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.