Feminist Friday #10


Hello again! Here I am, with your feminist headlines of the week. Also, to my dear Ohio/American friends, I’m sorry about your heat wave, although I’d love to have just a little bit of that heat over here (it’s currently barely 60F over here). I understand your discomfort though. But I digress. On to the issues!

-A new report from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics states that even though 60% of women are currently the primary or co-breadwinner in their respective households, they are still doing the lion’s (lioness’s?….har har) share of the housework. From the report On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework–such as cleaning or doing laundry–compared with 48 percent of women. Forty percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 66 percent of women.”  The article links to the actual report, if you care to read it. I think stuff like this is so interesting and still such an important part of the dialogue around equality-topics like household care often get swept under the rug (damn, I am on a roll here with the topical puns!). Personally speaking, in my household we try to divide everything equally-whoever cooks dinner doesn’t have to do the post-dinner dishes, we take turns doing laundry, Jon vacuums and I dust, etc. Basically the only thing that’s gendered is that he has to get the cereal from the top shelf because I can’t reach it and he’s a giant man, and I don’t know if that even counts. And I cannot imagine marrying a man who would expect me to work all day and also be 100% in charge of cleaning our house. What kind of shit is that? Of course the conversation changes when only one partner works and the other stays home all day. Then-get to cleaning, yo. http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/06/25/506017/women-still-doing-housework-and-working/

-I usually avoid “The Good Men Project” because that shit is far too earnest for me-also, I’m not a man. But I had to read their article titled “Why Being a Good Man is a Feminist Issue”. News flash: it really is! This bit sums it up for me:  feminism began as a movement to liberate women from their stupid, limiting gender roles, but…….there’s no separating women’s horrible gender roles from men’s horrible gender roles. Every dumb cliché about how women are overemotional carries with it the connotation that men can’t have or express emotions. Every joke about men being lazy slobs implies that women are destined to do all the cleaning. The idea that women are helpless objects to be protected from everything is tied right in with the idea that men are disposable cannon fodder, whether in combat or civilian life. Men’s issues and women’s issues simply are not two separate problems, and the illusion that they are is just another outdated notion we need to outgrow.  Word. Sadly, it seems that a lot of fellas aren’t responding well in the comments to the piece. Anyway. Read more here http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/why-being-a-good-man-is-not-a-feminist-issue/

-Researchers at the University of Delaware recently conducted a study regarding NBC’s commentary at past Olympic games, and the conclusion was that they have some serious issues over there, sexism-wise. Annnnd racism-wise. In sum, according to the researcher in charge of the study, “It’s all about luck with the females. It’s all about ability with the males.” When discussing Olympians? Why?? The researchers looked at clips from the tv network’s coverage and categorized them according to 17 different criteria, coming to the conclusion that not only does NBC’s Olympics commentary unfairly compare men and women athletes, it also gives more coverage to U.S. athletes and includes racist remarks. Those remarks include references to white athletes being committed and composed, while black athletes have physical strength and Asian athletes are intelligent. More about the study here http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2012/jun/Olympic-commentary-061812.html

-80% of American 10 year old girls have been on a diet, and the number one “magic wish” for girls aged 11-17 is to be thinner. That’s all. I’m going to go cry now. http://www.upworthy.com/80-of-ten-year-olds-have-been-on-a-diet-yes-you-read-that-correctly?c=mrp1

-An opinion writer from the Washington Post responded to the Atlantic cover story “Why Women Can’t Have it All” (which I linked to last week). I love the response, which centered around the idea that a minuscule percentage of women around the world/in the States even have the option to ever “have it all” and that the argument that they can or can’t is a bit elitist in nature. In reality, most women are just trying to get by, facing daily obstacles while trying to keep their families afloat. High-powered jobs and loads of money and paid sick leave are not things that the average American woman is dealing with-so why are we talking about whether we can have it all? Why aren’t we demanding a living wage for women (and men) who are trying to care for their families? Maybe because other issues are far more provocative? That’s just my cynicism talking.


That’s all for me today. Happy Friday!

7 thoughts on “Feminist Friday #10”

  1. “On the days that they worked, employed men worked 47 minutes more than employed women. This difference partly reflects women’s greater likelihood of working part time. However, even among full-time workers (those usually working 35 hours or more per week), men worked longer than women–8.3 hours compared with 7.8 hours. (See table 4.)

    –On an average day, 83 percent of women and 65 percent of men spent some time doing household activities such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial and other household management. For a definition of average day, see the Technical Note.) (See table 1.)

    On the days that they did household activities, women spent an average of 2.6 hours on such activities, while men spent 2.1 hours. (See table 1.)”

    So basically men and women do the same amount of work, but men do .5more hours at employment, and women do .5 hours more on housework. Seems to me men just do their housework in less days? Women did more food prep or cleanup, men did more lawn and garden care. It seems the genders are fairly equal in effort put in, so the second shift theory seems to be debunked?

  2. But how do you explain the part that says women do 48% of women do housework on an average day, compared to men’s mere 19%? Or that women do 66% of food prep and cleanup, compared with 40% of men? Yes, men do slightly more garden/lawn care (26% vs 13%) but that’s essentially the only aspect of home life in which they do more. That right there implies that the second shift theory is very far from being “debunked”, as you claim. Also, from these statistics there’s no real way to tell what is “their” (men’s) share of the housework, which is problematic. I think it’s unfair to claim that men are more efficient when there isn’t data to back that up.

  3. Ashley, because the men are working extra time in the workplace, it balances out. If I worked .5hours more in the office, and my partner worked .5hours less than me but did .5hours more than me in housework then I see no issue with this, there is an equal input of work. Would it be better for women to do .5hours more or men do .5hours less work in the at their job/both do same work in home and outside of home? Possibly.

