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Should men be forced by law to do half the housework?



"In the Netherlands, if you have a baby there's no-one to help you..."
Kerstin Schweighoefer, correspondent of the German news magazine Focus

"I do think that roles are changing but if it's happening on its own why should the law intervene in that?"
Carlo di Blasio, Italian journalist


Click here to listen to both sides of the debate
Listen to our debate hosted by Laurence Zavriew. Do you agree with the views of our contributors?

Background ¦ Your reaction ¦ Listen to the debate

The Background:

The Austrian parliament will shortly be considering a draft law designed to compensate women after a divorce if their former husbands never helped them with the housework.

Talking Point - Europewide
Last week the German Green Party went even further, demanding a new law to make couples share the chores fifty-fifty if both partners were at work. The German paper Bild said a third of German women did all the housework on their own.

Academics here in Britain talked of reversing what they called the "Allerednic effect" - that's "Cinderella" backwards - in which a prince marries a princess and turns her into a scullery-maid.

So is it time for men to clean up their act? Or should the lawmakers leave it all well alone?

Joining Laurence Zavriew for the Europewide debate are from Rome the Italian journalist Carlo di Blasio, and in the Netherlands Kerstin Schweighoefer, correspondent of the German news magazine Focus.

Background ¦ Your reaction ¦ Listen to the debate

Your Reaction:

Men shouldn't be forced to work by law as if they work hard day in day out earning most of the money it's not fair to ask him to do housework!! But if he lazes about all day his wife and not the law should nicely ask him to help out, and if he loves her enough he will. SIMPLE AS THAT NO LAW NEED BE INVOLVED!!!!!!
Alex, UK

No you can't legislate on such matters, but it's certainly about time men changed their attitudes voluntarily and did their fair share around the house when both partners work full time. Several studies have shown that women who work full time still do on average around 10-16 hours more work around the house per week than men (including traditional 'men's housework' like gardening and DIY), which means sixteen hours less free to spend in activities of their own choosing. Housework isn't a choice (unless you're very well off, and let's face it, how many people can afford a cleaner?)! What a bogus argument - for heaven's sake, basic cleanliness, hygiene and the need to eat are essentials, not an optional extra!
Caroline, UK

I work 45 hours per week. My wife works an average of 8. Her contribution to domestic harmony is to look after the home during the 37 hours that she is in it and I am not. When she starts to work full time my contribution will increase proportionally. This is called marriage and the EEC should keep their grubby foreign snouts out of it! They waste quite enough of my hard earned cash as it is.
Jeff Dray, England

To legislate this by law is absolutely ridiculous. It works both ways. There are some women that should be legislated to do half of the housework.
Len Lear, Canada

How on earth are the 'authorities' going to find out? Mrs Schmidt has a toot on with her hubby and demands that the police arrest him for not doing the ironing! I would have thought that the police forces across Europe have enough on their plates without having to pander to the demands of an allegedly hard done-by woman.
Just for the record, I don't mind doing the washing, hanging it out, doing the dishes or even throwing the hoover around the house but I definitely don't do ironing - I'm not allowed to!
Andy Soper-Hall, Hayle, Cornwall, UK

Such things should be a matter of negotiation between partners in a marriage, certainly not a matter for law. Under English law a woman's material contribution to a family is considered as part of a divorce settlement, much as the Austrian law hopes to achieve. Beyond that there is little that anyone should or can do.
Konrad Higgins, England

And then what? We arrest them when they don't? I'm sure that is exactly what this world needs...more people in jail...We don't have enough time to track down and catch the rapists and the murderers running around on the loose, but by gosh, we'll catch those men that don't do half the housework!!!
Lida Aris, USA

If this debate ever seriously gets into Europe, then we know it's time to leave. Europe already wastes lots of our money on rubbish, this would take the biscuit. Any ladies that dislike the amount their other halves do, tell them. If they don't change, leave them. If you're not willing to do that then shut up.
Stephen, England

What kind of stupid law is this! This is the reason all these Western European countries economies are going down the toilet, too many laws. This is absurd, since when is it the governments responsibility to make sure husbands to their housework. If women are upset at their husband or boyfriend, they should tell them or dump them, not have the police enforce a stupid law. What is the world coming to.
Jan Klass

