Skip to content

An idea, sure, but it is the correct one?

The real reason men don’t do the housework
University of Cambridge academics believe men and women perceive what they see in different ways, dubbed the ‘affordance theory’

Could be true, could be. Of course they insist it’s all about socialisation and the idea that it’s capitalism to blame can’t be far behind.

Women do most of the chores around the home because men do not see mess in the same way, University of Cambridge academics believe.

While men will look at a pile of dishes in the sink or crumbs on the counter as a mess, women view it as a job in need of doing and feel an urge to do so.

This comes from a deep-rooted social training which wires the brains of men and women differently from a young age, it is thought.

Females are instilled with an instinctive urge to tidy if they see clutter, whereas men never get this compulsion and are therefore able to look at a pile of laundry in a messy room without feeling a need to fix it.

This, the philosophers say, leads to a “Catch-22” situation where a woman is trapped between doing the chores as soon as possible and also ensuring she is not solely shouldering the domestic burden.

Well, if it’s instinctive then it’s not socialised into them. It’s instinctive.

But we can get to the same place with instinct. Assume at least some gender difference. Humans, like other mammals, are not tabulae rasae (?). Some part of our behaviour is that interaction of genes and hormones. So, the hunter gatherer split, the make a nest and the go out of it to return triumphantly bit. So, make a nest bit. More worried about sweeping the dust out of the corner of the cave. Shrug.

At least this leads to the possibility of a grand theory. For it would also explain why women know the difference between taupe and magenta. Will discuss that difference for hours when considering the living room walls. Will give us a guide as to why the furniture layout takes hours to figure out back to the original placings.

Build a nest is part of the make a woman kit.

21 thoughts on “An idea, sure, but it is the correct one?”

  1. My wife considers my habit of covering every available flat surface with research papers and books as messy but will ignore the fact she’s left the kitchen work smeared surfaces with Marmite/peanut butter/curry sauce. I’m the opposite. It’s just one of those things one adapts to after 40 years together.

    [If you can’t tell the difference between taupe and magenta, get your colour vision tested. Burgundy and magenta, I’d agree.]

  2. Well, my wife has given up saying “Can’t you see that it’s messy?”
    And I have never expected her to fix a dripping tap or loose skirting board.
    I don’t know how we were indoctrinated that way.

  3. Who on earth colours their living room wall in taupe and/or magenta? Of course when the revolution comes it’ll be magnolia and like it. Emulsion Paint Factory No 5 produces nothing else.

  4. TG @ 8.56, I’m with Mr Youdontwanttodothat: “You want Misty Buff, Oak Funnel, Mint Sunrise”.

    I’ve always done housework – being the youngest earning pocket money by irining my brothers clobber, when married all the regular, household chores type stuff.
    My daughter in law has little concept of tidiness or cleaning the kitchen and my son (who has a similar level of CDO to myself) justs grins and bears it…..

  5. With everyone co-habitating before marriage these days, women have no excuse for not knowing what their husbands are like. Or do men suddenly turn into slobs as soon as the ring slips onto the finger?

  6. And yet – in my experience some women (my sister) are the messiest, untidiest creatures on Earth and some men fussy and obsessively tidy.

    Bell curve?

    So it’s OK to stereotype as long as the target, such as White, male, heterosexual, conservative, is not on the protected species list and is on the fair-game list.

  7. Otto- that’s the real point. Forget woman vs man. It’s more like someone who likes things just so vs someone whose revealed preference say ‘not so much’.

  8. …women have no excuse for not knowing what their husbands are like…

    Women get married believing that their husbands will change…..and they don’t.

    Men get married believing that their wives won’t change…..and they do.


  9. It’s not that I can’t tell the difference between taupe and magenta it’s that I don’t even know what they are. Creams, blues, greens, what?

  10. As a single man, living on my own, I aspire to be a two dishwasher household. One for dirty, one for clean, with eating being the intermediate stage between the two. At the moment I have to make do with one, but I will get there eventually.

  11. …wires the brains of men and women differently from a young age, it is thought. Females are instilled with an instinctive urge to tidy if they see clutter…

    Not young enough, if you could see the floor of my 10 year old daughter’s room.

  12. I do know one thing. I always tried to hire female decorators. The guys leave many more snags. They don’t see the bits they’ve missed until pointed out. Women are far, far better. They hardly leave any. I suspect there’s a difference in the way the two perceive the world.

  13. Could it be that men tend to spend more time earning the money. While the women’s special skill of having a baby and feeding it milk causes them to stay home and do domestic stuff in the non childcare gaps.
    Teamwork makes the dream work and all that.

    A bit of dusting seems like a fine trade off for not working 12 hour shifts on a building site.

  14. As someone married to a nurse they worked 12 hour shifts you just go stuff done as needed, so she’d usually do laundry days she was off and I was in work as it could wait until then. More immediate stuff like washing dishes depended on her schedule as to who did it

  15. Bloody academics! Its not that men don’t do housework. Its that the male and female definition of housework is somewhat different!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *