Whenever I think about love, I think about partnership and I envision what it would be like to be married.
Recently, I had a great conversation with a working writer and activist who is also a married mother. “I know how to be single and happy,” she said. “What I’m working on is learning how to be happy with another person.”
She still very much identifies with the struggles of singles who are considered infantile until they are partnered. And I had a lot of compassion for her and some of my other friends who are searching for models of partnered love that do not oppress women who also enjoy little luxuries like freedom and leisure. So, of course, reading things like this are pretty sobering:
Women are a growing part of the American workforce. In the last 25 years, the number of working women has grown by 44.2 percent, while 59.4 percent of working-age women are currently in the labor force. Sixty percent of women are the primary or co-bread winner for their household.
But despite those historic numbers, most women are still left doing the majority of the house work.
A new report out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics details how both men and women spend their days, and it comes as no surprise that women do a larger portion of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other chores:
On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework–such as cleaning or doing laundry–compared with 48 percent of women. Forty percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 66 percent of women.
The numbers can be in part explained by the women who don’t work or who have part-time jobs. But the disproportionate burden of housework on women shows that a “second shift” still exists for those who work. While women have earned more rights in the office place (though they still aren’t fairly paid for their work), there is still the burden for them to be the primary housekeepers and caretakers.
There are a dozen reasons why this is no bueno. The glorious benefit to being single, of course, is that I can leave the dishes dirty until it requires a power cleaner to get the hard spaghetti sauce off the plate from my intentional neglect. Underthings can hang from the ceiling fans if I want. No one will see it for days but me.
But the other thing that makes this a rough situation is that I want to take care of my partner, but I also don’t like to do free work. I don’t want the house to smell like the inside of a hamper, but that’s what Glade plug-ins are for. Relationships, I hear, are work. So is marriage. Maybe I’m too tired from the heat to see how this ends up being a good deal for women. Am I missing something?