The Virus Diaries: Men

March 30, 2020 at 7:54 pm (Fully Sick, general life, Love and CJ, Mum Stuff)

Today Louisette’s apocalypse wear is: sitting inside a tub that she has filled with soft toys.

I’m going to keep this one brief, for my own sanity. I’m also sticking to heteronormative relationships, since that’s what I know best. And, obviously, this doesn’t apply to all men. Just most of them.

Here’s some articles that I’m deliberately not reading because they’re too close to home (lolz):

Even Breadwinning Wives Don’t Get Equality At Home.

Why Men Who Earn Less Still Do Less Housework.

Dirty Secret: Why is there still a housework gender gap?

 

Research Shows Moms With Husbands or Live-In Male Partners Do More Housework Than Single Moms

I was looking for a particular stat, but a simple google search came up with pages and pages of articles like these.

Here’s another stat: Women who have children earn less…. but men who have children earn more. Presumably because employers know that women will be bearing the brunt of the kid-related work and stress.

And another one: After becoming fathers, men do LESS housework than before. Presumably because employers are right… and because women are too tired to have to tell yet ANOTHER human being basic stuff like, “Darling, it would be nice if you did the dishes.” If we want to politely and constantly tell someone to do something they should already know they should be doing, we’d have more children.

ProTip: If you act like a child, we will not be attracted to you. Seriously. And if you are SO SMUG that you did a few dishes or vacuumed or did whatever other basic, standard chore… yeah, that’s good, but it’s not some super impressive achievement. You’re on Level 1 and we’re on Level 15. Don’t make us pretend you’re more amazing than you are.

That last article above also says that women with a live-in male partner SLEEP LESS than single mothers. Ew. So men are often worse than useless. You better be pretty, boys.

Fun fact: Above a certain IQ point, a woman’s chance of marrying falls, and keeps falling the higher her IQ. (And yes, I’m aware that IQ tests are deeply flawed. That’s not the point here.) Is it because men are so invested in the idea that they’re superior that they can’t marry someone smarter than them… or is is because smarter women know that getting married is a bad idea? You decide!

The ‘invisible’ jobs of motherhood, such as those specifically outlined above (and stuff like remembering to get the kids’ homework done, and their costume for the school play, and arranging playdates, and checking for lice, and remembering every family birthday, and noticing when the household is running low on peanut butter, and so much more) are a whole insidious realm that a shockingly high percentage of men don’t even recognise as work. Or difficult.

Every time I stand up I glance around the room looking for things (toys, dirty dishes) that need to be moved. Every time I walk through a room I see at least five jobs that need to be done, and I typically pick one and do it. Today I picked up lolly wrappers from around Chris’s computer keyboard because he doesn’t even see what’s directly in front of him (or remember that he planned to deal with it later).

I’ve mentioned before (and it’s been mentioned in the news many times) that a lot of people will be getting divorced this year. A lot of unresolved issues will be VERY MUCH in the foreground both emotionally and physically, and a lot of people will not be able to live with their partners any more.

Most of those people will be women.

Most men think they do as much or more work around the house as their partner does. Most men are wildly incorrect. Most men need to learn fast, or they won’t be married much longer. (And I’m sure you’ve forgotten how desperately you hoped your wife would love you back before she was your wife. She is still a prize that any man would be lucky to have. But other women won’t be impressed by a man that doesn’t pull his weight around the house. If you’re old enough to be married, women your age are old enough to know how to tell if a man is disrespectful to women even if he doesn’t know himself.)

And yes, gentlemen, I know things are rough for you and there is a lot of uncertainty at work, and health fears (for you and your parents and friends and family), and a lot of restrictions on your usual stress-relief activities, and so on and so on. But I can almost guarantee you that your wife is going through everything you are plus the hassle of looking after YOU. Your mess, your meals, your work needs.

If your kids are at home, and your wife works the same number of hours as you (or, as in my case, works as much as they are physically able to), you better be doing your share of looking after those little disease vectors that are suddenly home full-time and needing some educating too. And yeah, your work will suffer. Hers probably already is, so if you actually see her as equal then you need to prioritise family over work right now too. Yes, even if she earns less than you. Money is important but being a good father is more than just your earning capacity. It’s also how much actual adulting you do at home.

Too many men STILL walk through the front door and utterly relax. They’re home, in their beautiful castle, and the work day is over.

Well guess what. Your work day isn’t over. Your wife isn’t relaxing. She’s been working without a break since you stepped out the door, and she’s still working now.

Here are some basic survival-level chores (what Chris does is in italics):

FOOD:

-Plan necessary food shopping (which includes meal prep, and knowing that Kid A is only eating green apples and not red apples this week, and attempting to get fruit and veggies and protein into your kids every day).

-Shopping.

