Chelsea Handler may be joking, but disparities in childcare responsibilities are seriously real
In a clip from her new standup special, Revolution, Handler opens up about her decision to be child-free. But she goes on to explain that she’d be willing to welcome kids into her life—under the right circumstances.
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“I say I don’t want to be a mother, but I wouldn’t mind being a divorced dad, you know?” Handler says as the crowd breaks into applause. “I could crush that role, coming in hot at like 50% all the time. Showing up Friday afternoons with unicorn frappuccinos, and then back to the Cheesecake Factory, and then back to Starbucks, and then drop them off and skedaddle Monday before s*** really hits the fan.”
Handler continues, “I could crush that role. Or a stepfather. That’s another role I would crush. Nobody expects anything from you guys.”
Listen. Are there divorced dads and stepfathers who step up and take on an even load of the responsibility for their kids? Of course! But Handler is making a point about a larger trend: Women unfairly shoulder more of the burden of home and childcare tasks than men do.
According to the Pew Research Center in 2019, fathers reported spending an average of 8 hours per week on childcare, while mothers reported spending an average of 14 hours per week.
A study by the Boston College Center for Work & Family found that in 2016, working dads spend an average of 7.2 hours per week on child care. Working mothers, meanwhile, spend an average of 14.1 hours per week on child care.
And a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2020 found that fathers who were primary caregivers spent an average of 8.3 hours per week on child care, while mothers who were primary caregivers spent an average of 14.7 hours per week on child care.
This is the larger point that Handler is making. Moms, even when they work outside of the home, are still largely expected to handle the majority of childcare. Dads, meanwhile, get a pass for doing just a fraction of the work. It’s not equal or fair, and while we love Handler for making us laugh, we love her even more for bringing important issues like this one to light.