Listen up, men, because we women have got a bone to pick with you. We work all day in order for you to have all the fancy, often pointless things that you desire, only to come home to hear your constant nagging and complaining. Can't a woman crack open a beer before you start going off about dirty dishes and vacuuming?
Look, we're not in the 1970s anymore. Women are working full-time jobs in addition to taking care of children and ensuring that your high school trophy collection is perfectly dusted. We understand and appreciate that you're trying to help out, but we're going to need you to cool it with the complaining.
Think I'm being dramatic? Think again. According to new research gathered from the White House's Economic Report of the President, men are reporting higher levels of work-family related conflicts than women than ever before.
The increase in unhappiness is likely linked to the fact that more women are active in the workforce, therefore expecting their husbands to share the responsibilities of household chores and childcare. Mother Jones points out that between "1977-2008, female participation in the workforce went up only about 11 percentage points," while the percent of women who reported work-family conflict only increased by six points. On the other hand, men report a whopping 25 point increase. What's the matter, men? Can't handle a little shared responsibility?
While it's true that the amount of men "are doing more than twice the childcare and housework they did in the 1960s," it also appears that men are looking for more recognition for their work from their spouses than women are seeking. Perhaps this is because women are used to performing multiple roles as wife, mother, housekeeper, and worker than men. Or perhaps it's just because men like hearing their own voices.
Whatever the case may be, I can't help but want to scream: "What's wrong, honey? Are you on your period or something?" As someone who is neither a wife nor a mother, I've heard my fair share of PMS comments from men who just can't seem to understand that my occasional gripes come from being a human with stress rather than normal hormonal fluctuations. It's time to shut these stereotypical comments down and examine actual stressors, but are men ready?
The New York Times reports that one of the problems men are now facing more than ever is the pressure from work to not be stressed about family issues and to focus more on their work tasks. After examining a study conducted by Boston College called "The New Dad," the New York Times concluded "that new fathers face a subtle bias in the workplace, which fails to recognize their stepped-up family responsibilities and presumes that they will be largely unaffected by children."
This expectation shows a strong lack of emotional empathy from employers who can't understand why fatherhood would sometimes be taxing on male employees. However, it also seems to indicate that workplaces are more sympathetic to mothers, which, while partially true, isn't reflected in maternal leave, paid-time off allowances, and the overall treatment of female employees.
According to The Atlantic, "the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received nearly 5,000 complaints from new moms"”a 30 percent increase from the previous decade," in 2006 alone. Research by sociologist Shelley Correll found that "mothers are more heavily scrutinized than both women without children and men with or without children," and that "motherhood results in biased evaluations of both competence and commitment to a job," even if they "do the exact same work as those without children."
It's no mystery that women are paid less than men, even when they're performing the same tasks. Add pay inequality to all of life's other pressures, and you'd think women would be more likely to complain than men.
Bureau of Labor Statistics / Vox
The truth is, adult life can be frustrating. We've all got stress from work-related expectations, mundane tasks (such as scheduling dental appointments and taking care of car maintenance), and household duties (whether it's taking out the trash or dealing with roommate issues). Add marriage and a family on top of those pre-existing stressors, and it's no wonder people are reporting higher levels of unhappiness.
Everyone has the right to vent, but I'm guessing these problems would start to diminish if men and women talked to each other about their issues instead of complaining anonymously in national surveys. No more period jokes or finger pointing "” just real, adult conversations about how to make life at home less stressful than it is in the office. And yes, that means men will have to be willing to acknowledge their wives as equally hard-working and competent individuals as they view themselves.
Now put on your big girl panties and get to work.