Watching Amanda Marcotte try to understand how marriages and families work is like watching a puppy try to understand a Roomba: there’s a lot of yapping and barking and running around in circles, but comprehension remains elusive.
Marcotte writes about a study that shows men and women who shared housework before children tended to diverge into more traditional roles once babies show up on the scene.
Ohio State’s Claire Dush and colleagues used time diaries with self-defined egalitarian couples before and after the baby arrived. Before baby, couples shared housework equally. Nine months after the baby arrived, couples continued to report putting in the same hours of work, but their diaries revealed that in fact “women added 22 hours of childcare (physical and engagement) to their work week while doing the same amount of housework and paid work as before. Men added 14 hours of childcare to their work week, but did 5 fewer hours of housework after the baby’s birth.” Kuperberg found the same trend—it is children, not marriage, that leads to an uneven division of labor at home.
Marcotte writes her usual bile-filled diatribe against men, rather than asking a few exploratory questions in search of an explanation. Like most feminist journalists, Marcotte shrieks “misogyny lazy asshole bastard men” and considers that an adequate answer.
We could ask fathers to honor this Mother’s Day by giving Mom a break around the house—at least give her that extra hour of leisure time that you have and she doesn’t. But that would suggest you’re doing her a favor.
Let’s start with the assumption that men don’t actually hate women, and dads don’t sit around on their asses eating bon-bons and playing video games while mom slaves in the kitchen. First question is “what constitutes housework?”
Looking at one study, housework is defined out of the starting gate as being those tasks traditionally done by women: cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Another cross national study uses shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry. Both studies also considered childcare.
So sweeping the kitchen floor is considered housework, but sweeping the driveway is not. Picking up toys is housework, picking up leaves and grass cuttings is not. Sorting laundry is housework, sorting recycling and garbage is not. Men’s housework is erased from the equation before the survey even begins. That seems fair. Despite the removal of men’s traditional housework from the equation, men have still dramatically increased the amount of time they spend on housework. What this likely means is that men do more housework than women, as the discounted work still needs to get done. Oh, but oops, that doesn’t fit the “men are lazy assholes” feminist narrative.
According to the Pew Research Council, mothers and fathers carry an almost equal load when it comes to paid work, childcare and housework with men spending 58 hrs per week on these activities and women spending 59 hrs.
However, Pew uses the Bureau of Labor Statistics Time Use Survey, which explicitly only considers housework done in the interior of the home as work (p.21). It also only counts repairing and maintaining textiles as work. Can anyone say confirmation bias?
02 Household Activities
01 Interior cleaning
03 Sewing, repairing, and maintaining textiles
04 Storing interior household items, including food
99 Housework, n.e.c.
Mending a nightgown is work. Cleaning out the gutters is not. Sewing teddy’s ear back on is work. Stripping and refinishing the deck is not. Putting away the laundry is work. Putting away the kids bikes and skateboards and wagons in the garden shed is not. Microwaving frozen pizza counts as cooking. BBQing a whole chicken and some peppers does not (because it’s done outside).
Which tasks are more likely to be done by men?
These surveys are deliberately designed to create the impression that women are victims and men are lazy freeriders working their women to the bone.
What a load of crap.
Second question about these surveys is “how much does gatekeeping influence childcare?” Gatekeeping is when mothers deliberately exclude fathers from childcare duties as a means of reducing their bond with the child and controlling the relationship. It’s not that uncommon. This study demonstrated a clear relationship between maternal gatekeeping and paternal involvement in childcare.
The findings suggested a significant, negative association between maternal gatekeeping and paternal involvement. The results of the most parsimonious path analysis revealed that nonresidential status of the father was directly linked to maternal gatekeeping. Father competence was directly linked to maternal gatekeeping and to amount of father involvement. Gatekeeping was causally linked to amount of father involvement.
How much of the difference in hours spent on childcare is due to women deciding men are incompetent and restricting the amount of childcare a man is permitted to be involved in? See page 1039 for specific examples and be prepared to be astonished at the pettiness of these mothers. From the same study:
Gatekeeping has been an understudied topic. The findings of the present study suggest that maternal gatekeeping is a significant coparenting variable that is relevant to understanding father involvement. Of particular interest is that mothers are more likely to restrict the father’s involvement with children when she perceives the man to have low parenting competence.
Could it be that the reason men do less childcare is because women are control freaks who won’t let them? Doesn’t take a genius to figure out why feminists might not like that topic investigated, does it? It’s hard to complain that parenting is unequal when it’s women excluding and controlling men’s access to their own children, and it strongly suggests that women are treating men unfairly.
It’s amazing what you can uncover when you don’t start with the assumption that men are bad. Feminists will almost always begin with that assumption, manipulate data to confirm the hypothesis, then offer the data as proof that yes, men suck. But that’s not hate speech. No, not at all.
Perhaps this Mother’s Day, mothers should reflect on how they are treating their family members and how that might be a factor in the perception they do more work than men. Who is selling this narrative, and for what reason? Refusing to acknowledge the work men do around the house, and restricting access to children is a recipe for disaster, for the whole family. Don’t be that mom. Don’t drink the feminist kool-aid.
Lots of love,
[Feature image licensed under CC3.0 This picture was taken during the summer of 2012 during a commercial gutter installation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Previously published: http://coasttocoastgutters.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/commercial-gutter-installation–e1344548467423.jpeg]–