Despite More Female Breadwinners, “Second Shift” is Still a Thing
1:30 pm, June 28th | by Colette McIntyre
Hey, remember when we discovered that four in ten mothers are the top earners in their households, a new record? (For a little context: back in 1960, the number was closer to 1 in 10.) And we were all, “That’s so great! We’re getting closer to gender parity! Women are becoming more educated and earning higher salaries; let’s all go get some margaritas and make fun of the patriarchy because we deserve it”? And remember when quickly thereafter, because WE CAN’T HAVE ANYTHING NICE, all these asshats came out of the (FOX) woodwork and were shouting about how more women breadwinners leads to hurting families, hurting science, more abortions, and more high school dropouts? And we were like, “Seriously, dudes? We still haven’t shed this outdated thinking about gender norms and parenting? Female breadwinners HURT SCIENCE because Dad burns all the pancakes and forgets everyone’s Go-Gurt? And let’s not even talk about single-parent households or gay relationships or any other “non-traditional” family because you’ll probably just explode…”? Well, as it turns out, those indignant set-in-their-partiarchical-neoconservative-ways folks had no reason to worry; you see, even though more women are their household’s primary earners, they are still expected to complete all the domestic tasks. The ol’ second shift hasn’t gone anywhere.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual American Time Use survey is an examination of how Americans spend a given week’s 168 hours. The new edition, released Thursday, determined that while more women are out-earning their partners, they are also out-cleaning and out-cooking them, too:
On an average day, 82 percent of women and 65 percent of men spent some time doing household activities such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial and other household management.
On the days they did household activities, women spent an average of 2.6 hours on such activities, while men spent 2.0 hours.
On an average day, 20 percent of men did housework–such as cleaning or doing laundry–compared with 48 percent of women. Thirty-nine percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 65 percent of women.
As ThinkProgress notes, these numbers are identical to last year’s results. So few things have changed; women’s ambition and successes are being tempered by stereotypical gender ideas and expectations. Evidently, society can tolerate — but just barely — a glass ceiling-busting woman as long as she performs her other “roles” of caregiver/domestic goddess and shows proper deference and submission in the household.
So what do we call this rage-inducing tomfoolery? The Second Second Shift? Second Shift With a Vengeance?