The Home Stretch by Sally Howard *why it’s time to come clean about who does the dishes*

Forty years of feminism and still women do the majority of the housework. Why?

In fact, while women are making slow but steady gains on gender disparities in the workplace, at home the gap is widening – in the UK, the average heterosexual British woman puts in 12 more days of household labour per year than her male companion, while young American men are now twice as likely as their fathers to think a woman’s place is in the home. And when ‘having it all’ so often means hiring a nanny or cleaner, is it something to aspire to? 

Sally Howard joins up with a cohort of feminist separatists, undertakes a day’s shift with her Lithuanian cleaner, lives in a futuristic model home designed to anticipate our needs and meets latte papas and one-percent parents in this lively examination which combines history and fieldwork with her personal story. 

The Home Stretch is a fascinating investigation into how we got here and what the future could look like for feminism’s final frontier: the domestic labour gap.

This is a fascinating read that studies why women are still doing the lions share of the housework even after our 1970s feminist forerunners worked so hard for us “have it all”. But unfortunately it looks like having it all means still having to do all the housework, all the cooking, having to arrange all the childcare and, more importantly, still having all the guilt!

Sally Howard uses her own story for us to follow as investigates the domestic labour gap before putting it into practise within her own family’s household. She throws herself into her search for answers by talking to couples living within different social groups and examining what works (or more importantly, what doesn’t!) for them and how they manage their relationships and attitude towards parenting and household chores. I found these personal insights absolutely fascinating and very often took something away from their stories to apply to my own situation.

How many times has your partner said “I did the dishes for you” or similar? I have worked very hard over the years for our domestic situation to be seen as a partnership but it has been a struggle and most of it my own fault for accepting the situation and falling for the old “if I do it badly I won’t have to do it again” routine. There is still a huge gap for most families in how many more hours women put into their household but who’s fault is that and how can we hope to change things when we often perpetuate this issue with our own reactions to the problem?

This is an book packed full of facts with an intriguing insight into the domestic lives of our predecessors and how they handled their life/housework balance with their partner. It also looks at the figures for how different families react nowadays and how they split the housework between them. I’m sorry to say that these percentages didn’t surprise me at all and I think you’ll understand why if you read this.

An absorbing and thought provoking read.

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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

4 thoughts on “The Home Stretch by Sally Howard *why it’s time to come clean about who does the dishes*”

  1. I don’t feel compelled to read this, Jo, but I am totally behind its sentiments. As someone who was brought up in a largely female household, I’ve been set great examples, and mistakenly assumed things were generally a lot more equal for most of my life. For a variety of reasons, I am, sadly, discovering my experience is the exception rather than the rule, and I really don’t understand why. Things do need to change – it’s better for the blokes as well, if they only thought it through. (Sorry. Rant over…)

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    1. Yes you had some good female role models but not many men have had the same and I do think some mothers of sons have also made a rod for their own backs that wives often go along with. And unfortunately this is a book that will be read by the female population rather than the male so it’s still up to us to try to implement change!

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