Mothers Day? Fathers Day? Life Insurance Day!

// 16 June 2009

Tags: , , , , , ,

I was recently alerted to a Just-in-time-for-Fathers-Day article about some research for Legal and General from brand strategy and research company BDifferent (I know… alarm bells already). It highlights an increase in the amount of work men do around the house. Apparently, out of the thousand parents questioned in January this year, the men said they spent an average of 53 hours a week carrying out household chores and childcare. This was an increase from just 34 hours a week in 2005. My initial assessment was that this is obviously a step in the right direction but meaningless in terms of gauging equality when the recent reports don’t mention how much the women in the research said they did in comparison.

Alan Ferguson, protection marketing and channel development director at Legal and General (you can see where this is heading) has been quoted saying “Mums often get the headlines when it comes to domestic work”. Funnily enough, I didn’t need to look very far to find those “headlines” because it turns out the very same research (albeit with emphasis on a different part of the results) was doing the rounds just-in-time-for-Mothers-Day back in March. I’m not going to link to a load of sites devoted to helping people spend more money but, just like the more recent articles extolling the “value of Dad”, there is a major emphasis in these March articles on the calculated value of the domestic work Mums do. This, in turn, leads to heavy hints about how important it is for these unsung home heroes to purchase life insurance.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised about this. I realise it’s just the kind of thing one can expect from big companies busily finding new and innovative ways to get more money out of us. I just think it leaves a rather sour taste when this is a piece of research that presents itself as being about relationships between people and therefore surely leads the reader to consider its social value and take it seriously. Added later: Also, doesn’t all this look like a rather cynical and patronising attempt to exploit the tawdry so-called “battle of the sexes” for financial gain? It seems Legal and General were framing March as Time for the Ladies to Realise their Worth and now, in June, have politely nudged the media to conveniently forget and hide all the data used for that angle so the guys are more likely to reach into their pockets during their “special” time.

Still, there are some interesting observations to be made when gathering together the information in the articles from June along with the ones from March. For a start, it looks like the gap between the women and men in the study, in terms of hours spent on domestic chores, closes much more when the men are compared with the full-time working women (53 hours on average compared with 55). However, there doesn’t seem to be any breakdown anywhere of the men’s employment status so like can be compared with like. I wonder why? Were only full-time working men included? Or, worse still, did they only bother to ask the women about their outside hours, while the men were simply assumed to be full-timers?

Comments From You

Qubit // Posted 17 June 2009 at 8:29 pm

That averages at about 7/8 hours a day for both men and women. While I can see this would be possible if you have children. This is very close to both men and women having really minimum leisure time assuming full time is 8hrs a day, 5 days a week and you are awake for 16hrs a day. I can’t see how a couple without children can spend a combined 108 hrs a week on keeping the house.

Sarah // Posted 18 June 2009 at 11:21 am

I agree with Qubit that the amount of time sounds implausible for anyone who works full time. I am out of the house for 11-12 hours on a work day (and I don’t even work particularly long hours, or have such a long commute as many people I know). If I then came home and did housework for 7 hours, I wouldn’t get to bed until about 3 in the morning, and would only get 4 hours sleep, and that’s even before you factor in time to eat dinner and spend time with your partner/children or whatever social life or leisure interests you might have. Possibly the average is skewed by people doing more at the weekend, but you’d have to spend a serious proportion of your weekend doing housework to get the weekly average so high.

Either people are seriously overstating the time they spend on household chores, or someone has made an error with the statistics. I wonder how they define ‘household chores’ – i.e. does it include childcare? If so then I can see the stats might be skewed by the full-time parents who are ‘on-duty’ in terms of childcare pretty much around the clock. I don’t like to see looking after children (or indeed any humans) classified as a ‘household chore’ though.

Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds