Put on a few pounds recently? Best get busy with the vacuum cleaner then — it’s a lack of housework that’s to blame.
At least that’s the suggestion from a recent study into how the lives of Brits today compare to 30 years ago. The European Economic Association’s annual conference in Mannheim, Germany heard that women are spending more time at work and less time doing housework, reported the Daily Mail.
As if this in itself wasn’t shocking enough (who else is amazed that a woman’s life in 2015 is a little different to how it was in 1985?), it was reported that our aversion to household chores is actually causing us to gain weight.
The report comes from researchers at Manchester University and Royal Holloway, University of London, who used government data to compile information on calorie counts and exercise levels.
Now I wasn’t at the EEA conference. Nor have I seen the report, which I’m sure is extremely detailed. Therefore it’s easy enough to put two (the average female spends almost 20 percent less time on chores than her counterpart in the early 1980s) and two (at the start of the 1980s the average 5 foot 3 inches British woman weighed 10 stone but by 2008 that had grown to 11 stone 2 pounds) together and get a whole bunch of misogynistic crap.
Couldn’t it be possible that today’s average woman is heavier because she eats more? Exercises less? Should she be made to feel guilty because she just doesn’t give a damn about mopping the kitchen floor and would rather sit on her backside watching EastEnders with a large bar of Dairy Milk?
Couldn’t it be possible that her husband does the lion’s share of the household chores because he stays home to look after the kids and she works 10-hour days in the office?
“The study might have a serious point about how changes in our lifestyle do mean we are becoming more obese,” said Alys Mumford, from Scottish feminist organisation Engender. “But [these] sensationalist headlines do more harm than good. They distract from working out better ways to live healthy lives in the modern age and instead rely on stereotypes that come straight from the 1950s.”
The U.K. has the biggest obesity problem in Western Europe, with one in four adults being obese, and it is feared that the figure could be one in two by 2050.
So there’s no denying that far too many people aren’t active enough to keep their weight within a healthy, safe range — the study showed that the average Brit spends a mere 11.5 minutes a day playing sport.
But to suggest that women should revert to some kind of 1950s housewife, spending hours scrubbing surfaces and washing clothes by hand to burn off more calories, is ludicrous. It’s no surprise that women have taken to social media to express their disgust at how the findings have been interpreted.
By the way, men are doing slightly more around the house than they did in the past but the average male belly is bigger than it was in the 1980s. Go figure.