The Immense Value of Taking More Control of Household Tasks

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Time for Men to “Lean In” At Home

Anne-Marie Slaughter (author of Why Women Still Can’t Have It All) at The Atlantic wrote this very interesting piece on The Immense Value of Giving Men More Control of Household Tasks, in which she notes that she and her husband have come to a very nice arrangement of household activities, and she expresses her appreciation of his differences. She may be better at multi-tasking, but he is better at focusing, and both can benefit their home and their kids. She captures part of the issue quite nicely in this quote:

According to [therapist Barbara] Kass, “So many women want to control their husbands’ parenting. ‘Oh, do you have the this? Did you do the that? Don’t forget that she needs this. And make sure she naps.’ Sexism is internalized.” If women assume that we can do anything men can do (backwards and in heels, a la Ginger Rogers versus Fred Astaire,) and that we are superior in the home, we will never actually value men enough for them to experience the rewards of being fully equally partners. As my teenage sons frequently remind me, sexism cuts both ways.

First, it’s nice to be appreciated, in general, and second, for our differences, and I applaud that Dr. Slaughter has identified female sexism and noted how it hurts both women and men. And…I think it’s only part of the solution. Yes, women will be happier if they “let” Dad be Dad in his own way, instead of wishing he could just be a stronger and hairier version of Mom, BUT, ultimately men need to step up and assert their commitment to parenting and housekeeping our own way. Be Dad in your own way, whether Mom “lets” you or not. As long as women are “giving” us something (or worse yet, not giving), then we don’t have any respect or power, and both men and women lose out. When my daughter was born, I made a commitment to being a good dad, and it wasn’t dependent on my wife’s approval or permission, I made that choice. I cook, and I changed diapers, and I do all sorts of things, often in very different ways than my wife. For example, she can make an amazing gourmet meal, but it takes two hours, minimum. I can have a healthy dinner on the table in 15 minutes, but it’s not gourmet, and never will be, and I’m OK with that.

 

Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons

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About Dave Kaiser

David Kaiser, PhD, ACC is an Executive Coach and Relationship Coach. His areas of expertise include Time Management and Productivity, Managing Conflict, Leadership, Innovation and Creativity, Living a Passionate and Spiritual Life, and Personal Branding and Marketing. His clients are typically either executives at small consulting firms, or female executives who are tired of being "men" at work and want to recast their career to better match their lives. You can learn more about him at www.DarkMatterConsulting.com or follow him at @DarkMatterCon,  FaceBook.com/DarkMatterConsulting or GooglePlus.

Comments

  1. I’m not clear what the point is. The title is the standard “Men don’t help around the house” complaint. But the very brief article is about men taking charge – I think. It seems like an amusingly condescending way of forcing men to do more housework by pretending it is really a masculine job and that we are really in control even though we are not.

    But I’m not sure. Some of these articles are so carefully written to avoid controversy that they make several different contradictory points at once.

    • One reason I think men get that charge of ‘don’t help around the house’ is because women are the self-declared experts, and we’ll never do it their way, even if we want to. Not to mention, there is lots of “housework” that men do that is more traditionally masculine, like cutting the lawn, shoveling snow, and fixing stuff. Women can do those things, too of course, but those are areas we feel comfortable. All I’m saying is that we should 1> take responsibility for care f the home rather than ceding it to our wives; 2> we should do things in ways that work for us. If you don’t fold the laundry “the right way” that’s OK.

      • Tom Brechlin says:

        I was taught a long time ago that as long as the end result is the same, does it matter how we got it done? If I do housework, I do it my way which often times is not the way my wife would do it. Example, my wife loves her Dyson … Byson, Tyson or whatever. We have dogs and a lot of dog hair. I use my shop vacuum. She hates it but the truth is, the HP on my shop vac out powers hers.

  2. John Anderson says:

    What do people mean when they say men should take control? Do they mean that men should clean the house when they believe it needs to be cleaned or do they mean men should clean the house when their wives think it needs cleaning? In the first instance men have true control in the second they simply do what their wives tell them. Are men relegated to deciding whether they use lemon or orange scented cleaner.

    Men and women have different expectations. I once bought 14 work shirts, 7 were white. Women thought that was crazy, but my size didn’t fluctuate that much. Why would I make 6 trips to the store and buy them 2 at a time, if I’m going to spend the money anyway? Buying them at the same time cut down on laundry. A guy I know bought 30 pairs of the same socks so he’d only wash once a month and folding was a snap. He didn’t have to look for pairs. I understand about the cooking. I see no problem with frozen pizza once in a while.

  3. I love the 14 shirts thing. That works for you, right on! the socks thing is brilliant too.

  4. The shirts and socks thing is fine.

    Would be nice if men had more options in terms of colors, fabrics, types of clothing, etc, to vary them though. You can have 14-20-30, however many of that one thing, but it’s nice to have many different colors.

    I have 35-40 pairs of socks. They’re mostly teenage-girl like socks, meaning half of them have patterns. Lots of different colors, some are ankle socks, some are full length socks, and I have two pairs of knee-high socks.

    I’m sure the 14 pairs of the exact same thing have a market, but I also think having socks with stuff on them would sell with some guys who actually want their socks to mean something more than “feet protection, duh”.

    The lack of options in male clothing isn’t out of a biological fact or anything. It’s part of the male gender role – men get to wear practical stuff that expresses nothing, besides maybe their conformity (their ain’t much option to not conform), like working class people who lack funds to buy clothing that can be used to show off.

    Even rich men’s clothing is only more expensive versions of poorer men’s suits and shirts.

    Aristocrat men’s clothing used to have frills, and said frills weren’t seen as feminine. They were expensive, like an expensive muscle car.

    Somewhere along the way, something happened that made men’s clothing merely functional, like a uniform. The demand for more varied clothing could exist, if gender role attitudes didn’t kill it by making pariah of outliers.

    • John Anderson says:

      If you have that many pairs of socks and they’re not particularly distinctive, you might try pinning them together before putting them in your clothes hamper. It takes a few seconds, but you won’t need to hunt for pairs. I’ve got three different key rings and a couple swipe cards for work. I’ve never forgotten anything because I keep a bowl on my dresser. When I come in everything goes into the bowl. When I leave everything comes out of the bowl. Every once in a while I take the change out of there and put it in my jar. It’s not like I’m organized or neat. I just do it for speed.

  5. @schala, you are a man after my own heart! I like @JohnAnderson’s reply because it so obviously works for him, but on matters of style, I’m with you, although my perspective is a little different. I see things much better today for men’s style than 20 years ago when I was just out of college. Then, wearing a powder blue shirt with your navy suit was a pretty bold maneuver, now it’s tame! I see lots more men willing to show their “peacock” side (funny, in so many species other than humans, it’s the male that’s fancy and the female that’s plain…). check out StyleForumDOTnet and DandyismDOTnet. Also, where are you located? If near Chicago, let’s have a drink and “talk shop,” and I’ll introduce you to my tailor, who can make custom suits for a very reasonable price.

    • I’m a trans woman really, but I’ve seen firsthand the (lack of) choices men have for clothing.

      I essentially gave up in front of utter void, I can understand why men aren’t jumping at the chance of buying clone-clothing either.

    • Oh and by the way. I’m far from being a fashionista who needs to have huge variety. I just like to have more variety than zero. I’m a very routine person, but all-of-one-thing vs nothing else is too much even for me.

      I can wear pants, or skirts, or a dress (I’ve got one everyday dress really, but I like it). They can be a variety of colors, fabrics and decorations. I can wear whatever I fancy at a given moment, and it’s been pretty cheap for me (pretty much 90% is secondhand clothing).

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