Domestic Gender Norms

PLEASE NOTE: These norms are generalized.  Other cultures may have other norms, but it is worth it to look at the disparity of responsibility in the home.

The subject of “domestic life” keep coming up in discussions of gender inequities.  In general, most of the supposed “domestic duties” are done by the female (or in same gender relationships, the more subordinate person).  And the supposed “non-domestic duties” are done by the male (or more dominant person).  It’s hard to talk about this in a generalized fashion without going too overboard and not being able to communicate what is important – but I’m going to try.

ANOTHER NOTE:  I’m not talking about the concept of dominant and submissive roles, just that there is a dichotomy of more active/passive roles inside a relationship.  Again, this is not a comment that all women (or men who are somehow deemed effeminate) are supposedly passive and all men (or women who are somehow deemed masculine) are supposedly active.

Any way you look at it, there always seems to be one (or in multiple poly relationships in one home, sometimes more than one) person who gets stuck with the lion’s share of the domestic work.  And the other person (or people) in the relationship seem to think if they do one or two chores around the house that somehow they are doing “an equal amount of work” because they’re ALSO working a full time job.

Well, guess what – in this day and age, EVERYONE in a household has to work.  And if there is ONE person who does not work (whether it be stay-at-home parent or otherwise), it is sadly expected that that person does the majority of the chores.  I myself have taken advantage of this kind of situation, so I’m not just shaking my finger at other people – we ALL have to change this attitude.

Let’s list some of the chores involved in a single relationship, defined as two adults living together with no children.  (It could be a heterosexual couple, or a homosexual couple – hell, it doesn’t even have to be 2 people in a romantic relationship… could be 2 people of any gender being roommates).

And that’s just the

  • Dishes
    • Washing
    • Drying
    • Putting away
  • Clothes
    • Washing
    • Drying
    • Folding
    • Putting away
  • Dusting
    • (multiplied by number of rooms in the home and by number of items in each room)
  • Floors
    • Sweep or vacuum depending on type
    • Mop if not carpeting – cleaner dependent on type of floor
  • Other Necessary Cleaning
    • Bathroom (tub, sink toilet)
    • Stove and Oven
    • Refrigerator
    • Storage Spaces
  • Shopping
    • Groceries
    • Clothing
    • Foot covering(s) (i.e. shoes, slippers, sandles, etc.)
    • Hygiene Items
    • Medical Items
    • Replacement Items (i.e. light bulbs, dish soap, paper towels, napkins, etc)
  • Creating/Cooking
    • Making/Cooking meals
  • Bills (Some items optional)
    • Utilities
    • Phone
    • Internet
    • Credit Cards
    • Vehicle payment(s) or Mass transit fares
    • Insurance
    • Fuel for any vehicle(s)
    • Fixing any vehicle(s)
    • Fixing anything around the house
    • Replacement(s) for needed items
  • Planning
    • Meals
    • Menus
  • Waste
    • Remove trash
    • Empty/Refill any pet related waste receptacles

And that’s just the list I can think of off the top of my head in 10 minutes.  I’m fairly sure I missed some things.

A lot of men think if they do things like mowing, snow removal, trash and inside/outside maintenance, that’s all they need to do.  But those are not daily items, and some aren’t even weekly items. And the maintenance is at need.

Just from this list alone, do you see how imbalanced chores can be?  Most of the above list are considered “woman’s work.” Add kids, or even a partner who can’t drive, and you have people with NO free time for themselves unless they skip sleep, or meals (yes, think about that – the COOK might have to skip eating because of the amount of work needed and the finite amount of time for actually doing all the work AND working a full time job).

Both individuals make the mess. Thus, BOTH individuals need to be part of the solution.

Categories: Gender Inequities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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