On gendering childhood chores

It was the headline that made lazy teens worldwide shudder: Spain is to introduce a law forcing children to do chores, as The Guardian reports:images-1

“Now, if you’re thinking it seems more than a little heavy-handed to legally codify the responsibilities of under-18s in private households, then I agree, but check your liberal sensibilities for just a moment. There’s a surprisingly progressive detail in the Rights and Duties of Children Bill that’s worth noting: the “co-responsibility in caring for the home and performing household tasks” shall be carried out “regardless of… gender”.

“Hurrah! Reading the sex equality provision for these put-upon kids made me cheer, because its opposite has such dire consequences: gender inequality in childhood leads to stultified, ill-equipped adults.

“Its effects have certainly been noticeable to me. While my own household was fairly progressive, many of my friends, both male and female, were inculcated with gender stereotypes inside their homes from a young age.I can remember the visceral, fist-clenching resentment I felt whenever I alone was asked to cook and lay the table, while a young male friend was allowed to continue watching telly, or, at a push, was asked to zoom around the garden with a mower or wield a drill.

“The “male” tasks always seemed so much more fun. More sporadic too: John might be asked to fill up the log basket by the fire once a week, but Jane was expected in the kitchen every evening. Continue reading “On gendering childhood chores”