The “Woke” Men Who Still Want Housewives
Men who claim to believe in equality often aren’t willing to live it
Before my husband, Andrew, and I got married, he was in a book club made up mostly of progressive men. In one meeting, after reading about the disproportionate work women do in taking care of children and elderly parents, all the men strongly agreed how horrific it is that the United States lacked paid maternity leave and adequate equal pay legislation.
But when Andrew asked these left-leaning men how many would be willing to have a spouse who didn’t do the majority of domestic and care work, a silence came over the room.
There is a big difference between believing in equality and being willing to live it — especially for men.
A new study, relying on data spanning four decades, shows that while we should be mostly optimistic about how Americans’ attitudes on gender are progressing — there is broad support for equality between men and women — there is still a major gap in how people reconcile their political beliefs with their private lives.
Twenty-five percent of the people surveyed said that while women and men should be equal in the public sphere, they believed women should do the majority of domestic work and childcare. This lines up with the progress gap American women face in the domestic sphere; we’ve made inroads in almost every area but our own homes.
Sexist beliefs about innate ability, even when they come from otherwise progressive men, are a cop-out masquerading as an ideological position.
While this is a tremendous number of people admitting something quite troubling about women, work, and power, it’s unlikely that they see it as sexist.
“You can believe men and women have truly different natural tendencies and skills, that women are better nurturers and caretakers, and still believe women should have equal rights in the labor force,” Barbara Risman, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois and one of the paper’s co-authors, told the New York Times.