Another story that makes me glad I live alone.
Tracy Clark-Flory at Broadsheet writes about a BBC report of a study showing that single women who live alone clean less than women who live with a male partner — and that men who live with a female partner clean less than they did when they lived alone.
The findings come from analysis by labour economist Helene Couprie of Toulouse University.
Her research, based on data from the British Household Panel Survey looked at working women – single or living with a partner, both with and without children.
And by examining information on more than 2,000 people, she concluded that on average, an employed woman does 15 hours a week of housework when she lives with her employed partner, up from 10 hours when single.
Meanwhile the men, who do seven hours while living alone, do only five when they co-habit.
Am I surprised? Not really (except for that 10 hours bit, which I definitely don’t do now). Though things have undoubtedly improved somewhat from past generations, when men weren’t expected to do much at all once they cohabited with a woman. And part of it, apparently, is what we see when we’re growing up. If Dad pitches in, we see that as normal. If Mom does everything herself, we see that as normal:
The findings are partly, Ms Couprie suggests, due to influences that people have grown up with – where traditionally women have taken on the lion’s share of domestic tasks.
She says that as long as children see their parents stick to certain tasks, such trends become hard to change.
Ultimately, she adds, “it is the work of social evolution”.
And that kind of tells you what needs to change now in order for equity later. Of course, how to accomplish that is always the big question.
Clark-Flory raises an interesting point, though:
The disparity between single and cohabitating women’s cleaning habits could be explained by any number of things. Women might feel more pressure to play domestic diva when they’re living with their significant other. But, I’d also love to see an analysis of single women who live alone versus single women who live with a (platonic) roommate. Having a witness of any kind to your slothfulness can be an incredibly motivating factor; it could be that women are just more prone to that pressure.
I spent pretty much all day Sunday cleaning my rather filthy apartment (I could knit several new pets from the hair I swept up, for one thing. I know where it’s coming from, but how is there so damn much of it?).
Why was I cleaning? My neighbors are coming over tomorrow to look at the apartment and (pleasepleaseplease) sign a contract to buy it. And I just couldn’t deal with them seeing dirty dishes and pet hair and an unmade bed and piles of clutter and the mountains of mail I haven’t sorted through for about three years. Granted, it’s always a good idea to clean before someone who’s interested in buying your apartment comes over; but I won’t even let the Chinese food deliveryman see the mess.
I was much neater, at least in common areas, when I had a roommate, and also when I was dating a lot.
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