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VOL. 46 | NO. 29 | Friday, July 22, 2022

A tough read for ‘partners’ not carrying their share

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

Print | Front Page | Email this story

Plates on one end, bowls on the other, glasses on top.

It’s your turn to load the dishwasher tonight, but if you plead ignorance on how it’s done properly, maybe you could worm your way out of it. Somebody else will do it, so go sit down. Take a rest and read “Equal Partners” by Kate Mangino, then ask yourself if you could’ve assumed another chore tonight.

Several years ago, researchers finally acknowledged what generations of women already knew: Many working women were responsible for a “second shift” after 5 p.m. The first shift was the job for which they received a paycheck. The second shift included making meals, straightening up, schoolwork help and all the other things that needed doing at home.

Researchers also noted that the “second shift” is detrimental to men and boys. Mangino says that such gender inequality happens around the world, restricting everyone and perpetuated by “all genders.”

Most often, she says, even when we try our hardest to maintain equality in the home, women generally take responsibility for “routine tasks” and men take “intermittent tasks.” It’s easy to slip into those roles, and avoiding them takes real effort – although, interestingly enough, most same-sex couples do pretty well in “50-50 equality.”

“Equal Partners: Improving Gender Equality at Home”

By Kate Mangino

c.2022, St. Martin’s Press

$29.99

344 pages

Still, no matter what your domestic situation, there are always improvements to seize that can make your household a more equitable.

First, know that things won’t fix themselves. Do a “gender checkup” to determine where you stand in your household and on the equal-housework spectrum. Before launching into a life-altering event such as marriage, having a baby or starting a business, know what questions to discuss with your partner so you’re closest to an agreement. Remember that “women perpetuate sexism, too” and that men generally have “four motivational themes” for their actions. Pick some role models and be one, too. And finally, watch your words. They might need to be “tweaked” to reflect more mindfulness.

Men flipping through “Equal Partners” might feel a little defensive. Mangino seems to side with women on issues of home work, but she vows that she’s not showing bias, that statistics confirm her points.

Still, some readers may have a lot to overcome before reading this book about overcoming inequality at home.

Fortunately, Mangino shows why this is absolutely worth doing.

Through pages and pages of stories – some that may have you thinking Mangino was peeking in your kitchen window – she systematically lays out how things get to be how they are and what actions couples can take. There are quizzes to tackle and places for notes (a reason to buy this book outright), and if you’re still not quite convinced, there are happy interviews with dozens of people for whom satisfaction lies in change.

Though it’s not without a little abrasiveness, “Equal Partners” is a good conversation starter for fixing the status quo in your relationship status, regardless of what it is. Find this book, and add another thing to your plate.

Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of business books are read in more than 260 publications in the U.S. and Canada.

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