I find the question of who keeps the house clean a fascinating one. Maybe because I am a total slob and I pretty much don’t know anyone my age that is married and stays at home or has the time to do most of the cleaning in the house. But there are couples that do, right? They have kids, they both work and the bulk of housework still falls on the shoulders of women. Obviously, this plays out really different based on your class background or the type of relationship you are in, but consistently, both in my experience, the experience of my peers and others, the majority of house work falls on the shoulders of women. It is the assumed default position, that if it isn’t done, than guess who is going to end up doing it.
Well, according to this article from Parenting.com the main reason for this is that we as women really have to stop keeping tabs on who is doing what and just, you know, take one for the team. Oh and don’t nag while you are in the process. Kthnx.
Stop nagging, start talking
“When we’re tired and stressed out, we don’t usually talk to our partners as respectfully as we might otherwise,” says Kristen Harrington, a marriage and family therapist in Kingston, New York, and a mom of two. “We women, particularly, get bitter about our husbands’ not noticing what needs to be done around the house and start treating them like their IQs are 20 points lower.” Men, for their part, seem to tune out their wives when they nag.
Um, maybe we get bitter because we consistently end up doing more work and usually the work that is considered women’s labor? I understand this article is assuming, hetero, middle class, married couples that have money for the mortgage. So I want to pull us out of that frame of reference. This sexual division of labor that is instilled in us through the household and then through the media and other forms of socialization trickle into every way that we interact with each other. Who does what jobs at the work place and how is that reflected in their gender? Why are the majority of nurses and teachers women and the majority of doctors and principals men?
Who is expected to do what in the household is extremely political and it isn’t just a matter of convenience or someone whining more than the other. It is based on a historical division of labor that is the crux of the nation. Furthermore, when middle class women do not have the time to clean their houses, who do they hire to clean them? So still, today, the majority of house cleaning is done by women and mostly women of color.