Emasculated Men Refuse to Do Chores—Except Cooking

“For some men, these are scary times. Men lost jobs in the recession, and women outnumber them on college campuses. (Some are predicting, in fact, that we’re witnessing the end of men.)As I’ve written, one way some men are responding to their slipping place in the social hierarchy is by supporting Donald Trump, whose rhetoric hearkens to a less progressive, more traditional time.

But another way men react to having their masculinity threatened is stealthier. They do fewer chores, according to an analysis by Dan Cassino […] and […] Yasemin Besen-Cassino […]. According to their findings, men especially avoid housework just when you’d think they would pick up the slack: When they make less than their wives do.

Overall in the U.S., women [do housework] more than men do. American men did an average of 15 minutes of housework each day, while women did 45, the Cassinos write. Most men—77 percent—did no housework on any given day, while most women—55 percent—did at least some.

This is, it’s worth noting, an American rather than global norm. American women tend to do more housework than women in other countries—about four and a half hours each week, on average.”

“The study authors then sought to determine how an American married couple’s relative salaries would affect their willingness to do chores. As expected, when unemployed, both men and women did slightly more housework. And the more money the wives made, the more the husbands helped out around the house—all good there.But things change when the wife earns more than the husband. In that case, he does less than he otherwise would. In female-breadwinner households, the greater the income disparity, the less housework the husband does.”

“You can see the out-earned husbands (red line) doing relatively less housework compared to the breadwinner husbands (blue line) in this chart:

Minutes Per Day Spent on Housework by Married Men


The Cassinos speculate that being out-earned by their wives threatens mens’ masculinity, so they react by doing less [housework], a stereotypically feminine task. We can imagine these men thinking, “She might earn all the money, but I’m not going to do dishes,” Dan Cassino told me.”“The only exception to this double-injustice? Cooking. In Cassino’s study, between 2002 and 2010, men upped the amount of time they spent cooking each day. And cooking didn’t follow the same gender-threatened trend cooking did: The more their wives earned, the more time the men spent in the kitchen.”

“Surprisingly, this cooking trend only emerged after 2008. Before the recession, cooking followed the same pattern as housework, with out-earned men doing relatively little of it. “Cooking is not seen as being as intertwined with masculinity as housework,” the Cassinos write. “Preparing food can easily involve the use of specialized equipment and techniques, a craft that men can be proud of their prowess in.”Cooking, they speculate, has become manly—more of a leisure activity than a chore, and one that can involve flaming-hot meats, no less.

Indeed, in another recent study of men who cook, the participants saw cooking as a type of “work-leisure”—not quite one or the other. The ones who had “few or no childcare responsibilities” were more likely to find it pleasurable, since they “seemed to have more freedom to relax and take their time in the kitchen.”

The post-recession era has coincided with a rise in foodie culture, which might have contributed to men’s growing interest in the culinary arts. Pushing a vacuum cleaner might seem effete to American men, but post an expertly grilled steak on Instagram, and you’re practically Don Draper.

To the Cassinos, the rise of the manly chef might be a sign that eventually cleaning and childcare will become similarly de-gendered. If that’s the case, I’d be ready to angel-invest in a new—and very macho—social-media platform designed for people to brag about washing the sheets without being asked.”

Khazan, Olga. 2016. “Emasculated Men Refuse to Do Chores—Except Cooking.” The Atlantic, October 24. Retrieved October 28, 2017 (https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/10/the-only-chore-men-will-do-is-cook/505067/). [Emphasis added. Links and picture in original.]

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