Posted by: Ticktock | April 5, 2008

Housework Proven to be Woman’s Burden

It’s official.  Women are statistically proven to slave away doing chores at the expense of men, or so says an article by the staff of LiveScience on Yahoo News.  Heading up the study is Frank Stafford, an economist at University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.  The research is part of a larger study on income dynamics that includes 65,000 people of multiple generations within 8,000 families since 1968.  I don’t doubt the data they’ve collected, but I do resent the conclusions that the clever writers at LiveScience draw to make the case that women are housework slaves.

The results of this longitudinal study are that women now do 25 hours of chores a week and men only do 14 hours.  However, women are doing half as much housework as they were in the sixties, and men have doubled their amount of housework.  Not to excuse the men represented in this study, but I think that is a significant gain considering we are only one or two generations seperated from Ward and June Cleaver. 

This is also not a perfectly designed study.  For instance, these families were asked to keep 24 hour time diaries for forty years.  First, wouldn’t they just start making shit up (or quit) after decades of tedious time diaries?  Second, wouldn’t the existence of time diaries make them more aware of the chores and cause them to alter their habits?  Third, what is considered housework? 

Stafford calls the results a “well known pattern” and goes on to explain that women are more likely to stay home while men work.  Which decade of the study is he talking about?  I’m staying home.  I admit that I’m a rare exception, but it bugs me when sweeping comments are made about gender roles.  He’s basically using the statistics he has collected to lump both genders into a science-based stereotype.  So now, articles like the one written by LiveScience can make statements like “Having a husband creates an extra seven hours of housework each week for women”.  Oh Really?  Seems like those bozos at LiveScience have it all figured out.  And I just love that we husbands “create” the housework because we are such sloppy lazy burdens.

They also contradict themselves quite a bit, setting up that women are burdened with so much housework, and then noting later that men are doing double what they did decades ago.  They also said that “Marriage is no longer a man’s path to less housework,” but they later go on to point out that single men do the most housework of all. 

Truth be told, most men have a long way to go with housework.  Myself included.  Do these studies really tell us anything we don’t know.  I just don’t think that counting the hours is helping anybody.  I also think that we need to be honest about the fact that the person who stays home OUGHT to do twice as many chores.  More women choose to stay home than men.  I can’t deny that.  Those numbers are changing I’m proud to say, but whether it be Dad or Mom who is home during the day, the chores should swing to that particular person.  It’s our career choice, not science.

Just don’t tell my wife.  🙂

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Responses

  1. “at the expense of men”? You know, if they’re doing more housework I don’t think I’m missing out on anything :}

    Ok. Are you annoyed with Stafford for doing the study in the first place, or with LiveScience for being disingenuous? Having questions about Stafford’s method isn’t the same as being entitled to reject his conclusions, is it?

    Me? I’m just bustin’ chops.

    Hoping you have a feed Google Reader can pick up.

  2. I don’t reject the data or conclusions of the study, but I do question how the results will be interpreted and analyzed by the mainstream media. I think the LiveScience article is an example of how the media can sensationalize a complex issue into soundbites.

    I’m pretty sure I have a feed. Thanks for the response.

  3. I see a strange thing when I look at the press release on the website of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. It looks to me like this is the source for most of the articles written on this study including the one at livescience. They have a graph of the data and it does not agree at all with the numbers they quote in the text of the article. In fact, the graph shows that the hours of housework for men goes up more than for women when they get married. Am I missing something?

  4. I see what you’re saying. Take a closer look, though, and you can see where they got the figure.

    The statistics from the 70s show a decrease in housework after marriage.

    Also, if you click through the graphs, you can see that men with no children also do less housework after they get married.

    Good catch. They didn’t really specify, and I think it’s an important distinction.


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