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2010-04-24 / Community News

Laura on Life

Woman’s Work

At what point in a male child’s development does he realize that he is a “man.” Is it as soon as he is wrapped in blue bunting and sent home from the hospital? Is it the day that someone hands him a toy truck as opposed to a baby doll? Does it sink in when he is taught to pee standing up?

Does he finally get it when he is given the chore of taking out the trash and his sister has to do all the dishes?

What day is it that a male child figures out that he never has to do any housework as long as he marries someone who likes a clean house?

When does it typically dawn on a woman that she has been set up? We have been taught to cook, clean, do laundry, and dust since the time we could hold a broom, so that we could have a clean house. Of course, it would be unfair not to allow women the satisfaction of actually getting paid for a job well done, so we train them for the work place as well.

If a couple wants a child, women are the one’s equipped with the uterus and breasts, so we get stuck with that job as well.

So what exactly is a man’s job? Before there were supermarkets, it was his job to hunt for food for the family. Now we have supermarkets and the only time you’ll catch a man in the grocery store is if he is single, his wife is in a coma, or he needs beer.

Years ago, a man used to be the sole “breadwinner” which, of course, was much harder than handling the housework and a trio of squabbling toddlers all day, so it earned him the right to collapse in front of the TV while his unpaid domestic laborer cooked him a nice dinner. Then he glued himself to the TV all night while she finished up the laundry, and supervised the children in their after-dinner chores and homework. He no longer even had to take out the trash because that’s what sons are for.

These days, the typical household is hard put to make it on a single income, so his unpaid domestic laborer gets a job and becomes the tool by which he can finally buy the boat he’s always wanted. Why doesn’t he buy a maid instead? Because he already got one of those when he said, “I do!”

There are promises made that he will pick up some of the household chores if she goes to work, but he suddenly finds himself lacking the necessary skills it takes to wipe down a counter or run a vacuum. Besides, every time he “tries,” his wife tells him he did something wrong, so why bother doing it at all?

I wonder: If the boss told a man he was doing something wrong, would he simply stop doing the job, or would he try to get better at it? Then again, it’s so much easier to stop when nobody pays you to do it. And what does he care whether the house is clean anyway?

“What are you talking about?” our man says, “I do work!”

Yes, if there is a new roof to put on or a tree to cut down, they’re on it. But just how often does that happen? Those roof shingles are guaranteed for 20 years. Just imagine if we could take the weekend to clean a bathroom and never have to do again for twenty years!

There are men who have the “Mr. Mom” thing down to a tee. These are men who have actually tried, God bless them, because not trying could be disastrous in this case. Too many other men would rather be working outside the house because they think women are better equipped to deal with children. It’s not true necessarily, but how many times has a woman arrived home to find that her husband had taken a nap while her children were playing with power tools? Is this because he didn’t know that children can do everything an adult can do only with limited dexterity and nonexistent mental capacity or was it that he just didn’t care?

So yeah, the injustice of it all is sometimes galling, and sometimes I just need to vent. What it comes down to and has always come down to is that if a woman doesn’t want to live in a house that looks like a bachelor’s pad, she is obliged to do the work, no matter how many other hats she has to wear, because most men kind of like the idea of a bachelor’s pad.

For women, staying single is becoming more and more appealing.

Laura Snyder is a syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach her at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com.

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