March 4, 2013
Women Are Fat Because They Vacuum Less? I Don’t Know About That
A recent study by Edward Archer and his research team found that women spend less time on household management energy expenditure (or in other words, cooking, cleaning, dishes, and laundry). According to the Plos One publication, from 1965 to 2010, time allocated for household management decreased from 25.7 hours per a week to 13.3 hours. Correspondingly, women burned 666 calories per day doing household chores in 1965, but only 400 calories per a day in 2010 as explained in Health Magazine’s complementary article on Archer’s findings. In addition, women were also spending more time in front of screens for entertainment whether computer, television, tablet, or Smartphone.
All of the findings in Archer’s study are incredibly negative. First of all, the implication, whether purposeful or not, of these is that women should do more household chores in order to lose weight or prevent obesity. As the Daily Mail provided in their piece about the study, “Feminist and relationships expert Jean Hannah Edelstein said it was a ‘preposterous, sexist assumption’ to suggest that women should do more cleaning to slim down…She said: ‘It’s not like men are getting any thinner either – perhaps they should get off their behinds and do some more housework!’”
I can’t say that I disagree with her. She is right. This study seemingly has a very misogynistic basis. It blames obesity in women on the fact that they do less of the so-called “traditional” duties of women. For decades, women have fought for equality and balance, yet this study contends that fight has led to fatter women.
However, Archer clarified the study on CNN by saying, “’The premise of the study is that humans have engineered activity out of every domain of daily life … from the workplace to the home … but we are not suggesting that women should be doing more housework.’” Obviously, this study provides some data that shows that many have exchanged daily activity for computer and television time at the expense of their health. Archer understands that the findings might lead some to believe women should do more housework, but his focus is more on the fact that people are not as active. His quote shows that he simply wants to inspire people to incorporate more activity.
The next negative impact is the fact that though women are doing less housework—ideally because they are choosing to work or do not feel compelled to just do housework—they have not incorporated enough activity to compensate for the change in their routines. I like the fact that women are doing less housework (especially because of gender equality and balance), but I do not like that women are not as active. We must respect ourselves enough to treat our bodies right and be examples of good health, which means we must be active.
Much positive does come from these findings. One such positive is a bit circuitous. The argument that women are not as active because they complete less housework is a tad bit sexist, but it also could show that men and women now view household management more equally. Though Archer’s study did not identify that specifically, the results certainly allude to this at the very least.
Most importantly, this study should empower women to incorporate more activity in their lives. Perhaps that activity consists of walking around the block with the pets or taking the kids to the park and running around with them or even more conventional forms of activity like jogging, biking, dancing, or swimming; regardless, women must integrate more action in their lives.
For those who want to do their activity by cleaning the house, go for it. For others, myself included, we just need to make sure that we are more active on a daily basis. On one hand, I find this study incredibly demeaning, but on the other, I choose to find the good in it. I do not believe that doing more household chores and activities will make women thinner, but I do believe that more general activity paired with a healthy diet can only lead to a healthier America.
Image Credit: Photos.com