23 November 2022

It's 2022, are men really still dusting off those tired excuses?

| Zoya Patel
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Man and daughter wiping tables

Are there men who still think they don’t have to do housework? Photo: Istock.

A friend of mine recently told me she is pregnant. We were chatting about her home life, and how great her husband is with fixing things like her car and household furniture. “He sounds great,” I said. “Yeah,” she agreed. “Except he won’t do any housework.”

I was confused. “What do you mean won’t?”

She shrugged. “He just refuses. I have to do everything, even his laundry.”

Right … so there isn’t anything preventing the man from shouldering his share of the housework, he just won’t do it.

Now, before you rush to point out that he does other things, like fixing the car, I’m going to stop you right there and clarify something. Housework is not a choice. It is a responsibility and a normal part of living life as an adult. And when I say housework, I mean the day-to-day cleaning, cooking, gardening, basic domestic labour that is necessary to have reasonable living conditions.

Having a partner who is handy with cars, or good at fixing things is great (and it should be noted that these skills aren’t gendered either) – but one-off tasks like that aren’t the equivalent of daily domestic labour, and the latter should be the equal responsibility of both partners.

And yet, time and again, I see my friends in heterosexual relationships mentioning how their male partners just “won’t” do the cleaning or the cooking. One friend solved this problem by hiring a cleaner, but she still continued to do all the cooking because her husband simply wouldn’t.

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Another friend has simply made peace with it, and assures me that he “makes up for it”, which I can only assume is a subjective measure of equality.

I just don’t get how men in 2022 can still think it’s reasonable to just not do the things they don’t want to do in a house – but still expect the benefit of those chores being done.

Presumably these guys enjoy having a clean home, fresh laundry, meals to eat, but they don’t see an issue with not contributing to those tasks.

I know, I know – #NotAllMen. I actually know that firsthand, because my partner and I are completely equal in our contributions to the home. We both cook, clean and take care of the pets. We both equally manage our finances and life admin. We both do our share of boring things we don’t want to do, because neither of us would expect the other to do it alone.

I’ve heard every excuse under the sun for the inequality that many of my female friends have learned to live with.

“He takes care of our finances, though.” Well, for a start, I think it’s really important for both members of a couple to have oversight and understanding of their financial status but, again, a few hours on a computer every week versus hours and hours every day cooking and cleaning is not equal.

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“He does everything outside and I do everything inside.” Just take a step back for a second and tally up the number of tasks and the effort required for each of those domains. Unless you live on a property with significant upkeep, that doesn’t seem equal to me.

Maybe the only one I feel is valid, in so far as both parties aren’t being reasonable, is when my friends say “he just can’t clean to my standards”. If that’s the case, you’ve created a rod for your own back to a degree. Yes, standards are important, but if the cleaning is getting done and is hygienically up to scratch, it’s not fair to quibble over minor details.

If you’re very particular, then maybe you should do it yourself – but even so, there should be a give and take occurring somewhere else to make up for it.

The thing that confuses me the most is where these guys are hiding. All the men I’m close to who are of my generation have no qualms about doing housework. They don’t even consider that there is the option not to do it. My brother, brothers-in-law, partner, friends – they all know how to cook and clean, and they don’t expect a cookie afterwards as a reward for their good behaviour.

So where are these guys who are happily bowing out of their responsibilities? They’re clearly out there somewhere, because they keep cropping up in these anecdotes.

Assuming both parties are physically able to undertake domestic duties, can there ever be any genuine justification for not shouldering your share of the housework?

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“can there ever be any genuine justification for not shouldering your share of the housework?”
Yes, I have ADHD and just straight up forget sometimes. My partner and I have a really easy fix… she reminds me and I get right on it. It’s almost like communication in a relationship is important or something!

Partnerships involve equality, else they’re not partnerships but competitive relationships that will lead to battles at some point. Splitting tasks for efficiency and effectiveness is part of all teamwork, with the splitting needing to be agreed to avoid conflict.

Who does what is something that needs to be agreed as fair, whether it is gender congruent or not. Not all women are good homemakers, nor are all men good at mechanical things.

It’s supposed to be a team where each pulls their own weight in terms of time and effort to achieve an outcome on which both agree. Often we all have to learn new skills to enable that outcome and we all need to do things that do not come naturally. We work at it, to ensure a great relationship.

This might ruffle some feathers however men are biologically wired to take that rock, throw it at some prey and drag it back to the cave. We are protectors and hunter-gathers. We are not naturally wired to be homemakers.
Over thousands of years, there has been some blurring of those lines, but largely I’d still argue that they are true.
We clean and tidy, but we might not do it as well as our primeval female mates would like. To many of us, it probably doesn’t matter so much whether the dishes are done tonight or tomorrow morning, or whether the vacuuming is done a few days late. Whereas, mowing the lawn or fixing that hole in the roof, are priorities because they are protecting the cave. 🙂

So that’s the story you make up to explain why you don’t want to do housework!

