October 22, 2019

Want to Be a Male Ally? Clean the House

“Imagine if the dishes stopped getting done. Imagine if no one did the laundry, and it piled up, stained and mildewing in hampers and in piles on the floor. Imagine if no one fed the baby, or changed her, and imagine if no one made dinner. Imagine if no one scheduled grandma’s cardiologist appointment, and no one reminded her of the appointment after it had been scheduled, and if no one drove her to the appointment on the morning she was supposed to go. Imagine if no one vacuumed, or washed the windows, or picked up the various detritus that accumulates around the house.

Imagine that this goes on for a week, two weeks, two months. Imagine the domestic fights behind closed bedroom doors. Imagine the wailing infants. Imagine the hunger, and the injuries, and the infections. Imagine the paid work that happens at the shop or at the office that would be delayed, then phoned in, done badly and eventually not done at all.

Imagine, that is, if women stopped doing housework. Or rather, imagine if they treated housework the way that many men do: as optional.

More than fifty years after second-wave feminists began demanding gender equality in domestic life, there is an increasing amount of evidence that women still do much more housework, eldercare, and childcare than men. The stress and lack of leisure time that this causes not only diminishes women’s quality of life, but also can have negative health effects – including risk of heart disease, cancer, arthritis and diabetes. Feminists have been saying this for years; increasingly, empirical data backs them up.”

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