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Chelsea sounds off about the depressing trend of wives making "funny" videos of their husbands willfully not contributing to the household, and what this means for our relationships and finances.

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Hey, guys. It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And this week's video is sponsored by SoFi, and thanks to SoFi for supporting TFD.

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Terms and conditions apply, void where prohibited. And it's time to buckle up [BLEEP] because I'm about to go on a rant again. And today, I am sort of inspired to do a bit of a rant both because of a topic that I touched on lightly via social video/TikTok/Instagram reel, which started a bit of a discourse, as you can see here. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] OK, we use the term normalization a lot on the internet, and often for things I just honestly don't even think deserve it.

But one thing we are absolutely normalizing for women on social media-- and trust me, I am a 30-something woman, and [BLEEP] like this is absolutely all over my feeds-- is content that shows women in heterosexual marriages basically taking on 100% of the domestic labor and having to essentially raise their husband as an additional child. [END PLAYBACK] But also because of an interview that I recently did while out filming The Financial Confessions in Los Angeles with author Eve Rodsky who wrote a book and created a game called Fair Play that's all about correcting the very imbalanced domestic labor sharing in heterosexual marriages, especially once kids are in the mix. Because I think there's obviously two parts of this equation. There are the actual cultural and social phenomena that are taking place in households across the country, and then there's also the sort of objectification of that and the normalization of it on social media.

But before we dive into the nitty gritty, I want to contextualize who Eve Rodsky is, what her book is, which you'll obviously hear a ton more about in the interview I did with her, as well as what brought us to this cultural moment where the results of this domestic imbalance are in many ways worse than they've ever been, but at least the conversation about it is more on everyone's minds. So as it pertains to Eve, as she put it-- and again, she goes into more detail in our interview-- but she had a pretty specific inciting incident that led her to write the book. "I had done the grocery shopping. I was running all these errands on the way to pick up one of my sons, doing contract work at stoplights, and my husband sent me a text that said, 'I'm surprised you didn't get the blueberries.' I pulled the car over and I cried.

It was such a punch in the gut. I used to be able to manage employee teams, and now I can't even manage a grocery list. More importantly, how had I become the default for every childcare and household task for my family?

It wasn't supposed to be that way. I had vowed from an early age that it wouldn't be that way. I'm a Harvard-trained attorney.

I'm literally trained to use my voice. And I kept thinking that if this was happening to me, it was happening to every woman I know." And she pretty quickly found out in doing the research for her book that that is true. The long and short of it is that while it's always been on women to shoulder the majority of domestic labor, again, especially when children enter the picture, there has been a revolution over the past 50 years to bring women into the workplace.

And I think there are a lot of reasons for that, both historical and economic. I mean, if nothing else, having effectively twice the people in the labor market as there were before is a great way to depress wages. But while we had this revolution to bring women into the workplace to the extent that now most women have to work to some extent, we did not have a simultaneous revolution of bringing men into the household in a way that they weren't before.

So now the modern woman is saddled with having to be full-time parent and full-time employee, which is pretty unprecedented in human history. And it should not be shocking, has led to a bunch of terrible results. As one article put it, "While all workers are likely to experience time conflicts, working mothers are especially hard hit because in addition to their paid labor, they take on the majority of unpaid household and care work.

Most workers in the United States, including most working mothers, are employed full time, and most mothers are either breadwinners or co-breadwinners and their families. But in addition to their paid employment, most working mothers come home to a second shift of unpaid work that includes household labor and childcare." And it's not shocking that the COVID-19 pandemic basically cast all of that into super sharp relief and made it so that a lot of these dynamics, which people knew on some internal level were happening all around them, were extremely visible on a day-to-day basis, especially when suddenly both partners were working from home. "COVID-19 transformed home life, turning kitchen tables into home offices and classrooms and putting a spotlight on the countless household tasks typically performed by women. Brigid Schulte said the pandemic has laid bare the grotesque inequality that exists within many families.

There's been a lot of invisible labor that women have done that people, particularly men even in the same household, haven't been aware of or haven't paid attention to." And I should say right here that the division of labor amongst same-gendered couples, which are increasingly a large part of who makes up average households, does typically fall differently. It's not as imbalanced, largely because there aren't super anchored gender norms that we're sort of subconsciously using to assume who should be doing what. These things kind of have to be figured out from zero, which in many cases turns out to be a positive.

