More women are contributing equally to household incomes in this country, but the same cannot be said for men contributing to household chores. Yes, I am talking about the "cleaning gap," in which working women are splitting the mortgage but not the dishes—a scenario with consequences that are bad for everyone.
A new poll released by the nonpartisan market research firm YouGov highlights this gap, finding that only 15% of dads do the laundry daily and 33% of dads do the laundry once a week. Sure, laundry may seem like a small task—if you're the one who doesn't have to do it. But the chore can take hours out of a day, especially if it's being done in a shared laundry room or at a laundromat down the street.
These sad housework stats aren't relegated to laundry. The most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor found that, on an average day, 22% of men did housework of any kind compared with 50% of women. And 43% percent of men prepared food or cleaned up after food preparation (a fancy way of saying "did the dishes"), compared with 70% of women. The cleaning gap is real, and it's depressing as hell.
So listen up, guys-who-don't-do-housework—enough is enough. In the words of J. Lo, we ain't your mama, and the extra burden is literally sucking the life out of us.
Just last week I wrote about new research revealing that women who worked 60 hours a week or more tripled their risk of diabetes, cancer, heart trouble, and arthritis—but the same risk was not found for men. A big factor came down to this "second shift" women pull. Too many men still clock in at the office and clock out at home, while women clock in at the office and clock in again at home. In other words, they're clocked in ALL THE TIME.
For anyone who argues that men simply work longer or harder at their jobs and that's why they can't be bothered to help out at home—well, they're wrong. According to the same Bureau of Labor stats, among full-time workers, in 2015, men worked 8.2 hours per day while women worked 7.8 hours per day. When you do the math, that difference comes out to 24 minutes—and that's saying nothing of the productivity and intensity of the actual work being done during those windows.
What about all the men who are sole breadwinners, some may ask? Well, most families don't rely on one income anymore. According to the Bureau of Labor, husbands were the sole income earner in only 19.8% of married families in 2015. Meanwhile, wives were the sole income earners in 7.1% of families, and nearly 50% of families consisted of a dual-income household. And according to data from the Pew Research Center, in families with children, the percentage of dual-income households is actually much higher—around 66%.
That means that nearly 7 in 10 households with kids have two people bringing home the bacon, yet women still take on the lion's share of the housework. WTF?
Plenty of men do contribute, of course, but it's not enough. And guys, this isn't just for the sake of women: Study after study has shown that couples who share housework also have more sex—and their marriages fare better as well.
Earlier this year a writer named Matthew Frey wrote an emotional piece for The Huffington Post titled "She divorced me because I left dishes by the sink," which was shared 28,000 times. In it, Frey concludes that not helping out around the house was a way of showing disrespect for his wife, since it sent the message that his time was more valuable than hers—and ultimately led to their divorce:
I remember my wife often saying how exhausting it was for her to have to tell me what to do all the time. It’s why the sexiest thing a man can say to his partner is “I got this,” and then take care of whatever needs taken care of. I always reasoned: “If you just tell me what you want me to do, I’ll gladly do it.” But she didn’t want to be my mother. She wanted to be my partner, and she wanted me to apply all of my intelligence and learning capabilities to the logistics of managing our lives and household … I wish I could remember what seemed so unreasonable to me about that at the time.
So, men-who-aren't-holding-your-weight, the next time you see a dish—wash it. Next time the laundry needs folding—fold it. No dinner on the table? Make it. Don't wait for your partner to assign you chores. Just do it—and I guarantee both your penis and your partner will thank you.
Taryn Hillin is Fusion's love and sex writer, with a large focus on the science of relationships. She also loves dogs, Bourbon barrel-aged beers and popcorn — not necessarily in that order.