I am currently lapping up Cordelia Fine's Delusions of Gender, which tears down study after study 'proving' men and women are hardwired to be different, and I recently finished the chapter about domestic life. She concludes with this doozy by Gloria Steinem:
The idea of having it all never meant doing it all. Men are parents, too, and actually women will never be equal outside the home until men are equal inside the home.
I'm big on equality at home and I am proprio pallosa about it with Andrea. It's been hard because by harping on about it, I know I veer treacherously into hideous nag territory. But the risk is worth it because I just won't stop till things are completely equal, at least. Considering I work and earn more, it should be unequal in my favour. And it turns out the fact that I'm married to an Italian man actually doesn't make my situation all that different from my counterparts elsewhere. As Fine explains:
When one person earns more than the other then he (most likely) enjoys greater bargaining power at the trade union negotiations that, for some, become their marriage. Certainly, in line with this unromantic logic, as a woman's financial contribution approaches that of her husband's, her housework decreases. It doesn't actually become equitable, you understand. Just less unequal. But only up to the point at which her earnings equal his. After that--when she starts to earn more than him--something very curious starts to happen. The more she earns, the more housework she does. In what sociologist Sampson Lee Blair has described as the "sadly comic data" from his research, "where she has a job and he doesn't ... even then you find the wife doing the majority of the housework."
Indeed, it would appear I'm doing quite well. And it sounds like Fine's husband and the father of her children knocks it out of the park:
You have heard, no doubt, the saying that the personal is the political. Based on his own experiences within a marriage in which we struggle against convention to split things equally, my husband has developed his own, expanded version of this motto. As he would state it, “The school drop-off is the political, the staying home when the kids are sick is the political, the writing of the shopping list is the political, the buying of the birthday presents is the political, the arranging of the baby-sitter is the political, the packing of the lunch boxes is the political, the thinking about what to have for supper is the political, the remembering of the need to cut the children’s toenails is the political…"
Andrea actually does a lot of the above. But again, I still do more. Ever since I read the passage above I've been thinking, about all those little things that take up my time and not his:
- putting healthy food and vitamins into your kid is political
- treating laundry stains is political
- staying in touch with family is political
- wiping down the counters is political
- brushing your kids teeth regularly is political
I'd be especially curious to hear from those of you partnered with Italian men about how equal things are in your home. I know you've got some stories.