with Sara and Veronica
We're two moms with different backgrounds, jobs and points of view, writing about our opinions on the political and social issues affecting working moms. We'll also keep our eye on the media and the celebrity mom world to highlight issues that are relevant to your life.
Check out our personal blogs: Veronica's Blog and Sara's Blog
I have a confession - I was a finalist for the 2006 Swiffer Amazing Woman of the Year. The call went out for nominations and many thought it was stereotypical for a cleaning product to name amazing women. Of course I went directly to the fine print and rules. No where did it say that the amazing woman had to keep a clean house. This was important because I’m a lucky gal in that my husband is the one who keeps us from living in a pit of dirty dishes and laundry. If we were to tally up the hours each of us spends on chores I believe it would be at least a 60/40 split (some weeks far more towards the 80/20 end) with my husband on the losing end. I know we’re a rare pair, but among our hetero-couple friends, it’s fairly common for them to be engaged in an egalitarian relationship when it comes to chores and raising the kids. Obviously I didn’t win and it was pretty embarrassing asking co-workers to vote for me on the internet for a chance to spend the summer promoting Swiffers. But I really did want to promote the idea of egalitarian relationships - Maybe that doomed me, eh? I also wanted the cash prize $5,000 for a nonprofit of my choice.
Whether you work in a cubicle downtown or in your fuzzy slippers during nap time, all working moms have to manage housework on top of our paid work. According to a new study by lead researcher Frank Stafford, an economist at University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, when women get married, the amount of housework we do goes up. It goes up again once we have kids (that’s a no brainer, eh?).
Overall, times are a’ changing in the American home. In 1976, women busied themselves with 26 weekly hours of sweeping-and-dusting work, compared with 17 hours in 2005. Men are pitching in more, more than doubling their housework hours from six in 1976 to 13 in 2005.
Stafford analyzed time-diaries and questionnaires from a nationally representative sample of men and women over a 10-year period between 1996 and 2005. The federally-funded study showed that, compared with the single life, marriage meant more housework for both men and women.
Despite this slight imbalance of who does the housework (look at the numbers, it’s only 4 hours), advertising appears to be addressing both moms and dads. In the study, Is Mom Still Doing It All? Reexamining Depictions of Family Work in Popular Advertising, in the Journal of Family Issues (Vol. 29), advertising is moving from solely targeting moms to targeting, well, this ambiguous person who does the housework. It is unclear if the ambiguity is due to being gender neutral or relying on the fact that their ads run in magazines with a 70-80 percent women readers that women will know they are the target. Another finding is that with advertising all dads are weekend dads, in other words many of the ads that do feature dads show them doing fun things not chores.
On the other hand, fathers are depicted as less involved with child care and housework and, instead, as having fun in their father role…For example, food advertisements that depicted fathers generally showed the father eating with the child instead of preparing a meal for or feeding the child. Fathers were shown camping with their children, waiting at the dinner table for mom to serve the meal, or playing with his kids in the backyard. Even advertisements which focused on the dad and food failed to show him cooking. For example, one advertisement exclaims “Lucky girl, you’ve got a Splenda daddy,” only to show a little girl enjoying ice cream while being carried on her father’s shoulders in the backyard.
All these studies leave me perplexed. Are we moving towards a more egalitarian society where dads care for their children and don’t babysit them? Does it matter that cleaning products are directed towards a generic “you” instead of dad or mom? Could this be the recognition of more child-free households who do clean? Yes, these are questions that run through my head at any given moment of the day.
Why? Because as the number of two income families increase, the other stuff - kids, cleaning, relaxation, fun, reading - ya know, all the stuff that make up life outside of the cube, there needs to be a sharing of those things. Kids need their dads, moms need to put the IKEA furniture together, and everyone should help out with the laundry. So to answer my question…Who fries it? I’d say it depends on whose turn it is to cook.
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