Men Who Do Housework, and Men Who Don’t

If you’ve been following FHSS‘s blog for long, you’ve seen our posts about sociology professor Dr. Renata Forste and her research on the gendered division of housework. She gave the 2016 Cutler Lecture on this subject, her area of expertise. More and more women are joining the workforce (accounting for 46.8% of the U.S. labor force), which means that families are evolving to share responsibilities between parents. During her Cutler Lecture, Dr. Forste cited Arlie Hochschild’s book The Second Shift, which suggests that men who do housework…

  • have a strong male identity.
  • have a more holistic, nuanced notion of their role as fathers.
  • have wives who facilitate their involvement in household chores.
  • don’t work late hours at the office.
  • have learned not to view housework as women’s work.
  • have happier family lives.

And the media is catching up too. Marketers are beginning to target men in advertisements for cleaning products, Dr. Forste said, and today’s men “have a more elaborate notion of fathering than previous generations.”


Dr. Forste’s full lecture is available here.

This post is thirtieth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Housework and Family Satisfaction: A Short Video

One may be surprised to learn that over half of married couples cite shared housework as paramount to a successful marriage. They place it above income, children, religious beliefs, and concordance in political beliefs.  Sociology professor Dr. Renata Forste has researched the stalled revolution of gendered division housework and how our modern culture devalues that work. At the 2017 Cutler Lecture, she further illuminated this pressing issue.

She found that in terms of housework, both women and men were more likely to do the chores stereotypically associated with their gender; women did laundry, cleaning, and cooking while men took out the trash, mowed the lawn, and acted as the handyman. She further found that “women…report doing more than their fair share of housework whereas men report doing less than their fair share.” It is clear that both genders understand that the imbalance of housework is unfair.

“If both the partnership do laundry, buy groceries, and take care of sick family members the workload is reported as fair. Especially if both partners share in cleaning the house, respondents were almost three times more likely to perceive the distribution of household work as fair. So sharing housework is predictive of doing one’s fair share, which is predictive of family satisfaction,” said Dr. Forste.

This post is twenty-fifth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Why do Women do Most of the Housework?

We’ve mentioned recently what sociology professor Renata Forste’s research says about the stalled revolution of the gendered division of housework, and about how we as a society tend to devalue such work. Her comments at a 2017 Cutler Lecture provide further illumination as to why women still do the lion’s share of housework,”

  • Relative resources: “According to this perspective, the more resources or power a person has in relation to his or her spouse,” said Forste, “the easier it should be to bargain one’s way out of routine housework.” Thus, if a man makes more money than his wife, the implicit (or explicit) agreement is that he should not have to do as much housework. However, research shows that, even when women are equal to men in terms of what they bring in, they do more housework.
  • Time availability: Since time is a resource, the amount of time spouses or partners work outside the home would seem to have a direct impact on their share of housework. It doesn’t have as much as an effect as one would think, though.
  • Awareness: Men are not always aware when it is necessary to do housework.

Forste encourages men and women to “view [housework as] regular maintenance, rather than women’s work, [which will] change how we share the load and how we think about it.”

To view the full lecture, click here

This post is twenty-fourth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Why do we Devalue Housework?

We mentioned last week the tendency cited by sociology professor Renata Forste that Americans tend to have to devalue housework- it’s women’s work and therefore not difficult. What effect has assumption had? She cited a quote from Hanover Sociology professor Robin Ryle: “One of the most important end results of the doctrine of separate spheres was the creation of not just a difference in how we think about what men and women do but also a hierarchy in how those tasks are valued.”

 


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To view the full lecture, click here.

This post is twenty-second in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.