But because of the overwhelmingly gendered nature of this problem and how much that gender imbalance is getting normalized through social media, I want to specifically focus on heterosexual couples here because as a woman who is 33, married, but not planning to have children, but surrounded by a lot of women who are having children, most of whom are staying in the workforce to some extent, I can tell you that even anecdotally, I am at the age where it is completely normalized that women are entering this dynamic. It's not even questioned. Women will go home earlier from work.

They will be the ones who know their children's teachers, their friends' names, who manage the household schedule, who pack for vacations, who plan for vacations, who just generally assume director of the household on top of whatever actual job they're doing. I have now in the wild heard the term babysitting thrown around when we're talking about a man caring for his own children. And trust me when I say that it is very difficult for me not to just Wilhelm scream at the top of my lungs when I hear this. [YELL] That's not the Wilhelm scream, but that's what I feel.

And I bring in the child aspect of it because it's important to note that while these gender imbalances exist in hetero couples before children come into the picture, they rapidly skyrocket once that baby arrives. "Researchers tracked 182 dual-earner heterosexual couples from before to after the birth of their first child. Pre-baby, men and women in this study spent relatively similar amounts of time on household tasks. Nine months after the baby was born, women were spending significantly more time on household tasks as well as all tasks related to childcare.

Men spent more time on paid work both before and after the baby was born." And what's very interesting as far as the psychological burden of this is that both partners in these studies felt that they were actually doing more domestic labor than they were, which is totally understandable when you're dealing with juggling so many pressures at once and probably not able to super closely track your time. And in many cases, they're totally sleep-deprived anyway. But it's interesting to note that men actually way further overestimated what they were doing while doing less. "Pre-baby, both men and women actually spent 14.5 hours on housework, but estimated that they spent between 21 and 22 hours.

After the baby was born, women spent about 13.5 hours on housework, but estimated they spent 27 hours. Men spent about 9.5 hours and estimated that they spent about 35 hours. For childcare, women estimated they spent 21.8 hours, but actually only spend 8.4.

Men estimated they'd spent about 14, and actually reported spending 7.7." And I think the fact that both parties are over-reporting what they do makes total sense given that if there is already an inherent imbalance, it's easy for those feelings to have to be channeled into other sentiments. Exhaustion, resentment, a general sense of unfairness. And in order for men to justify the fact that they are objectively doing less on average, to avoid a huge amount of cognitive dissonance they probably have to feel like they're doing more than they are.

But the reason why this video set me off to the extent that it did and led me to create the TikTok which then became this video and my interview with Eve Rodsky is that that normalization, that sort of cutesification of the fact that a woman has to not only be an employee and also raise her children, but to some extent raise and manage her husband as another child is part of what is leading this dynamic to be so universal and difficult to escape. When men perceive that they're doing more than they actually are, a woman simply wanting to assert 50/50 in the household is going to come across as asking too much. And when the idea is that this is just the way men are-- oh, men don't know how to change a diaper, oh, men are babysitting when they take care of their own kids, oh, men are [BLEEP]-ing-ing heroes when they manage to come home a little bit earlier from work to take care of putting the kids to bed one time that week-- we are now unintentionally framing the idea that labor should be divided half and half if both parties are working full time as being unreasonable, or going way outside the norm, or asking for something that on some level women don't deserve.

When I was researching this video, I saw TikTok after meme after relatable tweet about, for example, how a mom prepares for vacation versus how a dad prepares for vacation. The mom was booking the tickets, picking the hotel, planning the activities, writing up the agenda, making the packing list for the family, doing the laundry to pack the bags, packing the bags themselves, making sure that they fit within the travel compliance rules, picking out the outfits for travel day itself, dealing with rental cars, and the list goes on and on and on. Whereas the portrayal of the man was just him throwing two t-shirts into a bag and calling it a day.

And the comments on these posts are just literally thousands and thousands and thousands of women talking about how, oh my god. So me. So my husband.

And I'm sorry, but time to go on a murder spree. I don't know. [LAUGHS] I'm sorry. That's obviously facetious and we shouldn't be murdering these men.

But we should be putting them in jail. [LAUGHS] No. Obviously, we're at a really, really depressing point in the culture where this is totally normalized and accepted and treated as humor. And this would already be bad enough if the women were full-time mothers because that still wouldn't be a super fair division of labor when you both decided to have the kids.