-Cooking/Preparing breakfast, lunch, at least two snacks, and dinner. (Chris prepares his lunch and the kids’ lunches when they’re at school; he is continuing to make their lunches on days he is working from home. He also does kids’ breakfast every day although I prepare milk etc the night before so they can have a drink and Louisette’s medicine before we wake up.)

-Cleaning up all the food stuff, doing dishes, and wiping down surfaces.

HYGIENE:

-Shower, teeth, and brushing hair. Same for kids. Every day. I was doing the kids’ showers every day, but now that Chris doesn’t have to be on the bus for two hours a day he is taking care of that. And he’s playing wii with TJ for at least an extra hour per day.

CLEANLINESS:

-Washing, drying, sorting, and putting away clothes.

-Clean bathrooms once a week.

-Vacuum the whole house at least once a month, probably once a week.

KIDS:

-taking them to/from school

-staying on top of loads of school communication, plus school events, plus assignments and homework, plus contributing to the school community.

-play dates and birthday parties (I organise and run our kids’ birthday parties; Chris takes the kids to other peoples’ parties)

-researching and deciding on toys, keeping kids amused, spending time with kids. (Chris is ‘Primary Parent’ on weekends.)

-putting them to bed, and possibly getting them up in the morning. (Chris puts TJ to bed and I do the same for Louisette. They both wake before us in the morning and watch TV.)

SOCIAL:

-Organising gifts for people’s birthdays, weddings, and other events (we have at least one event a month just from our immediate families).

-Checking schedules and keeping a family calendar.

-Showing up to stuff. With everybody dressed and all the paraphernalia that kids need to bring.

Obviously a lot of people mop floors, clean windows, wipe down cupboards, and so on. We sometimes mop (about twice a year), and we never iron. Gardening is a thing which we’re not doing super well at (Chris does about an hour of weeding on weekends when I ask him to).

I’m a better cook than Chris, and doing dishes is physically painful for me, so we’re set in our roles there. Sometimes Chris cooks (on the weekend), but he still does the dishes those nights. Like most male cooks, his cooking typically leaves more dishes and mess than mine does.

Before we were married, I felt that the biggest threat to our relationship was that we could far too easily fall into the pattern where I took responsibility for everything around the house, and also had to constantly ask Chris to do his share. I talked to Chris about this several times and I don’t think he ever understood. But we’ve settled into it now and at least the basic stuff gets done (when I ask Chris to do it). We’ve been married 11 years, and there are a few very big important things that I don’t have to remind Chris to do every single day any more: he prepares breakfast for the kids, helps them brush their teeth morning and night, and he has learned to do the nightly dishes without being told. Oddly enough he often leaves several items (an empty bottle of milk that just needs to be rinsed and put in the recycling; not wiping down the table, etc) undone. So I do tend to check up on the kitchen every morning, and often I’ll get that sinking feeling when I realise I need to finish it off for him. This is deeply unsexy, but it’s something I can live with (I am also aware that people with ADD don’t get the “Ah, I’m finished!” satisfied feeling that most people get when finishing an unpleasant job). And yes, he reads this blog. Hello sweetheart.

Guys, women don’t actually like nagging you. In fact, we hate it more than you do.

I strongly recommend that, if you are one of two adults in your house, you sit down and AGREE on who is responsible for what jobs during isolation time. And when they should be done, and how (eg vacuuming involves moving light furniture and catching the dust bunnies under the couch). Think very carefully about what ALL the jobs are. Is someone keeping track of government guidelines as they change day by day? Is someone setting up play dates via Zoom? Is one person doing all the lesson planning (that’s fine as long as it’s compensated for elsewhere) or all the teaching (ditto)? Or all the keeping-in-touch with humanity? Or all the tech support?

Kindness, and doing more than just your assigned job is all good! But make sure you do your own jobs BEFORE you play the hero and do hers. Because otherwise what’s the point?

Resource of the day: Two articles (here and here) about domestic abuse, and how it’s getting worse. There are a (very) few suggestions on what to do. The advice, as always, is: if you’re afraid, you’re right, and you need to get OUT even though it’s terrifying and difficult. If you’re someone who has my phone number or another mode of contact, you can talk to me and I’ll see if I can find a safe place for you in your area. My email is fellissimo@hotmail.com

Yeah, it’s not a coincidence that I talked about lazy/oblivious menfolk in the same entry as domestic violence. Because they both involve men having more power than their wives, and using that to benefit themselves while treating women as second class citizens.

Recommended donation of the day: Rize up, a charity that helps victims of domestic abuse.

Personal action of the day: Is someone you know very isolated, and all the more so during this COVID-19 time? Try to connect with them, if you can. If you suspect abuse, be VERY careful as their partner may read their mail and SMSes, listen in on phone calls, etc.

Hoarding item of the day: Firewood. I think when Winter hits it’ll become a hot property, so stock up now rather than stocking up at the last minute.

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