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The amount of time men spend on housework stopped growing some time in the 1980s. (THINKSTOCK)
The amount of time men spend on housework stopped growing some time in the 1980s. (THINKSTOCK)

THE CONVERSATION

This week’s Talking Point – gender and housework – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

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What’s ahead for 2014?

If 2013 was a who-smoked-what, who-spent-what, who knew-what roller-coaster, what will the coming year look like?

Tell us who, what or where will define the next 12 months and why you think so. We’ll publish a section of responses in the Focus section.

letters@globeandmail.com or go here

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TALKING POINT

Men, wrote Margaret Wente, don’t do dishes. When it comes to women’s deepest feelings about an orderly home, guys ‘just don’t get it.’ Readers, print and digital – including her husband – step up to the plate on gender’s role in housework

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Re Why Men (Still) Don’t Do Dishes (Dec. 10): As I write this, I have already made my son’s breakfast and lunch, dropped him off at school, done some yard work, made carrot/orange/ginger soup from scratch, roasted a lemon/thyme chicken with balsamic mixed peppers, finished folding and putting away the laundry I started yesterday and swept the floors. This was all before noon.

Later, after I pick up my son from school and then swimming class, we will go for haircuts. I will then head off to work for nine hours.

There is not a dirty dish or dust bunny to be found, but according to Margaret Wente, “when it comes to the fundamentals,” being male, I “just don’t get it.”

Charles Veysey, Toronto

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Reading Margaret Wente’s col-umn while making dinner, filling the dishwasher and switching the laundry. Myself and the Y-chromosome got home at the same time. He is currently playing with his iPhone.

Sara Hamilton, Aurora, Ont.

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What an old-fashioned notion. My husband is completely self-sufficient in all manner of household duties.

Betty Palen, Winnipeg

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I am a man and I do dishes; I recommend all men give it a try. Dishwashing can be therapeutic. It can also be training for cleaning the mess in society as the task needs patience and good hands. There are no genes for doing dishes.

I also clean the house, although if it were left to me to decide, I’d do it every other week instead of every week. A house is supposed to look a bit messy, it’s not a museum. And a too-clean house can be bad for our children. Doctors tell us that not being exposed to enough germs can impede developing immunity to micro-organisms. This is good news for men who don’t like housecleaning. There are no genes for housecleaning, either.

To paraphrase, the problem is not in our genes, it is in us. We are not able to face the facts and see through the thick layers of our cultural creations – religion, music, child-rearing, education, entertainment, clothing, jewellery, the makeup industry – and realize that the gender differences in power, position and achievements are man-made and are maintained through patriarchy. They can be made to disappear within a couple of generations if we so decide.

Rama Singh, professor of biology, McMaster University, Hamilton

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I can suggest at least two reasons why men may not be doing their fair share of the housework. First, I suspect that many have tried, and they have not met the standards of their spouses, so the women do it instead. Second, I suggest that when men do these chores, they demonstrate that they are neither very taxing, nor oppressive, depriving their spouses of something to complain about. Women will not let go of the thing they wish to complain about.

What are the stats on women servicing the snowblower?

Bruce Parsons, Portugal Cove, Nfld.

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If women want more from male partners at home, they have to expect more. If women are always willing to do it for them, why would they do more? I wouldn’t. That’d just be silly!

Donna Duke, Kelowna, B.C.

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Maybe men have a point. Maybe dust bunnies are not important in the scheme of things.

As a stay-at-home husband who does 90 per cent of the cleaning and cooking (and outdoor work), I get a bit tired of the kind of female stereotype Margaret Wente seems intent on perpetuating.

Luke Mastin, Toronto

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I’ll do dishes when my wife does mice.

George A. James, Port Hope, Ont.

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Margaret Wente’s column on men who won’t clean up after themselves reminds me of a story told by Edith Iglauer in her book Fishing With John.

John, a West Coast commercial salmon fisherman (and later her husband) interviewed two young men who were hoping to land a job as his summer deckhand. At the end of the interview, the first candidate got up, leaving his dirty coffee cup on the table. The second carried his cup to the sink to rinse it.

Guess which one he hired?

Ms. Wente should have done the same with her men – before committing to marriage. To suggest that because her husband leaves a dirty cereal bowl on the counter, men lack the clean gene is absurd.

Rob Dykstra, West Vancouver, B.C.

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Margaret Wente’s column contains a factual error. I should know, as I am married to this lovely, talented columnist. She states that I often leave my cereal bowl on the counter to gather a nice hard crust. True enough, but she has the reason wrong.

She says she used to think I did it to drive her insane, but now she “knows” it’s because I don’t see the point of putting it in the dishwasher. In fact, I do leave it out to drive her insane. I find it keeps our marriage fresh.

Ian McLeod, Toronto

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ON REFLECTION More letters to the editor

File it under ‘re-election’

Re Ottawa Feared Canada Post Losses Would Affect Budget (Dec. 13): Puzzled by Canada Post’s “business plan”?

The Conservatives’ suburban voters already have community post boxes, and rural Conservatives will continue to get their mail delivered.

Plus the Conservative government will be able to stick it to those damned unions and latte-sipping urbanites. The Harper government has only one policy: re-election.

John Donkin, Ottawa

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About that headline

Re Pension Costs Force End To Home Delivery (Dec. 12): What’s with this headline? Why not: “Internet forces end to home delivery”? Or “Inept management forces end to home delivery.”

Or my favourite: “Government failure to properly fund and oversee essential service disadvantages small businesses, seniors and the disabled. Bay Street licks its lips in anticipation of sell-off.” A bit long for a headline, but closer to the truth.

Paul Ledoux, Toronto

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Tolls versus taxes

In the U.S. cities where I lived, tolls were commonplace on certain major highways and bridges to ensure the shortest route (Wynne To Run On Transit Taxes – Dec. 13).

While tolls didn’t always guarantee a congestion-free drive, they most certainly guaranteed that those who used the infrastructure paid for the privilege. Conversely, a general “transit enhancement” gas tax penalizes everyone who doesn’t use it.

If politicians think tolls are unpopular, just wait until they feel the backlash from “un-users” hit with an extra gas tax.

Ted Chivers, Unionville, Ont.

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Have I got a cake for you

Re My Lonesome Love Of Christmas Cake (Life, Dec. 10): As a Jewish boy growing up in the North End of Winnipeg, I never learned the cultural tradition of not liking fruitcake. My non-Jewish friends would foist it on us, not knowing that we didn’t know we weren’t supposed to like it.

I have passed on the love of this particular seasonal treat to one of my daughters; it is my pleasure to demolish one of these cakes over the holiday season, throwing diet to the wind every year.

Merry Christmas.

Eric Mendelsohn, Toronto

 

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