In the Loop

Hand your better half a broom

Posted at 5:20 PM on January 18, 2008 by Larissa Anderson (5 Comments)

Did anyone else grow up with Free to Be You and Me?

Does anyone else remember Rosie Grier singing "It's Alright to Cry" or Marlo Thomas and Mel Brooks deconstructing gender stereotypes

or, one of my favorites, "Housework" with Carol Channing?

Little boys, little girls, when you're big husbands and wives,
If you want all the days of your lives
To seem sunny as summer weather,
Make sure, when there's housework to do,
That you do it together!

Well, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center, it looks like Channing was onto something.

Married couples now rank "sharing household chores" as third important for a successful marriage, behind "faithfulness" (no shock there) and "happy sexual relationship."

The study says

Back in 1990, fewer than half (47%) of adults said sharing household chores was very important to a successful marriage. In the 17 years since then, no other item on the list has risen in importance nearly as much. And this rise has come all across the demographic landscape – among men as well as women, among marrieds as well as singles; among old as well as young.

The Pew study cites research from the University of Maryland that suggests in 2003, men were doing more than double the housework they did in 1965.

So, what's the deal? Are we all so busy working all the time that one person just can't possibly do all the chores? Have Carol Channing's Free to Be children grown up?

Someone get a banjo. Sounds to me like we're inching ever closer to a land where "you and me are free to be."


Comments (5)

I was raised on - not "Free to be You and Me" but close - "Free to be a Family". So I was fed a pretty steady diet of "you can do anything you want" and "go to college, do amazing things" and "men and women are equal" and all that jazz by my single divorced baby boomer mom. The thing is, while all that is true, I don't think it is the whole story. Yes, men and women are equal, but they are NOT the same. So while my husband and I do share the work, it tends to fall along gender lines and we like it that way. He deals with animal poop, I deal with kids poop. He mows the lawn, I vaccuum. He shovels the driveway, I mop the floor. When it is 100 degrees in the summer or 40 below in the winter I tend to think I got the better end of the deal, but hey - we are suited best to different things. The hubby is sooo not a good organizer and I dread having him clear the kitchen table because usually all my bills or whatever was on the table end up in totally weird places like in the dishwasher or the hall closet. I think the important thing though is that although I have my jobs and he has his, the line isn't electrified or anything. When I am having a tough or busy week, he will do dishes for me or straighten the livingroom (eeek! now where did my coasters go...) and when he is busy with overtime at work, I will get out in the yard and do the weed whipping myself. We share the work, even if we don't do it in the most "enlightened feminist" sort of way :-)

Posted by Elizabeth | January 21, 2008 7:50 PM


I sort of agree with much of what Elizabeth says above. However, my husband and I could not quite reconcile our very different domestic visions so we are now happily married living in separate (but equal) homes across the street from each other. He is the bossy oldest of eight children who likes things very tidy. I'm a messy artist type. We've been living as neighbors for 2-1/2 years now and it's the best marriage arrangement I've ever experienced :-)

Posted by Linda Lee | January 25, 2008 7:44 AM


Wow, Linda. You have chosen a unique solution! Sounds like something we can explore on In The Loop down the road :-)

Posted by Jeff Horwich | January 25, 2008 4:03 PM


Too funny - I was raised on "Free to be you and me" and "Free to be a family." We had the books and the music book and the record, I think. . .

Marlo's stuff included some very beautiful prose. I think that her work really contributed to my open-minded raising.

Posted by John Mark | January 29, 2008 8:55 PM


What interesting responses. First -- Linda Lee -- I'd love to hear more about your arrangment! Sounds like an interesting way to work out the differences. And, Free to Be a Family? I've never heard of this! A cursory google glance tells me Jon Bon Jovi is involved? Sounds like I missed out on something ...

Posted by Larissa Anderson | February 4, 2008 5:41 PM


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