But to know that this is happening when the majority of women are having to work in the household is just beyond galling. And it's important to note that these videos and memes and TikToks are not exaggerations. "Women in dual-income families are more likely to be in charge of creating and maintaining a family schedule and tend to manage the social lives of their families more than men. One study found that women tend to plan their family's time together-- like outings and vacations-- and to work more during that leisure time-- caring for the children, cooking, et cetera-- than their male partners." And while I think that the sort of contentification of this phenomenon is deeply insidious-- and don't even get me started on the fact that like in the video I showed and in many of the videos I found, the children themselves are part of the content, which as we've discussed in our previous video about child influencers and child labor is no coincidence.

Content typically performs better when children are featured in that content, which is its whole own can of worms. Even if we weren't just normalizing this by making it into cute content, we're normalizing it as women by absorbing the physical consequences of this and either heavily medicating or heavily self-medicating ourselves as a result. "While housework is unpleasant for people of both genders, women who are overloaded by it actually experience more depressive symptoms. This may be due to the emotional burdens rather than the physical burdens of managing social life and childcare." But "In fact, as one study found, women and men who feel responsible for household tasks-- not those who actually spend more time doing them-- have worse cardiovascular health.

And nearly 18% of all women in the United States used antidepressant medication between 2015 and 2018, compared to just over 8% of men, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control. Overall, during the decade between 2009 to 2010 and 2017 to 2018, antidepressant use increased to 14% from 11%. The use increased more for women to 19% from 14% than for men, up to 9% from 7%." And that's not even taking into account other types of medication like benzodiazepines and other types of anti-anxiety medication, which are being more heavily used and more heavily used by women specifically, and in that group by mothers specifically.

And I want to be very clear that I am not here to stigmatize pharmaceutical use. For many people, these drugs can be life-changing and even life-saving. It is not to say that it is not your right, and in fact, in many cases the right choice for people to use these medications obviously under the supervision of a doctor or a therapist.

But it should be more worrying to us that so many people are having to rely on these drugs just to go about their day-to-day lives. When we're talking about numbers like that, it's very indicative that something much more fundamental is wrong. And when you look at the idea of putting modern women under the enormous dual pressure of being full-time mothers and caregivers and full-time employees-- again, something that has not really happened throughout human history, at least not at this scale and for this duration-- it's basically inevitable that women would have to medicate in order to cope with that immense amount of stress.

And the fact that at a certain level, there just simply aren't enough hours in the day. And it's also no coincidence that this same kind of content, the women that it resonates with, the circles that it really gets a lot of traction in are also in many cases that famed wine mom audience. The myth of the wine mom is sometimes a myth.

We do see that the data varies in terms of who's consuming more alcohol amongst women and amongst adults in the US. But what's undeniable is that drinking as a way of self-medicating and as providing an escape and a reward for the enormous pressures that women and especially moms are under is very normalized. But even though self-medicating through alcohol to cope with enormous stress is not healthy, it's also worth noting that even amongst that, only a certain class of women can even really afford to be a wine mom.

As one article in The Atlantic put it, "One of the problems of the 'wine mom' meme is that it has class insularity. But there are plenty of other moms who are, say, working two jobs, who certainly don't have the money or the time to take a wine break. The stresses and challenges that wine moms are drinking to take a break from-- or, as some might put it, drinking to escape-- aren't unique to those who identify as wine moms.

They're shared by lots of other moms and dads who may or may not drink wine to wind down. A lot of those stresses, Jacobson added, could be alleviated through larger, structural reforms and the implementation of programs designed to lighten the burden of parenting. In the long term, maybe what 'wine moms--' and moms of other social classes, and non-drinking moms-- need isn't a supersized glass of alcohol, but social support in the form of affordable child care, paid-family-leave wages, equitable wages, and of course, an equitable division of labor at home." At the end of the day, these videos like the one I talked about at the beginning are really just a symptom of the problem.

But I do think the more that we normalize this and the more we treat it as a joke or something relatable, the more we're reinforcing the underlying problem that is causing all these terrible symptoms. It is just not realistic on a purely logistical level for a person to be a full-time employee and a full-time primary parent if they are not dividing labor equally at home. It's just not tenable.

And the fact that so many women are not just expected to do that, but expected to aspire to it as the image of the woman who has it all, who manages to do it in a seemingly effortless way, is incredibly insidious and actively harming women in terms of health outcomes while also just making their lives [BLEEP]. It is way too big a problem for any one person to solve on their own, but the least we can do is stop treating it like a joke. As always, guys, thank you for watching, and don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos.