June 14, 2008

People keep telling me to read this article...

... but every time I look at it, I get sidetracked and I'm just: no, no, no, no, no, no.


rhhardin said...

I see it goes up to page 10.

knoxwhirled said...

I skimmed it... it's a tired subject.

It's weird and unnatural for a couple to insist so deliberately: "Everything is going to be equal!" What this means in practice is that both are in fact neurotically keeping score like it's some sort of contest.

Newsflash: lots of women are still unhappy because they naturally take an interest in the cleanliness and organization of the home--and resent the fact that their husbands don't. I suspect that when women claim they do the majority of the housework, they either don't realize just how much their partner contributes, or have decided that whatever he does "doesn't count" somehow.

This all leads me back to the same question articles like this always do: Who wants their husband dithering about the dust collecting under the tv?
Who wants a woman-y man? Not me.

madawaskan said...

shorts, wall art, pattern, pattern, pattern, pattern.

vbspurs said...
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vbspurs said...

I'm also easily distracted by this article. Stopped twice before page 3. I'll go back to it, though.

I have some questions about the 2:1 ratio of shared housework, a stat the article fetishised.

Why are there never any sociological stats about married women mowing the lawn? Cleaning the gutters? Washing the car? Dealing with vermin infestation? Etc. etc. etc.

Could it be that whilst women no doubt still do the bulk of housework, even today, that marriages are more than just about cooking and cleaning -- and those stats where men overwhelmingly take the lead are rarely noted?

Funny that.


Ann Althouse said...

mad got it

Ann Althouse said...

Actually, the picture is fabulous. Like the fabulous NYT picture featured in the Stuff White People like post I linked to yesterday.

So much detail. Who cares what's in the article? That picture!

UWS guy said...

My father built the home my mother lives in, how much fucking 'house work' does that add up to?

It must be the depth of field in the photo that draws you in so ms. althouse.

There's a reason the website 'thingswhitepeoplelike' no longer accept for consideration articles from the NYT.

Palladian said...

The picture is so much more articulate, interesting and sardonic than the article.

Palladian said...

They tried to make Ann read the article, but she said no, no, no.

Joe said...

I trudged through the article. The author was probably being paid by the words since it's highly repetitive. The author also didn't do very much fact checking. The infamous, who does the most housework, statistics she cites DON'T, in fact, include yard work and house repairs. It also becomes quickly apparent that the entire premise is flawed--the husband makes more than the wife and they aren't splitting everything 50-50 "literally". He pays the bills and takes care of the lawn. She shops for clothes. In terms of actual work done, these aren't close to being comparable. (In fact, it appears that he's now doing more of the actual work--great if it works for them, but don't blow smoke up my ass.)

blake said...

They look like characters from a Woody Allen movie, don't they?

I mean from, from the '70s Allen movies. I didn't get past the picture either.

I thought: Why does that look so joyless?

Freeman Hunt said...

That picture is awesome.

The article is bizarre. Knowwhirled nails it. It could be titled "How to Become Neurotic Parents and Partners." The parents are obsessed with 50-50 and not splitting any duties traditionally, so every tiny bit of minutiae has to be discussed and parceled out.

For heck's sake, it's not that hard. Just get things done. Ask for help if you need it. Don't obsess about OCD-level cleanliness because no one cares, not even your guests.

Theo Boehm said...

I got hives when I looked at the picture, and my left eye went out of focus when I tried to read the article.

Three out of four of them are playing musical instruments, which to me at least, being both in the musical instrument business and a music lover, is a mixed blessing. I have no idea if the article says anything about music in the family, as it is as unreadable as printers' Greek.

Professor, you see shorts. I see a tambourine.

Only James Lileks could do what needs to be done to this, but he might have to wait 20 years or so.

Looking at that picture again, I don't think he'll have to wait at all.

Theo Boehm said...

Freeman--I used to be a neatnik, and it would drive me crazy how messy my wife was. Detailed agreements about dividing responsibilities broke down mainly because of the invisible nature of my wife's housework.

