Start the conversation with Equal Partners

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Image courtesy of St. Martin's Press
Image courtesy of St. Martin's Press

EQUAL PARTNERS: IMPROVING GENDER EQUALITY AT HOME
KATE MANGINO
2022, St. Martin's Press
$29.99
344 pages


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 can worm your way out of it. Somebody else'll do it, so go sit down. Take a rest and read Equal Partners, and then ask yourself if you could have taken on another chore tonight.

Several years ago, the researchers reported on in this book finally acknowledged what generations of women in opposite-sex relationships already knew: that many working women are responsible for a "second shift" after 5 p.m. The first shift is the job, for which they receive a paycheck; the second, unpaid shift included making meals, straightening up, helping kids with schoolwork, and all the other things that need 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, perpetuated by "all genders."

Most often, Mangino says, even when we try our hardest to maintain equality in the home, women generally take responsibility for routine tasks and men take on the intermittent tasks." It's easy to slip into those roles; in fact, avoiding them takes real effort—although, interestingly enough, most same-sex couples do pretty well in "fifty-fifty equality."

Still, no matter what your domestic situation, Mangino has advice that can make your household a more equitable one.

First, know that things won't fix themselves. Do a "check-up" to determine where you stand on the equal-housework spectrum. Before launching into a life-altering event such as getting married, having a baby, or starting a business, know what questions to discuss with your partner so you're closest to an agreement. Mangino advises readers to remember that "women perpetuate sexism, too." Pick some role models, says Mangino, and be one, too. And finally, watch your words; they might need to be tweaked to reflect more mindfulness.

Flip through Equal Partners and if you're a straight or bisexual man, you may feel a little defensive. Author Kate Mangino generally sides with women on issues of housework. However, Mangino states that she's not showing bias; statistics confirm her points. Still, some readers may have a lot to overcome while 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—Mangino 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 (another reason to buy this book outright), and if you're still not quite convinced, there are interviews with dozens of happy people who have successfully changed their relationships into fairer ones.

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