The Men Who Sabotage Housework

E.E.W. Christman
5 min readDec 2, 2019

My laptop was busted. The IT guy in my office was sitting by my little desk, setting up my replacement computer. It was nearly Thanksgiving, so by the Unwritten Rules of Office Etiquette, he was required to ask me about my plans. To be polite, I asked about his in return.

“The wife does all the cooking, so it’ll be great for me.” He laughed, as if this was the greatest of jokes. I cringed. The wife. Reducing his romantic life-partner to a common noun who cooks robbed her of any semblance of personality or person-hood. The IT guy continued, undeterred: “I’m not allowed to cook anymore.” Not allowed, I thought.

Not allowed?

He then told me The Epic of the Green Bean Casserole, which can be boiled down to him putting two cups of salt into, yes, a green bean casserole. He then placed a ban on his own cooking at home, leaving all the food preparation to “the wife.” He never once referred to her by name.

This is a normal, non-lethal amount of salt.

The IT guy utilized a common tactic employed by many cishet men to avoid housework. By being purposefully inept, the woman in his life — a romantic partner in this case — felt forced to swoop in and take over. And for anyone out there who believes this was an honest mistake, I ask you to get out a measuring cup and fill it with salt twice, then imagine someone looking at that amount of salt and thinking, “Sure, seems right.” This isn’t a tiny mistake. This is a colossal fuck-up. Something easily avoidable with any amount of common sense.

For me, this story reads more like an alibi. “I don’t cook because I’m a hopeless wreck, not because I’m sexist in any way. Ask the wife!” And I’m not convinced. I’ve seen this tactic many times, and I know I’m not alone. I can’t count the number of women/femmes who have told me some iteration of, “When he cooks, he makes such a mess and I have to clean it up. It’s easier when he doesn’t cook at all.” This results in a huge work disparity.

Isn’t this socialization?

While it is certainly true that women are still socialized to be the caretakers of the home and often even feel protective of their chores in order to maintain a certain standard, and even draw personal value from completing household tasks, it is not this alone. Wholesale Domestic did a survey of 100 customers who identified as…

E.E.W. Christman

Writer. Fantasy, Horror, & Nonfiction. Queerdo. Nonbinary. HWA Member. They/Them.