The job of making and keeping the house clean all the time has been assigned to women for centuries. Such is the case in most cultures with strong productive-reproductive divide where men are expected to financially support the family and women have to stay at home to take care of the house, garden, children, parents, in-laws, pets, livestock and husband.
However, with improved access to education and training, girl children in the Philippines are more likely to take their studies seriously than boys. This is evident in the higher participation, completion and achievement rates of girls in the elementary and secondary levels. With dropout rates among boys higher than girls, the chance for women to proceed to post secondary and tertiary education is greater. This results to more opportunities of getting employed outside the home and the country. With the feminization of labor migration specifically in household service work , women are now the breadwinners in the family.
The entry of women into the domestic workforce and labor migration and their assumption of productive roles should prompt a change in the pattern of the division of labor at home. It requires men to assume housekeeping roles and parental responsibilities. Unfortunately, most men were not trained on housework. Parents allowed the boys to get away with cleaning responsibilities and relegated the routine to the female members of the family. Technological change overtook the roles of fetching water and cutting firewood that were usually assigned to boys. The availability of water inside the house and the prevalence of gas stoves drastically freed the boys and men from their traditional house chore. The girls and women remained to clean, cook, wash and every act to keep the house in order.
This arrangement continues to take a toll on workingwomen who are expected to do the housecleaning before or after work. Unwashed dishes, strewn clothes and shoes, unpaired socks, dusty furniture and floor, cobwebs on the ceiling, unchanged curtains seem to escape the eyes of men and boys. What are they looking at? What are they thinking about when they are at home amidst the clutter?
Should we invent computer games for boys and men to spot the difference between clean and unclean house? Should we make hampers and trash bins look like basketball goals? Should we have brooms with remote controls? And dishwashing liquid that smells like coffee or adobo?
How can You make housecleaning interesting to men and boys? Tell us your thoughts.
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- A Really Easy Answer to the Feminist Housework Problem (nymag.com)