20 Dec 2018

A man chopped some vegetables -- that doesn’t make him a hero

Praising men for doing any tiny task in the household is diminishing to both men and women.

Editorial Team
Nataša Vajagić NewsMavens, Europe
A man chopped some vegetables -- that doesn’t make him a hero - NewsMavens
Chopping Vegetables, PixaBay


A few days ago, an article was published in Tportal, a Croatian media portal, praising an athlete for “helping his beautiful wife in the kitchen”:


Marin Čilić is an ideal husband: he even helps his Kristina in the kitchen. A handsome athlete and a beautiful brunette posed [...] in the kitchen, preparing a tasty meal together. Thirty-year-old Marin was cutting the vegetables and his Kristina couldn’t keep a smile off her face. With this gesture, the famous tennis player showed what a caring partner he is and how household tasks aren’t a problem for him.”

Similar articles pop up in the Croatian media every so often. Men who do chores are praised as “caring partners”, “world’s best husband”, etc.

But should we applaud men for preparing the food they need to eat to survive, or for cleaning the home they live in? How does praising men for doing something that women have always been expected to do, relate to reaching gender equality in the sphere of domestic work?

Screenshot of the article labeled “sexism” on the Facebook page “Seksizam naš svagdašnji” (Our daily sexism). 

Screenshot of the article labeled “sexism” on a Facebook page “Seksizam naš svagdašnji”


The fact is that today men are doing more household chores then ever before - but it’s still a small percentage. Eurostat’s data for 2016 show that the EU average regarding household chores is that 79% of women do domestic work daily as opposed to 34% of men. In Croatia, 62% of women do chores daily, opposed to only 12% of men, which makes it a country with the lowest percentage od men doing household chores among the EU member states.

So, on one hand, the media highlights of “best husbands” who do any household work are relatable to reality, as you don’t often see men in Croatia doing that. On the other hand, this kind of media reports raise a question: should women be grateful and feel lucky if their partners are participating in, say, food preparation - an activity essential to keep oneself alive?

The answer is - no. This approach doesn’t challenge stereotypes, nor does it encourage greater equality among domestic partners. If you present one man as a hero because he did some work in the kitchen, it demeans both men and women. It portrays men as incapable of completing basic tasks. Applauding men for chopping vegetables seems a lot like proud parents cheering at their child’s first word. But men aren’t babies. It undermines their capabilities.

There is also the concept of “helping out” which implies that men aren’t responsible for household chores. Instead, they can choose to help out their women - or not.


Presenting men who do chores as something to be amazed at, reaffirms the idea that cooking and cleaning is a duty for which a woman is somehow predisposed, but for a man it’s a choice - and that those who make it should receive gratitude and praise. We therefore rate this article as an example of biological determinism.


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

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NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
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