Feature

The rap on working-class husbands

Most working-class husbands are “surprisingly enlightened” about child care and housework; on average, they do more cooking, cleaning, and child care than middle- and upper-class husbands, said Stephanie Coontz in Slate.com.

Stephanie CoontzSlate.com

Levi Johnston has given working-class men a bad rap, said Stephanie Coontz. The self-proclaimed “redneck” who is now engaged to Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol, has been scorned as a typical working-class man of the modern era—macho, lazy, and more than willing to sponge off his hardworking wife. In reality, studies have shown, most working-class husbands are “surprisingly enlightened” about child care and housework; on average, they do more cooking, cleaning, and child care than middle- and upper-class husbands.

Between 1965 and 2003, college-educated husbands increased their time spent on housework by 33 percent; husbands with high school degrees increased theirs by 52 percent. Another study comparing doctors with emergency medical technicians shows working-class men are often more involved fathers, as well. The EMTs are “much more active participants in their children’s daily routines” than the doctors, who are rarely home but think they’re great fathers because they show up for occasional ballgames. Working-class men don’t make a big fuss about it, but they’ve changed. They do dishes, and they pick up the kids at school.

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