How is it that Matt Yglesias has such toolicious commenters? Seriously. Just read the thread for this post on Judith Warner's NYT op-ed [broken link fixed, thanks Gary!] Her thesis is that since women in two-earner households do 70% of the housework, then maybe the age of total gender equality has not yet arrived. Matt quotes a sneering Jon Podhoretz, points out why the J-Pod has utterly missed the point, and goes on to say:
All of which is just to say that it has not, in fact, proven to be the case that opening up the doors of professional life to women has brought about the sort of equality that one would have hoped. A deeply entrenched set of social expectations winds up assigning a disproportionate share of the housework to mothers. Specifically because this set of social expectations is deeply entrenched, most women find conforming to those expectations to be the rational thing to do given the options available which serves to further entrench them and to give the unequal outcomes a veneer of having been freely chosen. Meanwhile, though women who choose to remain childless can now compete on an equal footing in the professional arena with men who may or may not be parents, shouldering a disproportionate share of domestic burdens is going to tend to disadvantage you in the workplace even in the absence of actual discrimination.
Wow. That's radical. So radical that I hope nearly every male commenter decides to flunk out of feminism 101 in an uncontrollable reaction to Matt's radical ways. Let's see...
1. "Adrock": Men seem to care less about certain chores. For example, in general, I think they'd rather just let the bathtub get grimy and deal with it than put a little time and elbow grease to clean it up. Is it a matter of priorities? Brain wiring? Societal influences? I don't know.
Damn, why didn't anyone ever consider that? Now that I consider this revelatory idea for the first time, I have to think it's probably because "back in the day", proto-human females liked to "tidy up" their area of the veldt in order to occupy their copious free time, while the males hunted big game. Makes sense to me! 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!"
djLicious:...Maybe women care a little more about a clean house, so even though it's bothersome, they'll do it because they want to have a clean house. 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?
The same can be asked about cooking? If men preferred home-cooked meals, then it seems that if their parters were not cooking, they would get in the kitchen.
I just can't imagine that 70 percent of household chores are getting done because a man is telling his female partner "get thee to the kitchen! fetch me my slippers! pit me an olive!"
I would like to think that I'm doing equal work around the house, but if the lamps are dusted it's not because I prefer dusted lamps. In this case I have to assume that my wife would prefer to dust the lamps than read the newspaper.
Must...not...reach...through...screen and strangle this man. Shorter djLicious: "if some individual man isn't standing over you with a whip saying explicitly sexist things, it can't be sexism, which definitionally cannot include unstated or society-wide pressures! QED! Also, it's not my fault my wife does a lot more housework than me; she's crazy, that's all. Crazy like a fox that likes to dust.
A couple of people say some not-crazy stuff. And then, Daniel Greenbaum gets into the mix:
If taking care of ones child is a chore why have them? I took my daughter to work with me during the first 3 months of her life. Also once a child startes pre-school mothers have a lot of growing free time. I found the article so much whining.
Damn, where'd I put that "#1 DAD" mug? Now, does anyone know the difference between "3 months old" and "starts pre-school"? Maybe, 28 months? And pre-school itself usually ends, when? Beuller? 2pm? (Paid childcare goes till 6 but is not pre-school.) And you know what the solution is for systematic problems with affordable childcare? Don't get knocked up, bitches! Ah, I idly wonder what happened when the three months were up in the Greenbaum household?
I work for myself so I brought my daughter to work until my wife engineering the end of her job. However, the question is whether women are oppressed by staying home with their children. There is no doubt that it can drive one up a wall on occaision but once children start school this is alleviated. My only point was that I know a bit of somethin about being with a small child and it is hard but one can choose not to have a child.
Oooh, "engineering the end of her job." Riiight. And when did Ms. Greenbaum go back to work? One week after she gave birth? I would submit that's a big problem. One month? More likely, and still a burden. So, we're looking at two months max watching the baby during the day...and mom was getting up for the night feeds, just maybe? Pumping milk at work, conceivably? And after that, gave up her job completely? Don't worry! The days until your child is 5 and in full-day school are just going to fly by! Rock on, dad of the century!
Dick Riley:If it's true, as Judith Warner says, that "working women" do 70-plus percent of the housework in their families, I think that brute statistic masks a lot of age and class differences...
Shorter Dick Riley: while it's true that older women, and poorer women, and less educated women are suffering from sexism, my wife totally isn't! And neither are any of the women I know! So, no problem, right?
Sam Ellison: At our house we solved that problem by putting my wife's career first(she was better positioned for success) and I left the workforce to run the house and raise the children. It has allowed my wife to compete on equal footing with her male colleagues and be a mother at the same time. She makes the money and does the mall thing, I have done everything else since Aug. 1990.
Now would someone like to talk about discrimination of the stay-at-home Dad? (I'm not complaining mind you)
You know Sam, that sounds like a perfectly reasonable division of labour for your family. Right on for being willing to flout expectations of your role as a dad. But it seems just a little bit like you are, in fact, complaining. And since even you must acknowledge that your family's choices are very much in the minority, does it really make sense to complain that a 300 word op-ed about pervasive sexism against women doesn't talk about stay-at-home fathers enough? I didn't think so. Next! Bring on the crazy.
