Sandrine Rousseau, 50, a self-proclaimed French eco-feminist, first floated the idea of criminalizing avoiding household chores, saying she wanted “a crime of not sharing household chores because I think privacy is political”. She said men had only increased the time spent on household chores by 14 minutes since the 1970s, and if the current rate of change continued, it would take 6,300 years to achieve equality in France.
Women, however, spend an average of 10 hours and 30 minutes more per week on household chores than their male counterparts, Ms Rousseau said, adding that they should have the right to bring criminal charges against their partners.
Initially, the comments were dismissed. But a poll for the Ifpop institute, which interviewed 1,992 people, yielded surprising results, with a total of 50% women and 44% men approving the idea.
In addition, 15% of women said they would “probably or definitely” take criminal action against their partner to “force them to do their share of domestic and parenting duties”.
And a total of 13% of men said they were also willing to take legal action against their wives or partners for the same reason.
Under the proposed law, people could report workplace shy spouses and partners to the police, which would trigger an investigation and possible prosecution.
In Britain, the news sparked heated debate on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday as hosts Richard Madely and Ranvir Singh clashed over the issue.
Ms Singh said: ‘The fact is we’ve barely seen an increase in the number of men doing household chores.
But Richard quickly responded, saying: ‘We are talking about this as a criminal offence.
“It’s absolute nonsense, to drag a man or a woman to court because they don’t do the dishes!”
The panel was joined by cleaning expert Aggie Mackenzie, who argued that it was ‘education’ and not ‘legalization’ that was needed.
But Dr Tessa Dunlop argued otherwise, saying there are “a lot of legislated things in a marriage”.
So what do you think? Should avoiding household chores be a criminal offence? Vote in our poll and join the debate in the comments section below.