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RECENTLY in the gender gap – a conflict story from everyday life

Updated: 3 days ago

Men have recently shown themselves to be competent at washing dishes and doing laundry. At least that is what the advertising would have us believe. At the same time, 72% of housework in Austria is still done by women. At least when it comes to the marketing of rinse aid, the previously strong sex is on the rise and fighting for equality between the sexes. So there is hope: the new generation of men is paving the way for women to have a bright future... Find out here why I, as a new grandfather, am critical of the development of the gender gap:

RECENTLY in the gender gap – a conflict story from everyday life
RECENTLY in the gender gap – a conflict story from everyday life

It happened just last weekend: A family with two children, two sons aged 8 and 11, are visiting us. I am standing in the kitchen with the older son, let's call him Simon, and I want to tidy up a bit. Simon asks if he can help. I am delighted by his willingness to help and agree to his request to fill the dishwasher with the dirty coffee dishes. The young man's goodwill unexpectedly leads to a tiny gap in his knowledge - he puts the cups in the basket with the opening facing upwards. Have you ever seen this before? UP. The placement of the plates on the lower level of the sink resembles an expressionist sculpture from Julian Schnabel's late work (google Plate Painting). I almost had it cast in acrylic. At first I suspect it's a joke, but after he asks where the cutlery should be placed, I realize that Simon has probably never loaded or unloaded a dishwasher before. Which he freely confirms. This guy will surely become something big one day (quantum physicist, influencer or conceptual artist, who knows), but he certainly won't be a useful household helper.

Please don't think that Simon's family doesn't have a dishwasher. The kitchen has every convenience. Simon himself is quite talented: he already puts together Lego pieces for the 18+ age group, but he probably needs a bit of development when it comes to housework. Why this is the case is something that hordes of social workers, politicians and Snow White have now tried to figure out in terms of managing the household of the 7 dwarves:

Try talking to parents about this or similar circumstances. They usually react with a flinch. Have you noticed this before? Either with a violent shrug of the shoulders or with delight in their voice: "He's just a boy." This reflex usually comes from the child's mother, who the next day was nagging her own husband to show more initiative in the kitchen. What is actually being expressed here, and what is in no way contradictory, is that men are just like that: a "real man" has other advantages, regardless of what advertising wants to convey to us in its socio-political mission.

Just last week, the Standard newspaper reported on the religious affiliation of children in Vienna's primary schools. At 35%, Islam is the most strongly represented religious community. Subtly, it is made clear that the conservative attitudes of Muslims (e.g. towards women) have an impact on society. I do not want to deny that either. However, this incident shows that traditional behavior patterns are not necessarily related to religious affiliation, but simply to the fact that boys and girls are still treated differently in our Central European society. One almost wants to ask the responsible city school board to set up household management as a subject for boys, with the compulsory exercise "Logistics and economics of water-carrying household helpers". I am sure that this would lead to more applied democracy in Austrian families. Let us now compare Simon with Lisa. She is our neighbor's granddaughter. Not even 1.5 years old, just able to walk around independently, one of her favorite toys is the broom from Grandma's cleaning cupboard. It would never occur to anyone to rob a little girl of the insignia of her future housework. And that is not the point. The question is rather why boys do not see a dishwasher as an object from a parallel world.

Which brings us to important questions for future coexistence in society: if gay couples have a dishwasher, will they be allowed to apply for a disability allowance? Do lesbian couples have an unfair advantage in using it and should they pay tax for it? Questions upon questions. In fact, the gender twilight shows little light on the horizon. The radio station Ö3 recently carried out its youth study. To promote the study, a jingle was played all over the country with the statement of a young man who "can imagine doing half the housework." IMAGINE. What does he need for that? Perhaps instructions for using a dishwasher to color in by numbers? Can you imagine that the same man, when asked whether he would still be playing football when he was 40, would say: "Football? Yes, I can imagine that." The study also paints a frightening picture of a youth who would increasingly want to retreat into their own four walls in the future. I wonder how that is supposed to work without knowing how to operate a dishwasher.

You may be thinking that none of this really concerns me. Well, I have been a grandfather to a delightful granddaughter for almost three months. Of course I wonder what her life will be like. I would like to teach her to enjoy cooking and to learn principles such as order and cleanliness. Yes, I think that these are still useful. But not at the price of her meeting a "real man". That is a conflict.

Only recently I came across the following claim, which would certainly contribute to resolving the conflict:

Statement on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls.
Statement on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls. Source:

Oh yes: If you now say: "That is certainly not the case with me!", then put it to the test: let your son put the expensive family china through a gentle cycle in the dishwasher. And please no excuses. No, children do not believe that dishwasher tablets are fresheners - so the risk is manageable, especially if it is a 30-year-old nestling.

By the way, did you know that Lego addresses the child in men with its own 18+ range? For a reasonable 459 euros, men can now build the tower from Lord of the Rings. The Danish company only produces kitchen utensils in typical girl's colors for 6+. Conflict barometer

The conflict barometer is a non-scientific attempt to evaluate conflict situations. Depending on the severity, up to three sticks of dynamite or doves of peace can be awarded. As small as the incident at the dishwasher is, it addresses one of the major conflicts of our time:

People involved: 🧨🧨🧨

Escalation: 🧨🧨

Relevance: 🧨🧨🧨

Possible empathy: 🕊️🕊️🕊️

Solution options: 🕊️🕊️🕊️

Achievable compromise: 🕊️🕊️🕊️

With this series, the author wants to encourage reflection on conflicts that arise in everyday life. He knows how to operate a dishwasher and only allows himself to use satire when dealing with personal conflicts.

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