Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Studying LesBians: Lesbians make housework fun

Studying lesBians is a monthly column about recent (and not so recent) research involving lesbians. This time I want to talk about studies into lesbian households.

A few weeks ago the results of a survey of part of the Australian population was published, which showed that same-sex couples (read lesbians, not enough male same-sex couples took part) are better at doing housework than straight couples. Or more precisely, they do a better job at dividing the labour.

Even though we live in 2011, in the household of straight couples the housework is unequally divided, with women doing most of it, even when both partners are equally busy with work and other responsibilities.

Not only do women tend to do more of the housework than men, the kind of chores they both do is also based on old-fashioned gender roles. Women usually do the cooking and the ironing, while men take out the garbage and mow the lawn.

According to the research of the Work, Love and Play research project at the Bouverie centre in Victoria, Australia, when it comes to lesbian households a totally different picture emerges. Apparently, we are much better at dividing the housework equally than our straight counter parts. Most lesbian couples in the survey said they had an equal division of chores.

It is interesting to note, that one of the reasons the researchers give for this is that lesbian moms compared to straight moms are less likely to think they should be doing more of the housework than their breadwinning partner. Does this imply that straight women are to blame for their workload, because they feel they have to do more than their husbands and not because men are just lazy, chauvinistic pigs?

Besides having a more equal division of the amount of housework both partners do, lesbian couples, compared to straight couples, are also not burdened by a division of chores based on gender roles and specific expectations. Instead, they decide who does what according to what they both like to do. Shocking, isn't it? I think it's even more shocking not more straight couples do it like that.

I find it very hard to believe all straight women enjoy cooking and cleaning and all straight men like to fix things around the house. When I look at how it works between my girlfriend and I, our distribution of the housework is mainly determined by what we like to do best. Or more correctly, what we hate least. Then again, I think a lot of the chores like cooking and doing the dishes we always do together.

The survey also showed that besides an equal division of the household, most lesbian couples also had an equal part in raising the kids and both mothers tended to work part time. So perhaps some of these differences between straight and lesbian couples are due to the fact lesbian couples both have as much time for housework.

I wonder if all this dividing things equally and fairly is something to do with lesbians or just because you put two women together. It's a shame the survey did not include enough gay male couples for comparison. That way we could see if it's a gay thing, or a male/female thing.

Although, of course, in an ideal world we would see none of this matters and everything is split equally based on what the other likes or dislikes to do. In this ideal world, housework would also be fun, just because we're lesbians. Unfortunately, I might only have to do half of the housework, but that does not mean I enjoy it anymore.

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What do you think of the results of this study, in particular the difference between straight and lesbian couples? How do you and your girlfriend decide who does what around the house? Let me know in the comments.

This post was first published on eurOut.

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