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Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
Gender as an organizing principle for how we value labor appears to have depressingly early, yet unsurprising, roots. Boys, on average, spend two fewer hours doing household chores per week than girls do (they play two hours more). And if they live in households where children are compensated for doing chores, boys make and save more money. Year after year, studies repeatedly confirm these patterns. The problems women face with unequal pay and housework duties actually start in childhood.
A 2009 study conducted by University of Michigan economists found a two-hour gender disparity in responsibilities per week in a study of 3,000 kids. That same year, Highlights magazine, a children’s publication, surveyed its readers and found that 75 percent of girls had chores, while just 65 percent of boys did. This disparity in chores and free time continues into adulthood all over the world. According to the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), men “report spending more time in activities counted as leisure than women. Gender differences in leisure time are wide across OECD countries.”
The fact that boys’ chores appear to be more profitable makes the childhood chore gap even more disturbing. Turns out, parents tend to value the work that boys typically do more highly than the work girls do. A website that helps parents teach children how to earn, spend and save responsibly, pktmny, found “significant divides based on gender, age and the nature of the task being undertaken by each child,” according to Louise Hill, COO of the company. For example, mowing the lawn generally garners higher allowance wages than folding laundry. Shoveling a snow-covered driveway might yield more cash in hand than emptying the dishwasher.
There is a fascinating aspect to this gap: the degree to which traditionally feminine chores – folding, dishwashing – take place in the house, and traditionally masculine ones take kids out of the home. Outside work may offer more money-making opportunities, like mowing the neighbors’ lawns. In general, however, feminized domestic work remains hidden and less well paid. Girls can and do leave the house (for example, they are more likely to babysit) and they also, obviously, do “boy” jobs, like mowing lawns. However, these surveys all indicate that the way chores continue to be delegated perpetuates larger-scale systemic problems in the economy.
These problems were identified decades ago by economist Marilyn Waring in her landmark work, “If Women Counted“ (updated in “Counting for Nothing“), in which she documented the degree to which women’s work is invisible and unaccounted for globally. Despite her influence on the ways in which national systems of accounting recognize labor, along with related changes during the past 30 years, her basic findings remain true.
There is a third effect of gendered chore assignments that undermines gender equality: According to a recent study by Andrew Healy and Neil Malhotra, men who grow up with sisters do less housework than their spouses and are also significantly more socially conservative. Healy and Mahotra found that boys with sisters were 8.3 percentage points more likely to grow up and identify as Republicans. And, they wrote, “Men with sisters were 17 percentage points more likely to say that their spouse did more housework, suggesting that the gendered environment from childhood may have permanently altered men’s conception of gender roles.”
The bad news is that gender inequities in lifetime wages and time allocation have roots in how we reward children for work they do at home. Childhood scripts continue to lay the groundwork for making domestic work less valued, for prioritizing men’s careers over women’s, for a persistent workforce sex segregation, and for an enduring wage gap. All because of who dries the dishes and takes out the trash.
The good news, however, is that chores also provide a simple way for parents to foster egalitarian attitudes and long-term gender equity. Just divide the chores equally, regardless of gender — and if you pay the kids for them, pay them equally too. Then, 20 years from now, maybe your sons and daughters won’t have to read the same statistics all over again.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.
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