Editorials

Househusbands on the rise

A recent survey conducted by the Kaji Kentei Jikko Iinkai (Housework Aptitude Test Association) reveals a great deal about the aspirations inside Japanese homes. Apparently, a surprisingly large number of married Japanese men — nearly 30 percent — would not mind being househusbands. This may not yet be a revolution in gender roles, but it involves more than just tidy homes!

The survey found that many men were already spending significant time doing traditionally “female” housework duties. In Hokkaido, men spent an average 54 minutes a day at housekeeping duties, while Tokyo men averaged 48.4 minutes. At the top, though, were Tokyo husbands in their 40s, who rack up an amazing 70 minutes of housework per day. That certainly gives a new spin to the old economic term “man-hour.”

This shift may result from more than economic necessity or increased female employment. Attitudes are clearly changing. Several popular TV shows in recent years have revolved around a male character taking over domestic duties while the wife works. The fact that 57 percent of people said they turn to the Internet for solutions to housework problems shows that better information resources for “housework-challenged” men help considerably, too. Women readers should bookmark those Web sites as soon as possible.

Men, too, should take note. Among women in their 20s, three-quarters prefer a husband who can do housework. Nearly the same percentage feels that the old idea of domestic training in preparation for married life is out of date. Even more strongly felt is the sentiment among women about cleaning — one-third say they hate it, pure and simple. With these feminine attitudes taking hold, men may have to help with shopping, laundry, cooking and other domestic chores out of domestic self-defense.

As amusing as the survey is, it does indicate important and substantial shifts in attitudes toward equality, roles and fairness. In the future, wives will continue to work more, establishing more flexible conceptions of what men and women can or should do. If so many men are already thinking that housework is not so bad, then it could mark the beginning of very broad social progress. Not to mention cleaner homes all over the country.