Sweet Holy Jeebus. I thought Warner's exclusion of the child care issue as in some sense bizarre, since it weakened her case about the basic inequality of extra-paid-work family labor. But I understood it as a decision to say, well, let's set aside the issue of child care, where we can all agree that women on average spend more time on this task. Let's only look at the other areas of life's chores, and see what we find. Even with this obviously unbalanced area set aside, she is saying, women still do much more of the household chores. Now I learn that an article which says men are doing more child care than in the past, but still don't do nearly half of the other chores, undermines Warner in some way?
I think you are misunderstanding why she excludes childcare in the essay. It goes against her thesis. Men do more child care than they used to:
....Over the years, men have taken on increasing amounts of child-oriented work at home: reading to the kids, giving little ones a bath, monitoring schoolwork, and leading family outings. These fathers enjoy being closer to their children than their fathers were to them. Childcare truly is more rewarding (and, for many men, more acceptable) than laundry care.
But it is the laundry care (and the food shopping, meal preparation, vacuuming, toilet cleaning, etc.) that is still an unsettled issue in many families where both adults have careers. If the family can afford it, the solution is often to buy these services. Although this reduces the fighting, it doesn't necessarily reduce the woman’s resentment. Women may feel angry that family money is going for housecleaning instead of a vacation just because their husbands won't do what the women see as their fair share.
Marcsf decides that the data are skewed because men lie about how much work they do so no one thinks they have caught teh ghey. No, seriously, he says that. Men are out there in droves, scrubbing the toilet with one of those new brushes that have bristles running both up and down so they can clean under the rim and in the bowl at the same time, but then they are lying about it. "What data I did find was not definitive. For instance it was all self-reported. How many men will under-report their housework to not appear a wuss?" Ummm. Fuck, moving on.
Now, this one, I am a little at a loss. I'll just let Just Karl speak for himself:
How is it that mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges, and changing the oil and sparkplugs are never on the list of household chores mentioned by these wo-people?
Also I take exception to the idea that women nag simply because their husbands don't contribute. In my experience women nag no matter what. Even when you agree to do something, they can't stop squawking until it gets done. Then when it's done, they carp about how it wasn't done to their satisfaction. And when it's finally done to their satisfaction, they berate you for your failure or begin hounding you about something new. Women like to nag, they need to nag, and I don't think they should be blaming men for it. It's like saying men cheat because women nag.
Finally, I wonder what percentage of the laundry and dishes someone like MoDo is forced to do?
There you have it, people. Karl takes home the shining golden-plated wrench of tooliciousness. "Wo-people"!!! Why isn't Pinch Sulzburger forcing Maureen Dowd to do dishes? Why not? But damn, competition is getting fierce up in here! Take it away Good 4 A Merica!
The 70% is not cited, so who is to believe it? As to "outsourcing," it seems likely that a two income family of her status CAN outsource if they want, unless, of course, they have to have two houses, two cars, and all the other super-duper high status stuff that she forgets to mention.
As to low status, that is a man who decides to live off his employed wife. Few men have the choice of SamEllison above.
Is she really compalining about her husband, who she seems perfectly willing to shame in the national news, or about her own decisions?
Yeah dude. When the NYT editors are done forcing MoDo to do dishes, they should totally develop a policy under which female columnists are not allowed to say things which imply negative judgments about their husbands. Cause that's just wrong. Finally, let's let nokon13 bring us full circle, with the eternal recurrence of bullshit sexist cop-outs: it's not our fault if chicks are nuts.
Just to recap: if you're a man, and the women in your life pick up after your sorry ass all the time, it's not your fault at all unless you asked her to explicity, and were leering at her and wearing Hugh Hefner silk PJ's at the time. And it's double dog not your fault if she hasn't experimented with a months-long housework strike to plumb the limits of your willingess to live in squalor in order to maintain the double advantages of a clean orderly house and lots of free time. Keep that in mind, progressive kids!
I'm going to go ahead and put myself in the waffly middle... I know from my own experience in having lived numerous women to whom I'm not related, both in a relationship and housemate setting, that all of the women I've ever lived with wanted the house MUCH cleaner than I did. Or rather were much more bothered by things not getting done/cleaned around the house. And I'd put myself somewhere in the middle to upper middle in the distribution of cleanliness for males in my age range. As a respectful person, I've always tried to meet the girls in the middle, doing more cleaning/house chores than I would have if left to my own devices, but not so much as they might have liked. This point has been made above, but I don't think it's trivial. Now, my circle is the young, professional/ grad school oriented crowd, and I've certainly run into guys with attitudes about women that I'm sure translate at home into them not doing chores not because they don't care if they get done but because they think that's a woman's work, but I have to agree that even among the reconstructed crowd, the women I know do more around the house, and it's not because the guys in their lives think it's their job cause they're women...