The division of labour in household work is still an issue because men are not taking a more active role in the home

Samah Syed

Kristen Tole

February 11, 2015
University of Ottawa
Household labour is the work done in the household primarily by female members of the family. Domestic labour is unpaid labour, which most women do and are the traditional attitudes towards gender roles. The expectations of the division of labour in the household still exist in many South Asian family settings due to cultural influences and traditional practices, assuming this was the "norm" for them.
During the late nineteenth century, up until 1950's, the relationship between a husband and a wife could be described as male domination ("bread winner" or patriarchy) (Speakman 83). The father/husband was perceived as the definite head of the household; his needs, his value, and his viewpoint were always considered first (Speakman 83).
On the other hand, women were seen as inferior and spent their lives as mothers, looking after their children; as wives, looking after their husband, and as house wives, looking after the home (Speakman 84). The wife's role, that is the typical pattern of behavior expected of a wife, reflected the attitudes held about women at the time. These attitudes were basically that women were naturally inferior to men and should accept their authority (Speakman 84). However, it began to change, with greater emphasis on a more shared home life. The equality between husband and wife, sharing of domestic tasks, leisure time spent together with the family and greater pride in the home began to change (Speakman 85). However, in South Asian family lifestyles, stereotypical gender roles still exist. Domestic labour is still based on based on stereotypical gender roles as they predominate, which stereotypes show that women roles predominantly do domestic labor in the household (Speakman 83).
Generally, women still do the more "feminine" housework, while men still perform the "masculine" tasks ( Speakman 84). In a typical South Asian household, Indian husbands rule the household from their couches through most of their married an d child-rearing years ( Bhalla , 71), whereas women must take on the unpaid labour of maintaining the home for their family. Women do everyday domestic tasks unwillingly as their husbands virtually order [their] wive s around ( Bhalla , 77). Due to the cultural practices and norms in South Asian families, household labour is still divided unequally and married couple are okay with this sort of arrangement.
In my household, my family obtains a very old fashioned, traditional division of housework. My mother does all of the cooking and cleaning whereas my dad does the manual labour. Both of my parents work however, my father only works full-time. My mother is a part-time worker and does her work as home as she maintains the house at the same time. Due to the amount of hours my father works, he believes that it is my mother's responsibility to do the majority of housework. My father believes that a man should bring money for bread and butter, while a woman should do everything. Both of my parents believe that the division of labour in the household is equal to themselves because this is what they were influenced with when they were growing up back. Despite the fact that housework is divided unequally, some families (mine in particular) agree that this distribution of labor is simply what works best for their household.
A study done by Laura Sanchez and Emily W. Kane discusses how each spouse's time availability, resources, and gender ideology affect a married couples' division of housework. The dominant theme in this work suggested that the inevitable response to changing labor force participation and gender attitudes for most couples should be to become more equal in family work (Sanchez 358-359). According to their study, men and women should be working towards an equal division of household work; however, this is not necessarily the case (Sanchez 359-369). Another main point in this study was that men and women both find the division of housework unfair towards women (Sanchez 379). Despite the general consensus that the division of housework is unfair, little is being done to change the division (Sanchez 379). This study demonstrates how housework is divided and also shows that even