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A history of housework strikes

Maleficent-Credit202 isn’t the only person trying to get paid for housework. Women have been advocating to get paid for their house- and childcare-work for decades.

On Oct. 24, 1975, Icelandic women held a “Women’s Day Off” demonstration, according to the BBC. Roughly 90% of women didn’t go to work, didn’t perform household chores and didn’t participate in child-rearing that day.

The economy went into a standstill. Factories, schools, banks and some shops couldn’t open without their female employees. Workplaces had to set up temporary child care spaces to accommodate men bringing their kids into work, since they had no one to leave them with.

The Women’s Day Off paid off — even all these years later. Iceland has closed the gender gap by 91.2%, the highest of all countries ranked by the World Economic Forum. But they still have a long way to go: The Guardian reported that Icelandic women still make 21% less than men, on average.

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The cost of housework

Though Maleficent-Credit202 doesn’t reveal their gender in the Reddit post, many commenters point out that their husband’s annoyance about the cleaning service seemed sexist.

“I'm sorry; you both work demanding jobs — yours sometimes requiring you to travel — but you should be taking care of the housework?” one commenter wrote. “Why? Because you're the wife?”

OECD data said that American women spend nearly double the amount of time on unpaid labor a day than men. The average woman spends 271.3 minutes (about 4.5 hours) on tasks such as cleaning and child-rearing, whereas American men only spend 165.8 minutes a day (about 2.75 hours).

The New York Times calculated that women would have made $1.5 trillion for their unpaid labor in 2019 if they’d been paid for it.

You can calculate this in your own home: Using the same methodology as the New York Times, multiply the minimum wage by the approximate monthly hours that each of you cook, clean, care for kids and anything else that’s considered unpaid labor.

You may discover that you or your spouse contribute a great amount of time to the household.

What’s a waste of money?

Maleficent-Credit202 said that they often get into fights with their partner over the state of the house. Maleficent-Credit202 thought they were fixing the problem by throwing extra money at it. But their husband felt differently.

Not talking about your money mindset with your partner can put your marriage — and your finances — in a bad place.

Bread Financial discovered in a recent survey that 41% of people wish their partner had a similar financial mindset to them.

Differing money philosophies can lead to embarrassment and secrecy over spending. In fact, 48% of respondents in the Bread Financial survey admitted to committing financial infidelity — which can be a dealbreaker for many.

As one commenter wrote on the Maleficent-Credit202’s thread: “You make more than enough money to pay for cleaning services. Tell him to look at it this way: it's way cheaper than marriage counseling or divorce.”


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About the Author

Sabina Wex

Sabina Wex


Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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