After ceding control, may 2011 be the year of the meat chunk

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 30, 2010; 10:44 PM

Ramen noodles cooked in a cup, no matter how hot they are, will not heat up the canned stew dumped on top of them.

This I learned on one of the first dates with the man who would become my husband.

"How sweet - he's going to cook for me," I told my friend before heading to his apartment.

Then that ramen/stew concoction appeared on my paper plate. Oh.

Thus, I became the family cook for about two decades.

He never did the BBQ dude thing, or declared himself grillmaster or joined other man friends as they compared the size of their gumbo pots. He was always satisfied with bellying up to the table and eating whatever I had to offer without complaint. Whenever left to fend for himself, he foraged at establishments that allowed him to dine without leaving his car.

And this is how it went until about three weeks ago, when my husband suddenly announced he would be cooking the family dinner for the rest of the year in an effort to lighten my load.

I should have been delighted, right? But instead of embracing this seismic shift, I found myself struggling to abdicate control. And I'm hardly the first woman who has had difficulty doing so.

Women are CEOs, diplomats and bounty hunters, yet we still do most of the housework after we get home and take off the high heels or gun belt. It is the great plateau that feminism has reached - greater parity in the workplace, yet a Fred Flintstone-sized chasm of inequality on the homefront.

I know you are out there, housedudes. You men who actually do an equal or substantial share of the housework and child care. But the fact is, you are as rare as a Redskins winning season.

Most of us resemble what the Bureau of Labor Statistics found in its American Time Use Survey last year:

"On an average day, 20 percent of men did housework - such as cleaning or doing laundry - compared with 51 percent of women. Forty percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 68 percent of women."

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