To my (imaginary) readers:
I’m afraid with finals rolling up, this post will probably be a bit shorter than I’d like. Although as you can see, I did reward all of you with a precious feminist cartoon about the division of household responsibilities. And also, a Karl Marx quote, whose relevance to the topic you may still be trying to comprehend. The quote is actually a little joke on the totally *uneven* division of household responsibility I’ve witnessed in my parents’ house whilst growing up as well as in countless others’ homes; apparently, while women have done relatively well catching up to men in the workplace, we are to assume men simply don’t have the *ability* to do their fair share of household work and childcare. In fact, I think I’ve actually heard that argument made by some social conservatives.
Bullsh*t. (At least, to that whole conservative argument I mentioned in the prologue). Even if men can’t exactly give birth or breastfeed, that does not make them useless as caretakers, nor is there an anatomical barrier that prevents men today from cooking or washing the dishes. Sadly though, I am not the only who grew up watching my full-time working mother do nearly all the household chores; as the American Time Use Survey reveals, women are still doing a bigger share of household chores, child rearing, and are also consequently getting less leisure time. To be fair, many women do work part-time, although one has to wonder how many do so because they feel social pressure to put the household work first. My issue is not necessarily with those families where women work less in exchange for spending more time taking care of the house, but situations where women do BOTH all housework AND work full-time. I’ve seen almost every couple in my family maintain this kind of arrangement, and I have to say that it breeds a great deal of resentment. Although schedules and talents do not always permit for a perfectly egalitarian division of responsibility, I think both men and women need to focus more on sharing work in the house and, in some cases, permitting the other person to infiltrate their “sphere” of work. Perhaps if there was not such a stigma on husbands staying at home to take care of children or a tendency to hold only the wife/mother accountable for domestic difficulties, woman today wouldn’t struggling under the weight of their new feminist role while men are left feeling weak and useless with only that ‘half a bag’ we see in the cartoon. We feminists may have said we wanted it all, but we didn’t mean it that way.