Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

'My boyfriend doesn't care about housework, so is it fair that I do most of it?'

housework feminism.jpg

Ask A Feminist is Stylist.co.uk's new column answering your questions on feminism, sexism and womanhood in a real-life, 21st Century context. Send your dilemmas to stories@stylist.co.uk and we'll get one of our brilliant panel of feminists to cast a discerning eye on the issue at hand. 

This week's question:

"I like things to be tidy and clean but my boyfriend doesn’t care, so is it fair that I do the lion’s share of the housework?"

Victoria Joy

Feminist Victoria Joy says:

"I'm going to start by answering a question with another question. Does your boyfriend have you sing lullabies to lull him to sleep or suckle at your teet multiple times a day?

Let's stick with no - a fair guess - based on the assumptions that he's not an infant and you're not his primary caregiver. 

So why in the name of Shake N Vac should you be picking up his slack when it comes to the housework? 

The most recent research on the division of household chores found that shock - men still do less than women, and bigger shock - they still pull the incompetence card.

Please lads; until females are born wearing marigolds and males without, I'm calling bullshit on your argument that the fairer sex are 'better' at scrubbing skillet pans.

Do you know why your boyfriend doesn't care about things being clean and tidy? Because he doesn't have to.

There's no reason for him to step within a foot of the Mr Muscle because you've been there, done that, buffed the bedside cabinet so hard he can see his own knowing smirk in it.


Decades after the birth of feminism, women are still doing most of the housework

It's human nature to do the minimum possible to get by/impress others/guarantee sex tonight, so you can't really blame him for not wrestling the iron out of your hand and demanding you binge on Netflix instead.

What usually happens in your relationship when one person cares about something and the other doesn't, be it eating out at good restaurants, spending time with your parents or Better Call Saul?

You compromise.

You suck it up, because while it doesn't mean that much to you, the person you love can't sleep for thinking about it. You need to tell your boyfriend that as much as you like things to be clean and tidy, you don't actually like to clean and tidy. Big difference.

Ideally, you now feel so empowered that you'll go, iPad in hand, to educate your other half on these powerful arguments for an equal division of household labour. That would be awesome - maybe he'll even tell his mates and word will spread.

But, and it saddens me to admit it, what you're probably better off doing is just hiring a cleaner to give both of you a break from cleaning and simmering resentment. It worked wonders for my relationship.

How do you and your partner divide household chores? Is gender equality in this area a realistic prospect or are we better off leaving men to the bins and light-bulbs while we tackle the washing up? Is it ambitious to hope for a fair balance, or ridiculous to aim for anything but?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below



"I didn't call out a sexist comment, am I a bad feminist"


The kick-ass women who scored a goal for the sisterhood in 2014


How Kim Kardashian West became a global modern icon


Beyonce on feminism, conflict and letting go


Time magazine proposes to ban the word “feminist”; good idea?


Why women in music should put their bottoms away


“Why Liar is proof that TV's depiction of rape is damaging to women”

The proliferation of rape in TV and film is a real problem for the representation of women

by Harriet Hall
17 Oct 2017

“We should all be angry that Laura Kuenssberg needs a bodyguard”

The BBC's political editor needs protection because of misogyny, pure and simple

by Ellie Mae O’Hagan
25 Sep 2017

“Proposals for women-only carriages are ignorant and retrogressive”

"Why not create a women-only nation state and solve the problem altogether?"

by Harriet Hall
24 Aug 2017

Why Taylor Swift’s sexual assault verdict is a victory for womankind

The pop star has completely changed the narrative

by Kayleigh Dray
16 Aug 2017

“The Boots morning after pill scandal shows the bias of contraception”

Why are women burdened with the responsibility of procuring and taking contraception?

by Jasmine Andersson
26 Jul 2017

“How pathetic sexists tried to tear down the first female Doctor Who”

Misogynists are terrified of Jodie Whittaker and everything she represents

by Kayleigh Dray
17 Jul 2017

“Love Island is proof that 'nice' is feminism's secret weapon”

Harriet Minter says it’s time we dispel the myth that being a feminist means taking no prisoners.

14 Jul 2017

“Rob Kardashian’s social media rampage isn’t funny. It’s revenge porn”

The Kardashian brother posted nude photos of his ex all over Instagram. This is abuse, not entertainment

by Moya Crockett
06 Jul 2017

“Why women are all beauty pageant contestants to Donald Trump”

“I bet she treats you well”

by Anna Pollitt
28 Jun 2017

“How sexists missed the point of this pivotal Handmaid’s Tale scene”

Offred was just getting her tits out for the lads, apparently

by Kayleigh Dray
26 Jun 2017