Men, Women Equal With One Exception: Cleaning

Jessica Grose calls housework 'the final feminist frontier'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2013 1:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – The world is becoming more egalitarian, with men doing a much larger share of things like cooking and childcare these days. "It’s seen as socially admirable and masculine for a man to be on diaper duty or to sous-vide a steak," writes Jessica Grose, whose own husband handles half the midnight baby feedings. "But there are no closet organizing tips in the pages of Esquire, no dishwasher detergent ads in the pages of GQ," and her husband hasn't scoured a single toilet during their six-year relationship. Cleaning, she writes for the New Republic, is the "final feminist frontier."

She shares a few theories as to why (cleaning just isn't fun, laundry detergent is still marketed as a women's product) but ultimately posits that society's instinct is to blame the mess on the woman. "Unfortunately, the notion that women will be the first to be judged for a messy home and the first to be commended for an orderly one isn’t much of an incentive for men to pick up a mop," she writes. But in New York, Jonathan Chait sees something else at work: Women simply have higher cleanliness standards. The underlying assumption is "that there is a correct level of cleanliness in a heterosexual relationship, and that level is determined by the female. I think a little cultural relativism would improve the debate. My wife and I ... settled—fairly, I think—on a home that’s neater than I’d prefer to keep it, but less neat than she would." Click for Grose's full column or Chait's response. (Read more housework stories.)

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