I believe equality in the household is a sentiment and not a number. Two parents may divide up hours of housework and childcare exactly even and still not be equals. A true sense of equality in the household begins with a simple acknowledgement – that you are my partner – and a fundamental, mutual drive towards an agreed-upon goal. Certainly, this is easier said than done; in fact, reaching an absolute equilibrium may be extremely difficult. A vast amount of implicit respect for one’s partner is essential for a “shared” system to work. Lisa Belkin writes about a couple who uses a computer chart to help them adhere to their “shared parenting” plan (Belkin 7). While concrete measures like this are undoubtedly helpful in sticking to any goal, in no way is it a guarantee of equal dedication to tasks or respect for the other. Factors that affect this sense of respect do not just exist within the household or the relationship; they are largely societal. Katrin Bennhold points to increasing cases of “daddy leave” in Sweden as proof of greater equality in the household. However, I think the bigger force at play here is the tacit, growing acceptance of men’s doing domestic work – a growing legitimization of parenting as real labor and as both a man and a woman’s duty. While societal biases and stereotypes are a huge hindrance in the quest for domestic equality, it can certainly be achieved. True equality, though, cannot be measured.
Belkin, Lisa. “When Mom and Dad Share It All.” New York Times Magazine. The New York Times, 15 June 2008. Web.
Bennhold, Katrin. “In Sweden, Men Can Have It All.” NYTimes. The New York Times, 9 June 2010. Web.