I note the #ChoreChallenge and appreciate what it is trying to achieve. Highlighting disparities on the domestic front is a great idea. I am, however, deeply uncomfortable with how Soraya Chemaly and Ishita Srivastava have presented #ChoreChallenge in their Huffington Post article.
To me, it is poking the finger at men and blaming them for not doing enough on the domestic front. It fails to recognize that the domestic and childcare spheres have not been opened up to men in the same way as the workplace has been opened to women (imperfectly and with more to do, but opened to women nonetheless).
I write this as a stay at home father who sacrificed a career to run my family’s household. Speaking from personal experience, Chemaly and Srivastava have failed to understand how a household like mine works. Their article states that;
“Care and domestic labor is gendered in most families, including LGBTQ families who, less subject to gender role demands, tend to share more equally. So, for example, one person in a couple will take on typically “women’s” or “mother’s work” — changing babies, doing laundry, fetching water, arranging medical care and social schedules, while the other will take on “men’s,” outdoor work, car maintenance, painting or plumbing.”
This is not the case in my household or many others where the man takes on the domestic duties. Not only does the man take on domestic duties, he remains responsible for household maintenance, the car etc. because very often the woman does not have the knowledge to undertake such tasks. I would hope this will change in successive generations, but at this point in time, it is an uncomfortable truth.
I wish #ChoreChallenge every success but fear it will turn into an unhelpful man-bashing exercise. Energies would be better off spent engaging with men such as myself who have experience of dealing with and breaking down gender barriers.
Work Care Share is a collaboration of men and women who believe in equality. We respect and learn from each other’s perspectives and we are planning to launch a report on the cost to the UK of not sharing roles. If you would like to follow the campaign, please join us.