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Bennetts: Men shirk chores because women let them

April 19, 2008 | Daddy bloggers,Family,Leslie Bennetts,Work

Hey, guys, fathers, dads, daddybloggers… Leslie Bennetts writes about you this time in “Chores for two: Why men don’t pitch in.”

Ask your typical American dad what size shoes his children wear, and you will likely draw a blank stare. He has no idea. Guess who makes sure the kids’ toes aren’t poking through their sneakers?

OK, Typical American Dads: Do you know what size shoes your children wear?

(If you do, you’re one up on me. I have to dig around in the closet and look at the shoes to find out what size my children wear.)

Here’s another question: Are you a lot like children?

And while I recognize that gender stereotypes are risky, in my experience husbands are a lot like children. They will get away with whatever they can get away with. When you put your foot down and make it clear that you won’t take no for an answer, somehow the kids’ rooms get cleaned, the groceries bought, the laundry folded. It really does work, I promise.

(My husband already has a mother.)

In case you haven’t seen me cite this quote enough already, here it is. Again.

So why aren’t women demanding something closer to parity? While many are resigned to seething in silence, the stakes are far higher than they seem to realize. When wives permit their husbands to shirk a fair share of the homemaking and parenting, not only do they themselves suffer, but chances are good that they’re also sentencing their children to a similar fate. When you have kids, everything you do teaches them how to live their own lives when they grow up. Unfortunately, all too many women are still teaching their children that “woman is the nigger of the world,” as John Lennon and Yoko Ono put it so memorably in a song lyric years ago. And what too many fathers teach their sons and daughters is that men can get away with dumping the scut work on their wives, and that women will grit their teeth and put up with it.

Posted by Becky @ 2:34 pm  

13 Responses to “Bennetts: Men shirk chores because women let them”

  1. Thea Says:

    Oh. My. Goodness. While I’m sitting here, grinding my teeth over those quotes, my husband is in the kitchen washing dishes. And not just any dishes either: he’s washing gnarly tupperware that’s been lurking in the back of the fridge for a month. I didn’t have to “put my foot down” or anything.

  2. Thea Says:

    Okay, after reading the article myself, I must add to my comment. Here’s a quote I found particularly juicy:

    “Yes, dear readers, it’s true: Maintaining some semblance of parity in your marriage requires you to deploy the same kinds of nasty tactics you swore you would never stoop to as a parent but nonetheless found yourself using the minute you actually had a kid. Bribery and punishment work; so do yelling and complaining. Threats are also effective, as long as everyone knows you mean business. With husbands, tender blandishments and nooky are particularly useful, as is the withholding of the aforementioned.”

    …because manipulation is beneficial to the entire family, right? And portraying your own husband as a slob who needs you to constantly “hold his feet to the fire” in an article written for wide circulation on the web does wonders for you marriage, right?

    Like I said, I’m grinding my teeth here. How infuriating.

  3. Keith Says:

    Wow. Really. Wow. Who is this that you are quoting and why isn’t she locked up in the loony bin yet? I hope she hasn’t reproduced.

  4. MammaLoves Says:

    My husband does most of the work around our house. Rather than calling myself lazy, I like to think I’m teaching my boys how to be self-sufficient. ;)

  5. Lawyer Mama Says:

    Wowser. Like Amie, my hubby does most of the work around the house. He has no idea what size shoes they wear but he knows what their favorite foods are and which one must have the orange squid toy in the bath.

    But I guess we can always expect this crap from Bennetts.

  6. TSM Says:


    While I won’t agree with the author that commando tactics are the best option here (and that we should spend our time scheming to get our men to work, because, let’s face it…in the time it takes for me to scheme, I could have done it already), I do think that there are some marriages where the woman must be more “insistent” on the husbands participation. Mine stands as a great example of this. He’s wonderful. I love him to death. However, getting him to contribute usually involves asking nicely, then insisting, then watching him play the martyr, then a “conversation” about the relatinship, then his renewed assurance that he will try harder and that I (Tah DAHHHHH) was right.

