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Superwomen

A few weeks ago I went out for lunch with two of my female friends, one of whom had a baby a few months ago. She was talking about how she does everything round the house as well as looking after the baby pretty much 24/7. When I interjected with ‘But what does Kevin do?’, they both chimed in with ‘Works!’.

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Now both these girls work extremely hard themselves (one of them pre-baby was working up to 60 hours a week and we’re talking on your feet, not a sit down job), and manage to run a household each and have pretty considerable social lives. Yet it’s enough for the guys to just work 37-40 hours a week and that’s it? No responsibilities, just sitting around the house playing computer games?

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I grew up in a household where it was pretty much the norm. My dad worked and my mum had a part time job teaching but mostly looked after the house. It was partly a cultural thing, although that’s no excuse. On the other hand, my dad works a hell of a lot of hours and he was happy to cook and fix things round the house, so it’s not like he didn’t do anything.

In my house, it’s pretty different. People think it’s ‘weird’ that I go out to work and Joe stays at home most of the day and works. He earns a lot less than me (which people also think is weird, again with the ‘incompetent women’ theme), but he also gets to work the hours his body clock is suited to and have more than a half hour lunch break. We split the housework equally, Joe does the cooking and I do the washing up. We generally split the food shopping as well.

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You know I’m busy. A typical working week for me is 60+ hours, often 80 or more. I couldn’t cope if Joe didn’t do stuff around the house. There is no way on earth Joe would get away with not doing his share (notice I say ‘doing his share’, not ‘helping out’ as if he were doing me a favour) even if the situation was reversed. We both believe that the people living in the house are responsible for taking care of the house. There are no real defined roles, but we try to run the house like a business so we never run out of anything and all the necessary tasks are completed.

If you’ve read any of my blog posts before, you’ll know that we love to eat out. Unless we have a student waiter/waitress, the server will look at Joe every time and ask how he’s paying. Even if I have my purse out or my card in front of me and I make eye contact, they will still put the card machine next to Joe and hand him the receipt. I do find it quite rude that they don’t ask who the card belongs to, and I also find the raised eyebrows and surprised looks uncomfortable. What’s even weirder is that the waitresses act in exactly the same way, even though they’re earning money themselves and will surely take their own partner out to eat at some point. Or perhaps it’s just because men like to feel in control and decide they have to pay in restaurants, I don’t know. Some women say it’s because they ‘like their men to behave like real men’ (whatever that means), but personally I’d much prefer to be independent and be in a relationship with someone who can be nice to me without having to throw money around to prove a point.

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I’m rambling. But I do feel that a lot of women aren’t given anywhere near enough credit. A lot of the time women don’t even realise how much they do, and I believe that’s partly because it’s not valued by society. A man is praised if he washes the dishes, or changes a nappy, and it should be the norm. Joint responsibility, even if the roles are different in themselves, should be an established standard in our culture. Dinner doesn’t cook itself.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Christa

    I know a lot of women who need so much more credit then they are given. I grew up with my mom and her husband both working – up until her accident in 1994. Since then he’s the one who has been working and she does housework – but she still finds way to bring extra money in, mostly by sewing.

    After this part year with my niece living in the same house – parents who spend a great deal with their children need major points. I’m sad to say that doesn’t happen around here. My brother & his wife both use the “work” excuse way too much. Not to mention the other night at 8pm she told my niece “You’re going to bed because I want to watch TV.” Ugh. It’s just sad to know there are parents who work a lot of hours but come home to work extra hours just to spend time with their child(ren).

    02/06/2012 at 2:47 am
  • Reply Stephanie

    I think that our society is currently in a transition period. Back when our grandparents our kids, women just couldn’t work. The guy brought home all the money, and the women stayed home and just took care of the house. And since then, some women have started working and some men have started taking care of the home. The household I grew up in was very traditional. If my boyfriend and I were to have our own household, it would be very evenly split, with both of us having responsibility in the home and at work. And right now, men on average still earn a lot more than women. For people working at restaurants, it’s the norm for men to pay, so they probably instinctively bring the check to the man. I wouldn’t blame the people too much – their actions are symptoms of an older era that is taking a while to fade away.

    Actually, I have faith in (some parts of) society to start recognizing women for their efforts. The fact that you and your boyfriend are recognizing how much women are doing is a sign that society is beginning to change. Even if your friends are all working harder than they should, I’m happy for you, because it looks like your life is in good shape right now!

    02/06/2012 at 4:11 am
  • Reply Britt

    I completely agree with you. It’s kind of the same with Amaury and me: he’s still a student and I’m working, so I pay for basically everything. He earns a small wage by by coaching the junior cyclists, but it’s nowhere near enough to pay for a month’s worth of food shopping, for instance. I know one day (probably in about a year) he will have finished and I will start my master’s, so the roles will be reversed. But in the meantime it’s true that it’s a strange situation, but I don’t find that people think it’s strange here in France (or maybe they’re just very good at hiding their true opinion). But I think that in the Netherlands, my home country, people would have found it strange, as in England. This should definitely change – but unless all women start thinking like us, I don’t think it ever completely will!

    02/06/2012 at 7:32 am
  • Reply Justin

    I think it’s cool that you’re the “breadwinner” of the family. Anyone that gives you problems for that needs to shut the hell up. XD Being gay, when I go out to restaurants with my boyfriend, the waiter always looks stumped when they have to give the receipt. It’s hilarious to see who they think is the “man.”

    07/06/2012 at 3:24 am
  • Reply Amy

    I agree with you. I don’t understand why people always assume that men pay for everything. My mum does it all the time, she always asks me if my boyfriend pays for the meals, and then says he should be doing because he’s the male. Which usually results in me arguing with her about how sexist that is. It really annoys me that people consider males to be bad if they don;t pay for everything. As nice as it is for them to do so, it’s ridiculous and unfair if they do it all the time. I can’t believe they don’t acknowledge you when it comes to paying. Ridiculous!

    In my family my Dad works and my mum does the housework. He doesn’t really do it (unless my mum is ill), which I haven’t noticed until now. I think I’d want to be the one working if I was in that situation haha, but I do think verything should be done fairly.
    xx

    07/06/2012 at 11:35 am
  • Reply Krystal

    Ah, aren’t societal gender roles just insane or what??

    In my family, the boys are pretty lazy. They’ll help once in awhile or one does more than the other and my parents always expected me and my sisters to be the one who should help cook, clean, etc. Although I don’t mind cleaning and doing house duty or whatever, it shouldn’t be something placed JUST for women. Some men out there needs to seriously learn how to do their fair share of work too!

    I honestly believe men get off too easily, especially husbands who work and don’t do anything to help their wives besides bringing home the bacon. This is so not the 1960s anymore. Working does not equal the amount of work that women has to do within their home and with their babies and/or kids. Now, if some women are fine with that, then that’s on them and I’ll end it there.

    But seriously, the whole waiter/waitress thing is messed up. Them assuming every time that the man is going to pay is ridiculous!

    I’ll end this comment by saying that I applaud you for (unintentionally) reversing gender roles within your relationship and that Joe does his fair share of work around the household. People need to stop thinking it’s “weird” that you earn more than Joe and that he stays home most of the day. This actually needs to STOP being weird and START becoming a norm in society! This just goes to show how ingrained societal gender roles are in people’s head.

    08/06/2012 at 9:44 am
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