The difference in the allotment of chores for women born in 1958 and women born in 1970 is… 1. 8 out of 10 54 year olds say they do more laundry and ironing than their partner compared to 7 out of 10 42 year old women.
For some reason both the Guardian and the Daily Mail have chosen to place this problem at the door of feminism, because guys, it’s been 40 years now where’s this equality you’ve been banging on about? Sadly there’s still racism in this world too but I don’t see headlines claiming the civil rights movement has been piss poor, let’s not bother with it every time there’s another hate crime.
According to Netmums housework tops most women’s lists of stressful things. The results of a poll taken by the site reveal the expected outcome that women feel obliged to do their housework if their partner is the main breadwinner.
The IPPR have used this research to stress the need to close the gender pay gap. We close the gender pay gap and women will feel more able to bargain and delegate household chores. Nick Pearce, director of IPPR said: “Women still shoulder the overwhelming burden of household tasks…When they earn more; their bargaining power with their partners increases, so closing the gender pay gap would help.”
Closing the gender pay gap has been what feminism has been concentrating on, alongside free childcare, rape crisis centres, domestic violence, education for girls and so on. Housework, and the delegation of it, comes as a result of various other feminist priorities bearing fruit.
In Joan Williams’s book Unbending Gender Williams points towards the problem that women often ascribe less importance to their role. That’s their role in general, if they are the chief breadwinner they are failing as a housewife and the role of breadwinner is, therefore, devalued. If they are the housewife they are not contributing properly to the running of the home.
Because the housewife is still the chief expected role for women, the logical assumption if you are a working married woman with children is you are sacrificing something for your job. Any time you spend being ambitious, earning money, building your career is time you could be spending cooking nourishing soups for your children or reading to your children. But mostly this is time you should be scrubbing your toilets until your children and husband could eat off them you dirty, dirty career woman.
In addition to closing the gender pay gap, supermarkets and cleaning brands need to switch advertising companies. Or at the very least demand a new formula. Whilst we are on the theme of blaming feminism let’s address the complaint of the likes of Tom Martin and John Rutherford who claim feminism has infantilised men.
What could be more humiliating than a cleaning product being shilled as something even men with their big meaty clown hands can use? I don't think feminists are at the top of the advertising game. Why are women painted as some super-being when it comes to cleaning up after a pair of miserable children who have all their bread desires catered to and a husband who couldn’t possibly wipe his feet after being out breadwinning all day?
Expectations. Feminism is about changing them and forcing a rethink of certain traditions and we invite you all to rethink these. Man, woman, child. And wipe your bloody feet.