    So the “I don’t know what’s wrong with them, my husband is just fine” doesn’t really settle well with me.

    But hey, more power to ya!

  7. todd Says:

    1) My six year old son wears a size 2 shoe. My 13 month old wears really really small shoes with soft leather soles.
    2) Yes, if she throws a tantrum, I work harder. But I’m already doing a lot. So I work harder as, like, protection against an insane wife.
    3) My son wants to be a chef because he sees his dad cooking all the time. And I do so many of the chores that I feel it’s taking away from time with my kids.

  8. erin Says:

    I don’t have a husband, but I have a male life partner, and he does do chores around the house.
    I think we have a fair division of labour, and I don’t have to pout or shout or anything else. Although, I will admit that occasionally it takes more than one gentle nudge to get him off the sofa or away from his desk to do me a favour. Under normal circumstances, he takes care of the trash and sweeping and vacuuming. I make dinners and do the dishes – he dries and puts away. We take turns with cleaning the bathroom and making the bed.

    etsy ©: jewellerybyerin.etsy.com
    blog: jewellerybyerin.blogspot.com

  9. JayMonster Says:

    I’m not going to point out what crap this article is, because it seems obvious. But there are some things, that do sometimes lead to this sort of “thinking.”

    While I do know the size of my daughter’s shoes (13 thank you very much), it is not without me constantly asking that I know this. Why? Because for some time now my wife has decided that this is her job, and my input or assistance on things such as this is not only “not needed” but actively discouraged. I do not get involved or take my daughter to dance class, or swimming class, etc. Again, not because I don’t want to, but I am actively prevented from this because it is how she wants it. There are certain things that she has just decided are her tasks, and that is it. To an outsider or a leap jumper like Bennetts, well then it may appear to her that I am not holding up “my end” of things, because she picked out certain items that I am supposed to share in and these are her “tests.”

    The simple fact of the matter is, if you are unhappy (as Bennetts clearly seems to be), you can always fine “inequities” I would sure love to read a rebuttal from Jeremy. It would be fun to read about the things that “don’t count” and the things that Ms. Martyr overlooked because she was too steamed that he had another cup of coffee on a Saturday morning, and she apparently has a limit on how long you can spend before you start the day.

    I feel sorry for her. It really must hurt. She is straining from trying to take everybody else’s arm to pat her on the back. She wants to take a bow for being so “selfless.”

  10. Jo MacD Says:

    Not sure what rarified bastions of equality you all hail from, but in counseling work I’ve spoken to plenty of women who’d agree wholeheartedly with that article. Women who exhaust themselves looking after kids and house while their partner watches TV, plays computer games or slips away for a round of golf. Women who find themselves in that nagging ‘mother’ role to get some help, and then can’t find their way back to romance again.

    Maybe it’s a socio-economic difference? Maybe an education level difference? Maybe we’re the kind of people who hang out on blogs, and they’re the kinds of people who don’t? I don’t know. But it definitely rings true from my experience (except the advice to use mothering tactics – that stuff never works!)

  11. Susan Says:

    I guess there must be households like those she describes. But, nothing would get my husband to stop washing the dishes faster than if I tried to mother him – and treat him like a child. Now that I think about it, nothing would get my kids to stop emptying the dishwasher and feeding the dogs faster than if I used conventional ‘mothering tactics’ and treated them like little kids.

  12. Trula Says:

    I agree with Jo, this is a big problem in most hetero relationships. When a man and woman live together,especially if they are married, she usually ends up doing the bulk of childcare and bulk of housework. You women who never went through this give the rest of us hope. I mean I always knew such men existed (there have been sightings!)just never have actually met one. Anyway, demanding and putting my foot down did not work with my husband. Here’s what did:

  13. Weekly Post Round Up (Or, writers we’d like to join for a playdate) « MOMocrats Legacy Posts: 2007-2011 Says:

    […] On gender politics, Deep Muck Big Rake writes Bennetts: Men Shirk Chores Because Women Let Them […]

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