Kathleen Parker

Even so, they will never meet my standards. If they do, they'll need behavioral therapy and medication.

Exceptions exist, obviously, but studies that seek to quantify household performance as a way of measuring gender equality often miss confounding factors. If men aren't doing what women traditionally have done to the same extent women do, then men are viewed as having failed the goal of an equitable world.

But who decides what is an adequate expenditure of time and energy for a given task?

The University of Michigan researchers asked men and women to keep a housework journal, recording how much time they spent on chores. Wanna bet women are better at this, too? Here's a clue.

Before PDAs, organized people had Day-Timer books. Men had little tiny ones that fit in their pocket. Women carried hefty volumes with subject dividers, calendars and shopping lists.

Who do you think was better at recording housework?

Other research, meanwhile, has confirmed that our attempt to make men and women equally domesticated will likely fail. Steven E. Rhoads, public policy professor at the University of Virginia and author of "Taking Sex Differences Seriously," studied professor couples, figuring they were the most likely to seek perfect equality in the home.

Wrong. Men simply weren't as interested in housework as women were and women "simply like child care more than men," the study's authors concluded.

None of which means we shouldn't try harder to be considerate. In dual-career families, sharing housework is logical, fair and ultimately rewarding. Hint: Foreplay to a woman is watching a man take out the trash.

But some things will never be exactly equal until men and women are exactly the same. When that happens, we will doubtless be tidier -- and living alone.


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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