I rarely read the AGE Sunday magazine these days, and the last time I dipped into it it, it exceeded all expectations for Terrible. Blue Milk and Eglantine’s Cake have already written about the article by Sarina Lewis on “The Invisible Men”: Men are actually doing more domestic work now than women, did you know? Not just that, but they don’t get any appreciation for it!
Well – not quite. Now, I’m not saying a food writer can’t write convincingly about gender politics. Look at Crazybrave Zoe and Twisty at IBTP. But unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if Lewis will take this topic to their level of excellence.
Yet figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics bear out a startlingly even spread of domestic and professional labour: a 2006 study into how Australians used their time found that men spent a combined average (over seven days) of 11.44 hours per day performing professional, childcare and domestic tasks. And women? They came in at a combined average of 11.35 hours – nine minutes less than the men.
All credible studies, from the ABS (including more up-to-date information), the Australian Institute of Family Studies and HILDA surveys, tell us what we already know: women still do the bulk of domestic work, whether working or not. Notice how Lewis slipped the “professional” in there? That’s not part of the domestic load. It’s paid work which goes on the CV and contributes to your superannuation.
And as you begin to take on more of the domestic load, even where your share – minus Lewis’s numerical massage – is less than half, guess what? It’s tiring! Which is a bit of a shock. And kind of demeaning, because it is ballbreaking for men to do housework, which is coded female. So we get sad, sad pictures like this
…Why is he “holding” the mop like that? Is the ignominy of it all so crushing he has to appear entirely bemused by it? Is he a store dummy? Why is he wearing a nice suit to do the housework?
And this (from the Daily Mail in the UK)
Gah! You can see how hellish life has become for these poor, poor men! And according to Lewis, not a word of appreciation!
“There is a legitimate desire from men to be acknowledged,” says Jones, who suggests that the modern man’s role in society is vastly different from that of his father…Feelings of neglect arise, they say, when the stresses and strains of their lives – now as complex as those of their wives – go unnoticed.
Ok, about the appreciation thing. It goes back to the same principle as referring to the bloke’s contribution as “help” – the notion that the woman still owns the domestic load with a limited potential to delegate, rather than the man taking on an equal share of the responsibility, including the planning and remembering component. I’m not against partners giving each other appreciation, of course, it’s wonderful. But it’s assumed, to some extent, that a mature adult will perform certain tasks on a fairly regular basis. As far as women getting more appreciation: really? We still assume, even in 2010, that a mother is going to do various boring household tasks without being thanked for it – apart from the ritual “thank”fest and Hallmark card on Mothers day. Or as Rebekka said here, “they’re kidding, right?”
Expecting recognition for day-to-day housework is an indication that you believe your role in that housework constitutes a heroic act above and beyond the call of duty.
Guys, welcome to our world. Yes, you may find it frustrating and annoying at times. We certainly have.