I then tried passive-aggression to get my wife to obsess even a teeny bit about cleanliness.

That didn't work either, but we sure have a messy house.

Damned if the guests don't notice. Of course we live among the haut bourgeoisie in a traditionally uptight western Boston suburb.

Next stop: Revere.

(Sorry for the slightly inside Boston joke. Like everything else in Massachusetts, if you're from here you'd know.)

Fen said...

It also becomes quickly apparent that the entire premise is flawed--the husband makes more than the wife and they aren't splitting everything 50-50 "literally".

Exactly. My wife makes twice as much as me and her days are more stressful. So I take on all the housework. Its sharing, not score-keeping, and it won't ever seem "fair" to someone who's wrapped around the axle re who does what.

Meade said...

I read all ten pages and thought it was pretty good.

During courtship, people say all kinds of things about fairness and sharing but fail to follow up on many of them after they become legal partners in marriage. Years later, in divorce court, as adversaries, they fight to get their respective equal shares. It's upside down: We should begin in divorce court, hammer out the particulars of who deserves what, and then go off and whisper the sweet nothings before then comes baby in a baby carriage.

I say credit to these young adventurous couples who are deliberately trying to walk the walk of genuine feminism: Equal opportunity, responsibility, caregiving, and rewards.

Unfortunately, the norm is just a lot of talk talk talk.

UWS guy said...

Speaking of Lieleks, He's got a cool new widget on his blog that has a map that shows the location of all his readers for the day (down to cities of course...no street addresses).

Althouse should get one o' them.

knoxwhirled said...

genuine feminism: Equal opportunity, responsibility, caregiving, and rewards.

Women influenced by this brand of feminism want to split the housework not so that it's "equal" but because they are mortally terrified of being classified in any way, shape, or form as a "housewife" or "homemaker." They want to be able to brag to their friends "Tom and I split all the housework." Which means poor Tom is probably doing twice as much around the house as the wife. If you want to live that way and pat yourself on the back for it, cool, but I still think it's artificial and neurotic.

Meade said...

It may be artificial and neurotic. I can't argue that it isn't, knox. But it does seem like a deliberate effort to share and I have to applaud that.

Often, in a marriage, one party is more dominating than the other. Dividing up work and rewards by agreement and getting it in writing is an effective tool for achieving fairness. And isn't it typically a sense of unfairness that triggers most divorces? Seems to me it is.

Moose said...

Want to start a fight with your wife?

Say "I think I've been doing 51% of the housework this week".

Run for cover...

blake said...

Yeah, Theo, they're playing music but where's the joy?

It's perhaps an unfair picture, and certainly an unfair assessment, but at the same time, kids usually rejoice in making noise.

I'd probably say the same thing about sharing to Meade (of course, he read the article and I didn't). Sharing is great, but where's the joy.

But then, I'm a sloppy tab keeper. It drives me nuts when people obsess over who pays for what at lunch.

Meade said...

blake said...
"...Sharing is great, but where's the joy?"

from the article, apparently, no one but I read but millions recommend:

She took a hard look at the satisfaction she got from her office job, which was nil compared with the joy she had found while planting crops in Chad.

Let me suggest that rearing children is not a whole lot different from raising crops in Chad. In both cases, uncomfortable bodily fluids, foul odors, and demands for attention cannot be ignored. Both require patience, self-sacrifice, and delay of gratification. Much is outside one's control. But there can be great satisfaction and joy in watching children (and crops) grow and mature - tangible creative rewards.

No one in this article suggests that everyone needs to follow their particular example. The author looks at several different families, each forming their own approach to sharing the chores of parenting and maintaining a home. Meanwhile, Barak Obama is being widely congratulated and fawned over for suggesting fathers not abandon their families. Fine. These modern times couples are making a good faith effort to keep their marriages and families intact. I'm surprised at the hostility displayed in this comment thread.

From where will the boys-to-men Obama pleads for come?

Meade said...
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blake said...

Hey, no fair reading the article!

The point is to make a snap judgment based on the photo!

(We takes joy where we can gets it.)

Meade said...