The headline on Google read, “More housework means more sex for busy couples.”
I clicked on and dove in, but three minutes later I left unsatisfied.
Same old stuff.
One more useless survey on housework.
This one appeared in the February issue of the Journal of Family Issues.
Women spend twice as much time on housework as men do—41.8 hours per week versus 23.4.
Bull. No woman I know spends six hours a day cleaning house, unless she’s obsessive-compulsive. No man I know cleans 3.3 hours unless he’s polishing the remote.
Let’s scrape the crud off this nonsense. The survey conducted by Montclair State University in New Jersey, interviewed 6,877 couples. It defined housework as hours spent in nine tasks: cleaning, cooking, washing dishes, laundry, driving family members to activities, shopping, yard work, car maintenance and paying bills.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also defines housework this way, although it adds the category home maintenance repair and renovation, typically the manly chores. This brings the household workload numbers closer to reality. According to BLS, women spend a little more than a half hour a day than men do on these chores. Another survey, this done in 2008 by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, shows that in 2005 women averaged 17 hours a week doing housework compared to 13 for men.
I buy that.
Close to equality, but not quite there yet.
There are reasons for that besides the recalcitrant, macho man who thinks his wife is less than his equal, and who refuses to do “women’s work,” thereby skewing the figures and giving the rest of us a bad name, not to mention making us feel guilty, thereby motivating us to do more still.
One of these is that men work about an hour a day more for their employer, according to BLS. Another is a category most surveys don’t account for--projects. I have yet to see a study with the headline “Survey shows men spend more time than women on home projects.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics at least recognizes a similar category and its survey shows the division of labor is closer to equal.
While home projects aren’t done on a daily or weekly basis like cooking or laundry, they are more complicated and time-consuming. Remodeling a room, finishing the basement, replacing a roof or building a deck require reading manuals, researching magazines, consulting friends who know how to do these things over a beer or two and shopping for power tools, gizmos and gadgets. Vroom. Vroom.
Men typically also do these chores: split wood; trim trees and bushes; paint inside and out; mow, trim, weed and feed the lawn; mulch and edge flower beds; build garden walls; hang Christmas lights on eaves, bushes, trees and windows; clean gutters; power-wash and seal the deck and garage floor; clean carpets; replace toilet innards, garbage disposals, sump pumps and fix plumbing leaks; blow insulation into the attic; wash screens; erect, repair and stain the fence; clean the chimney; seal the driveway; adjust thresholds and sliding doors; caulk cracks and holes; patch drywall; wash wax, debug and ream out weep holes along the rocker panels of two cars; check fluids and hoses; vacuum and clean car carpets; change batteries, taillights, headlights and windshield wipers; erect shelving units; clean the garage; change light fixtures; repair the boat; and troubleshoot and fix washing machines, dryers, stoves, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners.
If you do these things, pat yourself on the back, but don’t give yourself a free pass on the cleaning, cooking and washing. If you are in a “neo-traditional” relationship, one in which both spouses are employed, it will not bode well for you. There is no “women’s work.” It’s all work and should be divided through mutual agreement, taking into account skill levels and respect for each other. The real man pitches in on the mundane because he respects his spouse and recognizes her time is as valuable as his time. Otherwise, you are still a boy posing as a man.
That said, some surveys don’t tell the whole story about most modern men. They distort and perpetuate the stereotype of men as remote-grabbing, insensitive slobs.
Oh, by the way, have you read this far and wondered when I’d get to the sex?
The survey concludes that, for both husbands and wives, more time on housework was linked to more frequent sex.
Get out the Scrubbing Bubbles.
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