    The second shift is the expectation that women do a 9-5/full time job and then are expected to do the majority of housework when they get home, but these stats seem to suggest that women do SLIGHTLY more housework and men do slightly more work at the office (time wise). I consider that to debunk the theory.

    The stats are in here http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm, not sure what you mean there is no way to tell what their share of housework is? http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.t01.htm this table breaks down what they spend their time on, showing women do about half n hour more per day of housework, men work half n hour more at the office (well their place of employment).

    The genders seem to put a similar or the same amount of hours into working + housework, with a half hour difference per day, men favoring paid employment, women favoring housework. I’m not claiming men are more efficient, sorry if it sounded that way, I meant it to basically say that if men do that extra bit at the office then their housework will be less to equal it out. The way the second shift is often talked about it’s as if women do the same amount of work as men in their jobs, and then have to do more work at home, but these stats are showing both are equal in hours worked paid or unpaid. As for the 48% comparison to 19%, I’m going to guess the men are doing their housework on weekend but for a longer period, whereas women are doing shorter period housework more frequently. If the women are doing food prep and it adds up to lets say 7 hours a week for easy debate purposes and men do 1 day a week but 7 hours worth in 2 days a week then wouldn’t that make the average day more likely to have a female doing housework? That is my understanding of that number, I could be wrong but I’m guessing that women are doing smaller bouts of housework more frequently.

    A typical situation might be that the cooking over the week is 5 hours worth, done every day and he does a lil bit, but on the weekend the lawn has to be mowed, paths sweeped, pruning, etc, so most of his weeks housework is done on sat or sunday. In my family I saw my mother do more of the inside housework more frequently, the cooking was shared but mum did tidying, etc all days but short period, whilst on the weekend dad would do a solid block of work in the house but mostly the garden whilst mum was watching tv and having a break. I’d say a fairly equal input to total hours worked when they both worked.

    Now we could say men have to pull their weight more with doing housework, but that also means women need to pull their weight more with working longer in their workplace.

  4. Thanks for your input Archy, although I think we’ll have to agree to disagree with the debunking of the second shift theory! I find it problematic to assume that men are “favoring” paid employment while women “favor” housework, without looking at the underlying reasons that are perhaps making that not a choice, but something that both are forced into. For example, you say that women need to “pull their weight by working longer in their workplace”, but how would you go about that? I don’t know about you, but if I stay at my place of worker longer than my shifts in a week, I’m not being paid for that. Salaried or wage worker-you’re not getting paid more just for staying longer. You’re getting paid either a specific salary that doesn’t change, no matter how many hours you put in, or you’re being paid by the hour, which doesn’t mean “if i stay late my boss will be forced to pay me more!”. Also, the study talks about average days-so it doesn’t matter, weekday or not, how many hours one is putting in for housework-so your example of men doing more on the weekend but women doing smaller bits more frequently during the week doesn’t really match the statistics, as far as I can see. Men are doing less, any way you look at it. Of course things are far more equal than they ever use to be in past decades, but it’s worth examining studies like this more deeply.

  5. Seems to be somewhere in the middle to me – women are still doing more work at home than men, but less than previously. Baby steps!

  6. Thanks for the discussion. I am quite interested in how the genders perform work. I try to understand why there is a disparity in the numbers, I’ve often seen arguments of women doing as many hours as men working and then having to do more at home but I’m glad I’m not seeing that here.

    By favoring I meant the stats were showing men were IN that role more, not that they actually favored working more. A mixup in communication, my apologies. I think the best way forward is to encourage both genders to enjoy being parents when they are parents, to share the workload of unpaid and paid work more equally or at least to work out within their family who wants to do which.

    We’d need to find out why the men are staying longer at their jobs, possibly there is social conditioning pushing men to work more outside of the home, just as there is conditioning to push women to work more inside the home, balancing this out better would be a good thing. I am from Australia and staying behind to work longer will get you overtime in wage jobs, salaried jobs…well I’m hoping there is protections in the law so they aren’t forced to work long hours for no extra benefit. But unpaid overtime is actually expected here for some reason, it’s silly and one article I read on it suggested over 1billion dollars worth of unpaid overtime was done anually.

    I see that the hours for working and word related activities are 4.23hours for men, 2.95hours for women, Household activities is 1.37 hours for men, 2.16 hours for women both are listed as average hours per day. Average percent engaged in the activity per day overall for household activities is 65% for men, 82.5% for women. For those 2 it seems men are doing 5.6 average hours per day, women are doing 5.11 average hours per day of work, work related activities, household activities. Again, seems to balance itself out in hours of any work performed, but with a different in who works what. It also shows 50.4 % of men and 39.2% of women engaged in work+work related activities per day, which is an average day in the year.

    In the technical note you will find this
    ” Many activities typically are not done on a daily basis, and some activities only are done by a subset of the population. For example, only 42 percent of all persons age 15 years and over worked on an average day in 2011 because some were not employed and those who were employed did not work every day. (See table 1.)”
    This is why I thought men were doing less days of housework, but when they do it it’s in a large block for a day or 2. From what I see women are spreading the hours over the week, men are concentrating them on 1 or 2 days. So on the surface it looks like men aren’t doing as much housework, but they actually are, just not as many days as women do it. To me that looks to be the only way to make the numbers work, but hell I could be wrong. This does raise concern that men aren’t doing enough with the regular daily housework, and women aren’t doing enough with the housework that is weekend longer hour segment?

    I wouldn’t mind seeing a Monday Tuesday Wednesday etc style report, it’s hard to determine who does what and for how long on each day as I’m certain it varies on weekends, would explain if my theory is right too that women do housework more often, men do it in larger but less frequent chunks.

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