on the Household Division of Labor

I’ve been thinking about this a little bit because Lin and I have straight couple friends who are married, and lesbian couple friends who have been together a long time, but have a very hetero-gendered (homonormative) relationship. In all of these households, the woman or the “femme” woman does all of the housework – the cleaning, the cooking, etc. Lin and I don’t identify as butch/femme. However, if one of us were to wear a dress, it would be me. If one of us were to dress in flannel and hiking boots, it most certainly would be Lin. Barring costume parties, of course. In fact, she was wearing plaid flannel and doc martens the other day – and I couldn’t help but laugh at it. She did, too, so I suppose it was okay.

But, at our home, we conceptualize this whole thing differently. This is on my mind because right now, she’s preparing to vacumn the living room with a 1950s hoover and has already cleaned our kitchen this morning. I rarely do housework. However, I rarely do housework not because I’m incapable of it (I’m not) or because I hate it (I do hate it, though), but because we both have jobs and I have school. So, we consider grad school my second full-time job and then her second full-time job becomes the household duties. I help sometimes, but it’s not required of me right now… and she’s fine with that. Sometimes, especially when I PMS, I have a cleaning urge and I go on binges of scrubbing the kitchen floor on my hands and knees (christmas eve) or re-organizing our entire closet and bedroom and bathroom (Just before Christmas eve).

But, we don’t have any dominant idea of who should be responsible for the housework. Ideally, we would split it equally. Though, we would do this based on our strengths. Lin is not a good cook. I’m great at it. So, I do the cooking when we don’t want spaghetti and meatballs or anything else that can be cooked in one pot. Though, she has gotten good at putting some chicken and veggies in a pan and roasting them together. She’s also good at making omelets for breakfast – and toast – she’s exceptionally good at toast. I hate working in the yard, but she loves gardening and is great with a weedwhacker. We don’t have much of a mowable yard (it’s sloped ridiculously), so we only have to use a weedwhacker to handle the grass we have. The front yard is a terraced garden, so she weeds it when the weather’s nice. But that’s the kind of thing she likes. I hate spiders and bugs and anything that crawls, so I’m not a fan of being in the garden like that. I help when I feel like it and other times, I leave it alone. We grew basil one year and eggplant, and I kept those up (watering with the hose), but other than that, I avoid bugs at all costs.

I keep wondering, though – should we have figured things out this way? Is this a right way of looking at things? Is graduate school really a second job for me? Could I have time to do housework? Should I make time to do housework? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but they bug me sometimes. I feel lazy when I’m sitting in a chair reading or writing papers while she vacumns or washes dishes. But I’m working, I suppose. And, she says it’s okay… we worked this thing out together, so it must be a correct way of doing things…

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Comments
One Response to “on the Household Division of Labor”
  1. sublimefemme says:

    There’s no correct way of making these arrangements–it’s all about what works for you. It sounds like you have a wonderful partner and relationship. Congratulations! And yes, graduate school is really a second job. Best of luck with your studies.

    SF

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