We love celebrating the great dads in the world, but let’s not do it by hating on moms and telling lies
Father’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to say thanks to the best dads in our lives — by writing them cards, showering them with gifts, and celebrating them at get-togethers. But one guy, Ross Douthat at the New York Times, thought the holiday was a great opportunity to tell everyone that even though dads do less housework, they still do more than moms overall, and we shouldn’t forget it.
It was a pretty bad idea.
Like a bad idea on the level of “straight pride parade” and the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad.
On Father’s Day, the honor of dads must be defended, says @DouthatNYT. Yes, fathers spend less time doing household chores. But when you add up housework, paid work and childcare, married fathers today are doing even more than their fair share. https://t.co/aY7cIYX96U
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) June 16, 2019
The opinion piece, called, “Can Dads Have It All?” published on Father’s Day even though we can’t imagine the paper didn’t get better pitches, and even though we assume that someone there read it and fact checked it before it published? It also features a man wearing a baby and folding laundry at the same time — we assume the mom in this family is somewhere drinking.
The article begins with Douthat admitting that he gets more credit in his own role as a father than his wife does, and also that women do do more chores than dads. And then he says this:
“Yes, fathers still do much less work around the house than moms, even when both spouses hold down paying jobs. But as Robert VerBruggen points out in an essay for the Institute of Family Studies, “The Myth of the ‘Lazy’ Father,” when you add up housework, paid work and child care, married fathers today are doing slightly more work than married mothers.”
He then says that “the current division is actually a reasonable balance.”
He also says — we hope you’re sitting down — that there’d be way less of a childcare problem if we weren’t so afraid to let our kids play outside alone.
After yelling swears into our pillows for a bit, but not for too long, because we have to wash the dishes, we have a few things to say about his thoughts.
First of all, the research he links to sucks. It’s published by the Institute for Family Studies, a conservative think tank that’s run by a troubling collection of people involved in anti-LGBT activity and funded by places that fight against same-sex rights. In other words: it’s openly biased. Not exactly where you want to collect your facts.
The research he links also says that on average, dads do one hour less of work per week than moms — but it doesn’t include a huge number of tasks that you absolutely should, such as grocery shopping (which — what is grocery shopping? A recreational activity?) The study also admits that men get much more “leisure time” to themselves, which leaves women in a spot where they’re not recorded as either working or having leisure time (maybe they’re grocery shopping?). Bottom line: the study is garbage and tells us nothing because it wasn’t conducted well.
Next, there are shitloads of studies that have found just how worked to the bone working moms (and moms overall) are in comparison to men.
Here’re some good numbers left in the comments section:
ILO - “Data from 2/3 of world’s working age pop. show that 16.4 billion hrs per day spent in unpaid care work... Were such services to be valued on basis of hourly minimum wage, they would amount to 9%of global GDP...women do 76.2 % of total hours of unpaid care, 3X more than men— Cicely McWilliam (@CicelyMcWilliam) June 16, 2019
Next, this article in no way addresses the wage gap between men and women, and now that affects our decisions about who works out of the home and how household work is divided. It also doesn’t address that men are much more likely to be promoted and have executive-level jobs — because of sexism. In other words, men are in a provider role more often because our entire society and culture pushes us in that direction.
The piece also doesn’t even scratch the surface of emotional labor or the mental load that many mothers are burdened with all day every day — if you’re not sure what those words mean, ask your husband what your kids’ shoe size is, or the last time they volunteered in the classroom, or even what their damn birthday is. Moms are much more likely to take on tasks that are completely invisible to fathers — and often dads don’t think they’re important, or they just don’t know they exist.
And anyone who thinks the enormous issue of the child care crisis in the United States has to do with not letting Susie go to the park alone is a freaking idiot who has never had to sit down and calculate whether it’s even worth it for a mom to go back to work because childcare is so expensive (even though childcare workers are woefully underpaid).
Also — maybe it’s just a bad idea to try to mansplain to women that we aren’t doing enough? Especially maybe on Father’s Day?
Anyway, the internet wasn’t having it at all, from celebrities to men and women who are just trying their best to make the world (and the home) a better, more positive, more just, happier place for everyone.
I know we make fun of him, but I really hope Ross Douthat finally gets the respect of his wife, a mop tied to the top of a roomba— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) June 16, 2019
Surely there was someone somewhere at the newspaper who could have said "Ross we're not publishing this, it's pitiful"?— Dr Fran van Plannaram Ph.D. (@dismalplaces) June 16, 2019
Peak subtweeting is defending your usefulness to your wife in the @nytopinion pages.— Alex Fisch (@AlexFischCC) June 16, 2019
This is not backed by any data (mothers have increased childcare and housework as they’ve added careers, and if they didn’t take a pay hit for being mothers would contrib even more). But more to the point, this is the sort of tit for tat whiny bullshit that leads to nowhere.— Amy Westervelt (@amywestervelt) June 16, 2019
As a white male dad, I feel constantly dishonored. Thank u Ross 4 your bravery.— Farmer Jones (@thefarmerjones) June 16, 2019
This isn’t the first time that Ross Douthat has written something terrible, like this homophobic stuff.
We suggest you don’t even click on it. One reader had a better option.