Maya123,
Deep down, I think you know that what I’m saying is true.
“Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”.
Male and female brains are wired differently. It doesn’t mean that each are incapable of crossing over into the others territory, it’s just not as natural.
We see it every day. Just look at occupations. Nurses typically are female, and bus and truck drivers are male. It’s not that the other gender can’t do the job, it’s just that most aren’t naturally attracted to those professions.
It’s no different in the home. Some are nurturers and others less so.

Your claims have no basis in current science. This wiring you claim is not innate, but learned. No-one is wired for homemaking or housework at birth. Brains are not gendered at birth despite claims of those who’ve not kept up to date to learn the facts. The wiring in our brains is socially conditioned and plastic, being moulded by our decisions and activities. You can be as good a homemaker as anyone else, if you choose to do that. Most people do not do it for fun but out of responsibility. To claim biological unfitness is an absolute cop out and an excuse that is not based in reality. It is a classic case of learned helplessness. Poor you!

Deep down! LOL, what a laugh and arrogant presumption.

I do a bit of travelling. Have travelled several months this year. I saw women driving road trains in the outback. In Melbourne recently and I saw several suburban rail trains with female drivers. Yes, more men still, but the numbers of women doing this are increasing. Most of the women I saw driving the trains were young, so a new generation. One driving a train under what looked like still supervision looked all of about 18 years, but she has chosen that occupation. More men are now going into nursing. There are a lot of male nurses now.
We don’t need your narrow minded views.

I’ve just spent a week on the roof with a silicone gun sealing water leaks. Now I have to crawl under the car to fix a leaking diff then spread 10 bags of manure in the garden.

I can’t wait to be interviewed by the gender equity police about sharing housework because I want to dob in my wife who runs a mile when there are mice to be removed.

I’m sure I’ve seen that couple in an ad for electric cars.

SigmaOctantis11:02 pm 24 Nov 22

More irrelevant and completely unwarranted sexist bullsh*t on the riotact. Not wonder Canberra is considered a joke.

totally agree. imagine the response if this type of article was directed at wives. the riotact should be ashamed of itself for allowing a clearly sexist article to be run. it’s not ok to attack blokes in the same way it’s not ok to attack ladies.

So very predictable OP-ED by Zoya. Of course you take one instance of “a man behaving badly” and paint the rest of the sex with the same broad stroke.

I realise this is an OP-ED but even for a such, it’s lazy, low quality, and whiny.

Is this actually meant to get your readers to think/have a discussion or an indirect way to shame your friends husband, if he even exists.

Who knows?

Capital Retro9:00 pm 24 Nov 22

How many men does it take to clean a filthy toilet?

None, that’s women’s work.

HiddenDragon7:45 pm 24 Nov 22

Just in time for the golden anniversary of that august journal, The Riotact ventures into the realms of “Cleo investigates!” – sadly, though, without the sort of promo from Ita that stirred Cold Chisel into song.

The follow up on the nagging question at the heart of this article (can real love exist without his and hers hospital corners?) really will be something to look forward to.

And as to your final question – what if the man is a bricklayer or concretor and the wife is a receptionist? What if the woman is a stay at home Mum? What if the man spends half his weekend on outside chores? What if …………..

During my 72 years on this earth I have NEVER seen a woman “fix” the family car (any family car). I have known only ONE woman who could “fix things” generally. To suggest that “these skills aren’t gendered” is nonsense, cute as it is to suggest such a thing for a feminist article. As Acton says (below comment) there are multitudinous jobs usually performed by the “man of the house” which don’t include housework, but rarely in this “debate” do we ever hear of these chores being mentioned.

That is your experience which is anecdotal. I have seen women fix cars, trucks and tractors. They also fix appliances and repair things around the house. Perhaps you’ve not seen this because your experience is more narrow. Skills are learned when people see the need to learn them.

My daughter fixes things that none of the men can fix, all the mechanical and electronic things, because those are her areas of interest. She is the one who puts together flat packed furniture. She also sews and crochets. She has learned the skills she needs, as we all do unless we have a learning disorder.

Her brother is equally capable with his hands but lacks her electronic skills, because that is not an area of his interest. He is much better at cleaning and housework than she is. Both are great cooks, as are both of their partners. We wait to see the skills of the children who are being taught to be open to exploring and learning all possible to enable self-sufficiency, just as was expected of them.

Decades ago I rented out rooms. At least a couple of the woman would work on their cars. LOL, yes strictly true that they weren’t fixing “family” cars. But they worked on their own cars. I can only speculate from your comments, that you have been very selective with who you socialise with, and you and women in your social group, are very ‘traditional’ in your gender roles. Or you have worn ‘blinkers’ to match your bias.

When was the last time a whinging female (let’s call her Ms Andry) mowed the lawn, fixed a broken roof tile, crawled under the house, sprayed the roof cavity for spiders, changed a leaking tap, washed the car, checked the oil and tyre pressure, unblocked the toilet, painted the fence, cleaned out the gutters, trimmed the hedges or did the tax returns. No, Ms Andry was too busy complaining to her weekly coffee and cake group about her personal trainer, her hairdresser, her cleaner, her nail polish and how lazy all men were.

I always mowed the lawn, got professionals in to replace the gutters, as most people, male or female would do, I cleaned the gutters, I crawled under the house, lived with many spiders or put them out (not arachnophobia), washed my car, of course checked oil and tyre pressure, who paints fences?, cut hedges and used to do my tax return. These days I give the last one to a tax agent. Gees, your experience of women must be limited.
I also did some basic carpentry in my bathroom, cleaned bricks for pavement, laid brick garden edges. Cleaned the house too.
I cut my own hair, and clip my own nails. And you? Go to the barber do you?

Capital Retro6:55 am 25 Nov 22

I am my wife’s personal trainer.

Every day there’s something about racism or sexism and people always making themselves out to be ‘victims’ or blaming someone else for their own life choices. The law in Australia treats everyone the same and men and women (of all races and backgrounds) are free to make their own life choices (however stupid those choices may be). There are no laws forcing someone to get married, forcing anyone to have children, forcing anyone to go out to work, or forcing anyone to stay at home and clean. Stop blaming others for your life.

wodenresident9:41 am 24 Nov 22

As a single father of a 10 year old, I am expected to:
– cook, clean, shop
– nurture and develop my Son
– look after my physical health
– social activities for my mental health
– compete in my career
– engage in further study

The expectation that I compete in my career still exists, despite the fact that I am now having to fullfill the roles of Mother and Father to my Son all by myself.

Due to hypergamy in dating, if I want a partner I must find time to improve my physical appearance. All the while being superman in workplace and home.

I am completely and utterly exhausted and understand why men kill themselves at greater numbers then women.

Um – seriously. How is this different for the many single supermums out there – in much greater numbers!

daveinhackett2:22 pm 24 Nov 22

Hang in there mate, you are doing a great job.

Mate, you are doing a great job. You are looking after your 10 year old son, working and doing the house life. Don’t give up. It will get easier.

Do we really have to continue seeing these tired old stories popping up every now and then? Surely there’s better journalists/opinion writers around.

There is some real ‘recently divorced dad’ energy in a lot of the comments here.

Zoya, this is a very one-sided stereotyped rant. Writing an article that pushes a social agenda, when the research is based on a bellyache from a friend isn’t what I call high-quality journalism.
Have you interviewed the husband? Do you know the time he spends doing the outside chores, do you know whether he works long hours and so on?

My wife does 90% of the domestic chores and with this declaration, I’m sure some are fuming and spitting their inequality chips. My wife chooses not to work in the paid workforce. I’m the person who brings home the bacon; sorry if the word “bacon” is also offensive. Our family income is very modest, we have one car, have never been overseas etc, but that’s our arrangement.

Every relationship is different.

A bit of a strawman argument there. If one person (whether that be the man or woman) stays home they should do the housework(if they are physically capable), but when both work, all, or most of the housework, shouldn’t be left up to the woman.

Strawman’s argument or not, the example I gave was what happens in our household.

Zoya’s article has been written based on a complaint from a girlfriend. When people have a whinge or bellyache about something, there is always some embellishment. Had she interviewed the husband, he may have acknowledged it as truth, but he may also have balanced the ledger with his contribution to the relationship.

Sure, in a generic sense I accept that women do more cleaning

“So where are these guys who are happily bowing out of their responsibilities? They’re clearly out there somewhere, because they keep cropping up in these anecdotes.”

Yes, they keep cropping up in anecdotes but not to anyone that actually looks at the data.

The data which shows that whilst women do complete more household and caring work, men complete more paid work, such that the overall amount of “work” completed by both is nearly identical.

And a large proportion of the overall difference in where effort goes is driven by caring for children.

So who exactly is worse off?

I suppose it depends on your definition of “work”.

If “journalists” and others stopped using click bait to drive agendas maybe the stereotypes would dry up?

Actually I think I’ve seen him in a Border Force uniform wearing he same gloves.

I’m loving the beard and the hipster glasses. Bet they’re listening to Rage Against the Machine.

William Newby7:06 am 24 Nov 22

Yet another divisive piece by Patel, more man hate and broad brush assumptions on all men.

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