Men Claiming To Be Useless At Chores Is An Act of Misogyny – We Need To Stop Enabling It

This week we've seen men needing pictures to do grocery shopping and star charts to do their chores. Enough is enough.


by Rebecca Reid |

There is no question that women do more unpaid domestic labour than men. In fact women do around 26 hours of unpaid cleaning & domestic work per week, whereas men do just 16. So women are doing 60% more work at home than men.

Why? Often because doing it yourself is easier than getting a male partner to help.

This week a woman took to Twitter to share that she thinks it is 'cute' that she has to send her boyfriend pictures of what to buy in the supermarket, or else he's not able to bring home the right items.

It's not cute though, is it? It's annoying. And eventually she will probably work out that it takes longer to make a shopping list picture book, and start doing the shop herself. Which, subconsciously or consciously, is the aim of this ineptitude.

If you do something badly enough, eventually someone else will take over the task and then you'll have more time to sit around doing sweet FA.

Similarly, the internet was rocked this week by a picture of a sticker reward chart on a wall, where the tasks were for the family's father, rather than a small child.

It has been suggested that this reward chart might be satirical, but even if this one isn't totally genuine, you can buy a 'honey do list' online which specially sets out how to request chores from your partner without 'nagging'. If you search for a 'husband reward chart' there are hundreds of them online.

We've all seen it in action - men who use their ineptitude as an excuse not to help out. Men who are so poor at household tasks that their wives and girlfriends take on the responsibility for the entire cleaning/cooking/ domestic routine to save time.

Those men are usually quite good fun. They're the ones you enjoying going for a drink with, the ones who are a great laugh. But being a nice guy and a great laugh does not absolve you from sharing the burden of running a household.

Usually when you think about misogyny it's the big hitters. The violent stuff. Men who run entire Twitter accounts dedicated to body shaming women. The big fat indefensible sexism which we all know is wrong.

But there is also another kind of sexism, and it's hiding in plain sight. It's the kind of sexism that comes when women get into romantic relationships with people who are 'just a bit useless'. A very special kind of useless which renders the man in question unable to help around the home.

Very few household tasks are too difficult for an average adult to manage. Washing up, loading the dishwasher, hoovering, cooking a basic meal, dusting, doing a food shop or wiping down the bathroom - do any of these sound like rocket science?

Men who are 'useless' around the house are often seen by their partners as 'cute' or 'sweet', as if their ineptitude is sort of bumbling charm. But in reality, opting not to help around the house is an act of misogyny.

Being 'rubbish' at housework stems from an assumption that your time is too valuable to learn how to do something helpful. This assumption is responsible for the 'second shift' - an expression which describes how women often do an entire day at work and then get home to do another work shift, only this time it's unpaid.

It's not that these men are actually unable to perform these tasks, it's that they don't want to. And so they don't. And rather than forcing their partner to do them, or 'nagging' (a deeply sexist term for asking someone to do a task that they should be doing anyway), women do the job for them.

If you're in a relationship with someone who is 'useless' at household chores it might seem easier to do whatever task you're dealing with, rather than accept it being done to a low standard, or request multiple times that it gets done. But when you do a job for your partner, not only do you add to your own workload, you send the message that it's okay for them to slack off.

Last year Celine Smith wrote about how she's dumped her friends who treat their partners like children, exhausted by watching them leave pre-prepped meals for their man if they go out for dinner, or praising dads who 'babysit' their own children.

Women have absolutely got to stop accepting ineptitude as an excuse for laziness. All household tasks should be split 50/50 between the working adults in the house. If you're a couple with one stay at home parent then domestic labour should be calculated according to working hours. Any other arrangement is just plain unfair.

As is so often the case, the mess wasn't made by women, but it's us who has to clear it up. But on the upside, if we play our cards right, it'll be the last mess of someone else's making that we have to clear up.

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