Don’t Marry a Man Who Doesn’t Vacuum

Women beware: Nearly half of American men still want a housewife

Jessica Valenti
Published in
4 min readFeb 13, 2020
Man looking at family while cleaning carpet with vacuum cleaner in living room
Photo: Maskot/Getty Images

OfOf all the things young women are taught in order to prepare for their future, there’s one crucial piece of advice that’s so often lacking: If you are straight, don’t even think about getting married before knowing that your future husband will do his fair share of housework. I’m serious.

It may feel like a given — we’ve made so much progress on gender equality! — or an issue that you can work out and divvy up once you’re living together in wedded bliss. But the truth is that the domestic gender gap is one of the only areas where Americans haven’t moved forward significantly. In fact, we’re losing ground, and women are paying the price.

A new survey from Gallup not only shows that women continue to do the vast majority of domestic work and childcare, but that younger married couples were just as likely as their older counterparts to have an unequal division of labor at home. Which means a new generation of men — those 18–34, according to the survey — may have more feminist political values, but that they aren’t translating those beliefs to their own lives and homes.

In fact, over the last few decades, men’s attitudes toward gender roles at home have only gotten more regressive. Research by the nonprofit Council on Contemporary Families showed that while 83% of men in 1994 rejected the idea that the best family dynamic was one where the man worked and the woman stayed at home, that number had fallen to 55% by 2014. That means nearly half of American men want a housewife, despite broad support for equality in other areas of women’s lives.

At some point, you have to look at your husband and ask yourself if you really want to be cleaning up after this person for the next 30 years.

This tracks with what I’ve seen among a lot of my married friends, and heard from young women when I go speak at feminist events. While men might not necessarily say a woman’s “place is in the home,” they will say “she’s better at it,” or “she just cares about cleanliness more.” There’s an understanding that it’s no longer…



Jessica Valenti
Writer for

Feminist author & columnist. Native NYer, pasta enthusiast.