April 20, 2008

Chores for two: Why men don't pitch in

I don't know how I stumbled onto this article, but something tells me that if I had somehow ended married to this amazing catch I'd be divorced.

It is a polemic about household chores and who does more. As you might have gathered this woman goes on and on and on about how hard women work and how men do not do anything around the house.

Call me what you will, but I found her shrill rant to be annoying. And the poor schlemiel she is married to, whatever is he going to think of her portrayal of him. Let's take a look at this.
"And yet everyone acts as if Jeremy deserves some kind of medal just for making a run to the supermarket. No one has ever suggested that I’m a heroine for doing the things every mother is expected to do. I admit that my husband helps out more than many men, but here’s another news flash: It isn’t because he’s such a fabulously enlightened being. Left to his own devices, he would doubtless park himself in front of the TV like some sitcom male-chauvinist couch potato while I did all the work. The reason Jeremy “helps” as much as he does (an offensive terminology that itself suggests who’s really being held responsible) is simple: He doesn’t have a choice.

From the beginning of our relationship, I made it very clear that I wasn’t going to be any husband’s unpaid servant. If Jeremy wanted to be—and stay—married to me, let alone have kids, he couldn’t stick me with all the boring, mundane stuff nobody wants to do. We were going to share the work, or we were going to forget the whole deal.Unlike my first husband, who announced after our wedding that he didn’t like the way the French laundry did his shirts and he now expected me, the Wife, to wash and iron all of them, Jeremy recognized both the righteousness of the principle involved and the intransigence of the woman he’d married, and proceeded to pitch in.

That was 17 years ago, and while we haven’t exactly achieved equity, we’ve come a lot closer to it than most of our peers, judging by all the dreary surveys proving that men are slugs and their wives are superwomen. So how have I accomplished this? By holding my husband’s feet to the fire every single day of our lives, of course." (emphasis added by me)

It must be nice to be married to a stereotype, a caricature of a person. The poor husband couldn't possibly do anything by himself. Of course by using sex you can get your way. No really, you can offer it as a bribe or cut it off, just ask the amazing author.
Yes, dear readers, it’s true: Maintaining some semblance of parity in your marriage requires you to deploy the same kinds of nasty tactics you swore you would never stoop to as a parent but nonetheless found yourself using the minute you actually had a kid. Bribery and punishment work; so do yelling and complaining. Threats are also effective, as long as everyone knows you mean business. With husbands, tender blandishments and nooky are particularly useful, as is the withholding of the aforementioned.
Who wants to be married to Cruella Devil. If she is half as nuts as she comes across in this piece I'd tell the man to run to the nearest divorce lawyer and get the hell out.

My word.


ProfK said...

The author of this diatribe might remember the old adage "You catch more flies with honey then with vinegar."

Shai said...

Here's one for further discussion...


I've seen it before but didn't realize it might be a fake, but it's still an interesting contrast to what you've posted.

V-Grrrl said...

What this doesn't address at all is priorities and energy levels.

Agreeing on WHAT needs to be done and when (and sometimes how) is the issue that underlies many domestic battles. Whose standards apply? How do partners negotiate their differing notions of cleanliness and order and their needs to have some down time at home and not be working constantly?

I hate all the moral judgments and labels attached to the person in the partnership/marriage who needs to kick back a bit after work before handling chores or who doesn't care whether the bed is made in the morning or the shoes lined up perfectly in the closet.

Every couple needs to come to their own understanding on these things. Coercion, threats, and keeping score? That's the Mafia, not marriage.

Jack said...


You are absolutely correct.


I'll have to check it out.

Coercion, threats, and keeping score? That's the Mafia, not marriage.

That would make a great t-shirt.

Debbie said...

My mother had an old saying, "If you want something done, or done right, ... do it yourself". My hubby is a great guy, talented in so many areas ... house chores are not one of them. I did not marry him for his ability to clean house or cook (and he did not marry me for those skills either), it was for LOVE.

Happiness does not depend on whether the furniture gets dusted or not. He wouldn't live with Cruela Devil very long, ha.;

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

Jack said...

Happiness does not depend on whether the furniture gets dusted or not.

Hear, Hear.