger than their female counterparts, sit around on their asses for the most part while the females do all the work."

The. Fuck?

The major complaint of every mother I know is how tired she is. That's nearly as true when the child is 16 as when the child is 1.

Yes, my extra X chromosome gives me a magical wellspring of energy. Look! I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, AND never let you forget you're a man!

It isn't that we have more energy; it's that we can't afford to quit.

Nicole

"Housekeeping is a 2 to 4 hour a day commitment"

/boggle

I can't imagine what has to be done every day that takes that long. are you sure you didn't mean 2-4 hours a week? I guess I am just slovenly.

Kevin Hayden

Of course, us guys are forced to do all the work during sex. Has anyone considered that? I mean, chicks demand all that unnecessary foreplay that guys don't want. Then we have to do all the begging and grovelling. Then, if she wakes up, we have to be the ones who get on top and works while she just lays there.

Is it any wonder us guys are too tired to dust the knick-knacks and rinse off the french fries we drop on the floor? Puh-leeze.

LizT

My husband was raised in a house with a somewhat disabled mother. He came to my marriage knowing how to do his own laundry, mop a floor, just about all if it but cook.

My mother waited on me hand and foot but never taught me how to do any of it.

We're now pretty even on the chores, and our house is clean, but not uncluttered, or dusted and we weight too much from processed food because neither of us like to cook.

We're trying to teach the kid to do all these things, and I hope to god she meets some man who has been taught to do all these things because, much like me, she doesn't care if things get cluttered up and she doesn't much like 'housework.' She does like to cook, sometimes.

All in all, her expectation is for a man to do at least half the housework because that's what she's seen. She's 10. I hope she is able to find that man, or woman, someday.

Empiricist

So the arguments seem to boil down to something like this:

Feminist: Women do the majority of the housework. This is unfair.

Anti-feminist: Women prefer to have things tidier than men do, so their choice to work harder is just a result of their personal preference.

Feminist: But those choices aren't authentic (b/c of socialization in early life, a tendency for guests to look negatively on the *woman* when the apartment isn't clean, etc.)

Seems to me that both parties in this debate are missing the important point that a man who doesn't care about the preferences of his female roommate is being an asshole. This is particularly true in the case of housework, where men are actively creating work for women.

Suppose I and my roommate had a conflict because I keep bringing home loud houseguests, playing loud music at all hours of the night, and so on, and he wants to be able to sleep. It wouldn't be fair to say that this was only his problem, because we have different preferences regarding noise, and that the responsibility should all be on him to buy earplugs, change his sleep patterns, and crash at friends' places so he can sleep. The real problem in this situation is that I'm being an asshole.

Just Karl

Anti-feminist: Whose choice was it to marry an asshole?

Feminist: My choice wasn't authentic because I was socialized into believing I would marry Prince Charming and thus I failed to pick up on the fact that he lived in a pigsty while we were dating.

LJRphoto

"I too have dream regarding equality.

I dream that one day a short ugly guy like myself will be able to walk into a bar filled with hot chicks.

And those hotties will buy me drinks, and talk about how great thay are, all in the hopes of getting in my pants.

And when that day arrives, I will pick up my socks."

Wow, I'm so moved by this "I have a dream" comment I can barely see the screen through my tears.

lindenen

Is there any culture on earth where women and men split the domestic chores evenly? Or where men do most of the domestic chores?

Older

I'm really interested in nokon13's assertion that he has lived with "numerous" women . . . without ever having had to clean, cause they are just so into it, donchaknow. I wonder how many is "numerous?" I figure it has to be more than three or four, probably at least ten. No matter what time period this experience covers, I think anyone who has lived with "numerous" women has been moving on that much for a reason. Could it be that these "numerous" women rousted his ass because he wouldn't help out? Just askin.

Jeff

Jonquil--

Yeah, that is exactly the point of my comment, that you gals have a magical store of Mommy Power that makes it okay that you work so hard.

The lion reference was somewhat tongue in cheek, although I do think you can draw parallels between humans and other mammals on a host of behavioral questions. My point is simply that in my experience, for whatever reason, women (including my mother, my aunt, my sister, my wife) are more likely to maintain a constant energy level than men (who may exert themselves mightily on a given task, but then power down). I admire that, if that was unclear from my post.

Tony

I'm REALLY tired of people telling women not to clean so that men "feel the pain". Relationships aren't about that. It's quite possible that women want things cleaner than men - men need to step up and compromise and do their share.

I find this an interesting discussion...

Women have a higher expectation of clean than men. So men are expected to step up to the plate and do their share to meet that expectation.

Men have a higher expectation of sex than women. So women are expected to step up to the plate and do their share to meet that expectation? :)

CoffeeFan

Yet another site on chores helper???? Naahh! The only site that will give you the complete lowdown on chores helper. You need look no further for information and resources.

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