Although America has put advancements in place to become a society that embraces gender equality, modern-day households and work environments still fall short to foreign precedents in classical gender roles and expectations.
In a study called “The Second Shift,” experts observed that even in dual-income households with both spouses earning similar wages, American women still tended to bear the responsibilities of household upkeep and childcare more than their male spouses.
But does the division of labor fluctuate across various kinds of partnerships?
According to a study by Lawrence Kurdik, a scholar at Wright State University, same sex couples have a more equally divided division of labor compared to heterosexual couples and same sex partners see to household duties simply when they find it necessary, which is not common in heterosexual relationships.
Since gay and lesbian couples are partnering with those of their own sex, they must distribute labor on the basis of practicality and logic rather than gender norms and expectations. Opposite sex couples are generally more likely to fall subject to stereotypes within the traditional gender binary framework; most fit the outdated narrative of one partner assuming the role of breadwinner while the other partner claims homemaker status.
Although modern society has come a long away from these ideologies, leftover pieces of the classical gender-labor arrangement remain and affect the dynamic of working heterosexual spouses today. Recent data from the Census Bureau reveals that women earn more than their husbands in only a quarter of couples, proving traditional gender stigmas and biases still stick to the fabric of American culture.
Same sex couples do not tend to bend to any particular gender norm and consequently, without the limits of gender expectations, they may gravitate toward a more collaborative approach to earning wages and caring for the home.
Evidence revealing that same sex couples produce more equivocal incomes and balance similar work loads suggests that there is no inherent logic in the unequal division of labor seen in heterosexual relationships.
As many can already guess, a partnership with two equals is fully functional and arguably most efficient. If notions about gender roles are removed from a relationship, an equal divide of labor is more likely to exist.
Two therapists writing for The New York Times claim that marriages are more susceptible to instability when women earn more than their husbands and do not serve as the primary caretaker of the household. This is suggestively due to husbands’ insecurity in their displayed masculinity and inner conflict with how their gender role is being compromised when the woman makes more than them.
In same sex relationships, these dilemmas are not typically part of the experience. A more egalitarian system of partnership is substituted in place for the unbalanced labor arrangement seen in many heterosexual homes.
It is important that same sex couples are proven to divide labor more equally than heterosexual couples because the fairer the distribution of responsibility is perceived to be in a partnership, the greater the overall happiness of the relationship.
What does this tell us about the larger construct of gender inequality and bias? Not only is it unsound, outdated and impractical, but it is problematic in the homes of American couples.