You’re Fat Because You’re Not Scrubbing The Floors Like A Good 1960s Wife — And Irrationally Pissed About It
It’s no secret that we’re a big fat nation. Child obesity may be on the decline but what about the rest of us? Science continues to parse together where we went wrong, whether it’s fast food, our computer-fixated lives, or simply avoiding le gym. But in retracing America’s obesity problem and how it relates to women, researchers are fairly certain that a decline in housework has produced tubby ladies. Oh, but wait, don’t get all “irrational” about it!
The New York Times reports that there are “large reductions in energy expenditure,” according to Dr. Edward Archer, now that women aren’t keeping house like they used to:
Women, they found, once had been quite physically active around the house, spending, in 1965, an average of 25.7 hours a week cleaning, cooking and doing laundry. Those activities, whatever their social freight, required the expenditure of considerable energy. (The authors did not include child care time in their calculations, since the women’s diary entries related to child care were inconsistent and often overlapped those of other activities.) In general at that time, working women devoted somewhat fewer hours to housework, while those not employed outside the home spent more.
Forty-five years later, in 2010, things had changed dramatically. By then, the time-use diaries showed, women were spending an average of 13.3 hours per week on housework.
Additionally, modern women are also spending way more time sitting in front of screens (thanks for reading!). Back in 1965, ladies reportedly only spent around eight hours a week sitting and watching their “stories.” But as of 2010, we females are spending 16.5 hours in front of our screens. So we have “exchanged time spent in active pursuits, like vacuuming, for time spent being sedentary.”
The New York Times clarifies that they aren’t exactly leading crusade to get ladies back to scrubbing floors instead of living digitally enhanced lives:
What his study suggests, Dr. Archer continued, is that “we need to start finding ways to incorporate movement back into” the hours spent at home.
This does not mean, he said, that women — or men — should be doing more housework. For one thing, the effort involved is such activities today is less than it once was. Using modern, gliding vacuum cleaners is less taxing than struggling with the clunky, heavy machines once available, and thank goodness for that.
Yet, when women in the Twittersphere began to express discontent with a story framed as “What Housework Has To Do Waistlines,” à la How To Please Your Man AND Get Dinner On The Table 1960s Ladies’ Home Journal Style — Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan has to pull out the “irrational” women line. He posits, “How Much Irrational Anger Will Result From This Study Linking Women, Housework, and Physical Fitness?”
Noted feminist and author Jessica Valenti was one of the women in the “irrational” ladies-only Twitter roundup:
Like that’s not a loaded term to call a roundup of women. You just had to go for the irrational crazy hormonal woman adjective? Was “hysteria” unavailable? Because, you know, you can’t express discontent with the framing of a New York Times article without being a silly irrational woman! You silly gals just don’t read!