The major problem here is that coercion is not the most effective way to change attitudes and behaviour. In fact it may entrench us men in our worst habits and attitudes! I am a man, and in our home I do the lions share of the housework because my wife works extremely long hours. I would not want to see her forced by law to do more than she does. However, I would also expect to teach my children, male and female, to take responsibility for themselves in the home. If men do not do housework, it is because we have been brought up with these attitudes by our parents' generation. We will only change attitudes if model something different for our children. Enforcing that in law will, I fear make this job harder.
Steve Founch, UK

The thing is, is that women are house proud and blokes aren't - ie we have lower standards of what needs to be done. I'm happy to leave the plates in the dishwasher but my wife wants me to put them in the cupboard. The whole idea of this is a complete joke. But if a law comes in it should include women having to do oil changes, lugging furniture when moving house, making sure my Land Rover is in tip-top condition, opening doors for men, buying a round of drinks, working down the pit. I mean this is what equality is all about - being equal, not what is best for women.
Peter Brophy, USA

This is something that should be worked out between the couples, not something that should be a concern of the government. No nation with a law mandating who does the housework and how much of it they do can call themselves a free nation.
Richard T Ketchum, USA

The government should not meddle in the family.
Mike Walters, USA

It's a good idea. Only a law will force that pathetic lazy creature called a "man" to look after his environment. I should know - I'm male. Most of my male friends pretend they do the work, but when I ask their wives, it is apparent how little their men really bother doing. But why can't women be more assertive and insist?
Simeon Hope, UK

I think it both a pathetic and unrealistic suggestion that men should by law do housework. Just another area for government control eh? Are we going to need permission to go to the toilet next? It is absolutely ridiculous. I have never believed in 'the woman's place is in the home'. It becomes more apparent when you have to foot the bill for everything and are left struggling. We should be living in times of equality and I do more than my share of housework, work and parenthood. We all have a responsibility in whatever we do. I for one will not stand around and let a government decide what I can or cannot do under my own roof which I have to pay for NOT the government.
Jason, UK

How terribly European ... thank goodness I'm British and live in America! If the Europeans really want to do something positive, make English their one and only "official" language ... then we can REALLY express our opinion of what we think about their stupid ideas; I wouldn't want them to be in the least bit confused!
Mark M. Newdick, USA

Does this mean the houses of lesbian couples will only be half as tidy as those of heterosexuals, as there is no man to do his share?
Paul, England

I think such a law would be wonderful. I have a fulltime job and my husband has recently become unemployed but still he refuses to do any housework. I'm sure that as he is a law abiding man if the government told him to do half he would.
Annie Middleton, England

When women earn as much as men then they can expect equal shares in the housework, but until then they should make up for their lack of earning power by working harder in the house.
Ian Hopgood, UK

No-one forces women to do more housework. The idea that women are powerless to stop their men turning them into scullery-maids is ridiculous. In my experience women tend to place higher priority on housework being done than men do. They do more because it is more important to them than it is to men. If this wasn't the case, then women could just refuse to do the housework, and the men would have to do it. Of course the truth is the men would be content to do much less than the women, and the women would be dissatisfied with the result. Women know this, that's why they do it themselves!
C Rhode, UK

Of course men should do half the housework if their wives also work full time outside the home. And of course there should be no law compelling them to do so. Of course, this law also compels those married women (probably a small minority) who don't pull their weight around the house to do half the work. It's all quite absurd. This is the sort of lawmaking nonsense that gave rise to the phrase 'legislating morality.' How would such a law even be enforced? How would it be proven in divorce court to the satisfaction of a fair-minded trier-of-fact? The Greens of Germany seem intent on proving to everyone that they are not ready for government. Not ready by a long shot.
Rath Andor, USA

If men were forced by law to do half the housework, they'd just make a point of doing it so badly that women ended up doing twice as much.
G Martin, UK

There's a reason the United States rules the world, and it's because your sissy European ex-Great Powers pass laws telling people how to act in their own homes. Of course a woman should do all the housework, both before and after divorce.
Brian Pickrell, USA

What a stupid idea. Only a fascist country could possibly have a law that said what people should do in their own homes. Typical of the Europeans.
William Palfreman, UK

It would be no bad thing for husbands to do more housework, but we should not invite the authorities to micromanage our lives. As adults, we should be able to negotiate such things for ourselves.
Kit, UK

Men and women are different. I find it unfathomable that any man would want to do half the house work so why should we let a bunch of stocking-wearing Eurocrats impose this view on us? I'm all in favour of equal opportunities in the work place but at home women must work harder.
Ian Darby, UK

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