The Economist Magazine recently ran a piece on the amount of housework men in America and the UK perform each week: one survey suggested American women spend on average an hour a day scrubbing, vacuuming and shopping, compared with barely 20 minutes for men.
Anecdotal evidence here in China suggests men do even less than their American counterparts. One high school student told me her father doesn’t do any housework. He is, though, a talented cook, she said – when he cooks. Nevertheless, the student’s mother’s cousin’s auntie does the cooking and cleaning and looking after the student’s two-year old brother…
Certainly, relatively cheap domestic help in China eases the burden of housecleaning. We ourselves have an ayi come in three mornings each week to help around the apartment. She looks after our son on occassion, too, when she’s on duty. Even I – despite having been raised by a mother who insisted her sons do housework – do enjoy relief from the most onerous chores, though the place still needs a proper cleaning at least once a month.
It was when our ayi recently took a health leave that I discovered my wife’s own abilities at housecleaning had atrophied somewhat. It was also during that time, I think, she was somewhat relieved I’m not a real-man in China.