Men are being rewarded for doing the simplest of household tasks, and people on Twitter are so not here for it.
In 2019, it’s clear that we’ve come a long way when it comes to gender equality. Take a look back 10 or 20 years ago and a lot has changed: more women are working than ever before (71.8% of women aged 16–64 are employed, according to the ONS) and women currently outnumber men at universities across the UK.
But despite the cries of “we don’t need feminism anymore” and “women and men are equal, stop complaining,” there are still many areas of society in which women face different expectations to their male counterparts - one being the domestic sphere.
According to a 2016 report from the ONS, women continue to shoulder the majority of household work, carrying out, on average, 60% more unpaid work than men, and putting in double the proportion of unpaid work when it comes to cooking, childcare and housework. Now of course there are men who share the work with their partner, but there’s a considerable number who don’t do that. And although many of these men will contest that they’re willing to do their fair share of chores if they’re told what needs doing, that still means a large majority of women continue to shoulder the responsibility of knowing exactly what needs to be done and keeping tabs on everything from what’s in the fridge to when the laundry needs to be done.
And just when you thought you’d heard it all, Twitter swoops in to save the day. Forget women having to ask men to do seemingly obvious tasks like emptying an extremely full laundry basket — oh no, this sticker chart takes the ridiculousness one step further.
Titled with the words “Daddy’s Sticker Chart” in sickly sweet pink writing, the table of chores and stickers mimics the kind of thing parents use to get children to brush their teeth or make their bed. And the tasks on hand here are just as simplistic: the chart offers rewards for a grown man to do something like washing the dishes or even putting the toilet seat down.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the ‘rewards’ on offer are just as absurd. In return for cleaning up sick (presumably from one of the couple’s children) the woman offers a “BJ!!!”. Other rewards include “No nagging for a week,” and “1 get out of the dog house free card.”
There are (obviously) plenty of problems at play here. First and foremost, there’s the idea that a grown man should be treated like a child (and allowed to behave like one). On top of taking care of the children, the household and — I don’t know — their own lives, women should not have to shoulder the responsibility of their husband, too.
Secondly, we shouldn’t have to reward men for doing something women are commonly expected to get on with. A man doing the washing up is not an angelic, charitable act — it’s a grown-up contributing to a household they are also responsible for.
As is expected, Twitter had a few things to say about the worrying attitudes conveyed in the chart.
“You don’t get a prize for taking care of your own kids,” one user wrote. “Does mom get a chart? What are her prizes?”
“I’m a single father,” another reply read. “My sticker chart would look way different. And I’d get no prizes.”
As it turns out, the chart was originally created by Baby Sideburns, a parenting humour blog run by Karen Alpert - who maintains the chart was purely intended to be a joke and that the couple do not actually use such a system.
However, joke or not, the tweet has still started an important conversation about sharing the load when it comes to day-to-day household chores and childcare. And while 60% of unpaid work continues to be shouldered by women, the more people aware of that fact, the better.