Most people who identify as women have to work in this day and age–that’s just the reality of the time we live in (sorry “get back in the kitchen” advocates). But while the day-to-day lives of women have changed substantially, gendered expectations around housework have not. According to a study released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, despite significant shifts in women’s participation in the workforce, the amount of work they do in the house has only shifted marginally.
Some of the findings include:
Household Activities in 2011
–On an average day, 83 percent of women and 65 percent of men spent some
time doing household activities such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or
financial and other household management.
–On the days that they did household activities, women spent an
average of 2.6 hours on such activities, while men spent 2.1 hours.
–On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework–such as cleaning
or doing laundry–compared with 48 percent of women. Forty percent of
men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 66 percent of women.
What causes this disparity? Do women just like cleaner houses? Maybe because hubby’s just used to women cleaning up things when they are messy? Maybe because women get sick of asking and just do it? There are so many ways gendered expectations are normalized in day-to-day living and I’d imagine many women just do the work rather than living in filth or constantly fighting about who should do the dishes.
When people talk about equality in their relationships–they often give a lot of that credit to men doing more housework–or how the equality in their relationship is due to splitting up household tasks. Turns out, that’s not as much the case–perhaps dudes are doing more housework than they were in the past, but not as much as the lady is expected to do. When people wonder why feminists critique institutions like heteronormativity, it’s explicitly because of the unspoken gender expectations that are codified in behavior that are so difficult to escape because they are so much deeper than a conscious choice.
NOTE: Feministing friend Andrew Golis just pointed out that 60%of american women aren’t the primary breadwinner, but instead primary and co-breadwinner–which given wage gap means that most aren’t the primary breadwinner.