Let's Change the Terminology


We just had Mother's Day here in Australia and as usual we have men on television proudly suggesting that men and children need to help out their wives and mum's on this special day. Yes, everybody loves some extra help in doing the daily chores, or even a day off; but in 2018 when women are fighting louder than ever before for equality, is it time that we start to change the everyday terminology that harbors all sorts of expectations?

An example of this was a man who on television stated that he tries to be a 'good husband, not only on Mother's Day but throughout the year. He stated how he will often put on a load of washing on the weekend and proudly tell his wife of his efforts. However on reflection, he noted that while he was feeling good about his efforts, that in reality his wife would probably do another four or five loads after his one! While he spruked of his thoughtfulness, the idea of 'helping out' still implies that the work actually belongs to his wife.

So in fact his 'good dead' was really saying, that he is not an equal partner when it comes to cooking, washing, cleaning and shopping, commonly known as housework!

If he was, he would not be 'helping her out', but rather just doing his share! When many women go to work outside of the home just like their partners, then the work associated with running a household and child rearing surely has to be equally distributed between the two adult parties. In such a case helping out on Mother's day would imply doing the mother's work load as well as their own.

For women to have the energy to compete equally in all areas of life and work, this expectation and a change in our terminology needs to be happen now. That would mean that a women could face her weekend with the same level of enthusiasm and energy that her husband does. She would no longer be expected to do three jobs, employee, mother and housemaid. This idea of women's work at home was understandable when only men worked and women stayed home, ran the family and the household as her career; but as this is rarely the case anymore, our ideas on how this extra work is handled needs to be adapted.

In 2018, there are few, if any women who have never held down a job. It's not only expected by society that women should work, but in most cases it is an economic necessity to do so. Of course working also provides women with the opportunity to share and express their particular intelligence, talents and creativity to benefit herself as well as the world; who desperately needs a more balance contribution from both men and women.

Ask any women or honest man, who still does the lion's share of the housework and they will tell you it is the woman. If you need further convincing (I'm sure no woman does), the 2016 Australian Census found that women spend between five and 14 hours a week doing unpaid housework, while for the average man it is less than five hours a week! Also when a man and a women move in together, a women's housework time increases and a man's decreases, regardless of their employment status, and this only increases for women and the gap widens when children arrive.

The reality of the imbalance in workloads often lead women to engage in more part- time work, with Australia having some of the highest part-time workforce rates in the world, especially after children arrive. This of course has huge impact on women and children, when marriages breakdown and women can no longer afford to survive in an ever increasingly expensive world. Women while undertaking part time work in order to be everything to everybody, have forfeited their career opportunities and hence earning capacity and superannuation, so that when they are of retirement age, their is little option for many lower paid workers, but to live a life of poverty on the old age pension. The reality is that one in three women retire with nothing or next to nothing in their superannuation, often leaving them homeless when their income ceases, a partner is no longer there, their health is failing and housing for low income people is in very short supply.

The fact remains that women and men should be able to go to work or stay at home as they see fit or are financially able to, but in the end we need to be seen, spoken about and treated as equals. Not only equals in our careers, but also in our home lives as mother's and partners. True equality means that work, money, opportunity and responsibilities need to be seen as family work that should be divided equally and then given to the person most suited to the task. Terminology of 'helping out' your partner needs to disappear from our vernacular for good and be replaced with words that more clearly reflect our true equality as men and women.

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