The relationship between men and women is fraught and underscored by inequality. This inequality has increasingly become a subject of discussion on and offline. Well-meaning people have begun to experiment with different ways of making it a more equal union. One of the things that have been floated and tried by some couples is going 50-50 especially as pertains to finances. One of the reasons men exercise undue control over the relationship is finances. Whoever has the money calls the shots and so 50/50 was envisioned as a way to restore balance. Here’s why it doesn’t work and why there’s nothing equal about splitting finances 50/50 with a man.
Men’s contribution to the process of producing a child is minuscule. Women on the other hand make untold sacrifices. They deal with near-permanent changes in their bodies, and their physical and mental health and there are no guarantees of survival.
A UN study found that every two minutes a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth with 70% of those deaths being in sub-Saharan Africa. Men’s contribution to babymaking is a few minutes, women’s months and they risk their lives at the end of it all. There’s no equal split of responsibility here. Going 50-50 when you’re the one shouldering the burden growing a family together requires is absurd not to mention highly unequal.
Having children requires taking time off not just for childbirth but also the first few months of caring for a newborn and this is assuming everything goes well and there are no complications that require you to take extra time off during the pregnancy or after giving birth. While the woman is out of work, everyone else who was at the same level as her career-wise is progressing.
Then there’s the fact that women bear a majority of the burden of childcare even after the newborn years which further contributes to holding them back when it comes to career progression. One study found that having children can set a woman’s career back by 6 years, more than half a decade. 50% of those interviewed said having a child negatively impacted their careers with 42% believing they would have had a more senior role had they not become mothers. Needless to say, men experience no such impacts on their career prospects as a result of having children.
One study cited by Forbes found that men’s careers benefited from marriage whereas that was certainly not the case for women. In a world where women are making all these sacrifices and men aren’t, there’s nothing equal about 50-50 on finances with a man. If anything you are improving his life at the expense of your own.
It’s no secret that women bear more of the burden related to domestic labour which includes house chores, child care and other forms of care including elder care. From cooking and cleaning to childcare, women are always working in the home. Married women spend an average of 21 hours a week on housework. A woman with children spends about 28 hours a week on housework and if she has a husband, that adds on an extra 7 hours. Married men with more than children spent an average of 10 hours of domestic work. That’s for men who do housework at all. In too many cultures, domestic labour is women’s work and men, especially those with full-time jobs are exempted from it. There’s no equality when it comes to housework including childcare, which are unending tasks, why would you go 50-50 with a man who doesn’t carry his weight when it comes to housework? Unless the 50/50 includes housework, no deal.
Men earn more
Men on average earn more for a variety of reasons including good old sexism. This is part of the reason why it’s often a no-brainer for the woman to quit her job and become a full-time homemaker. It’s often an income that the family can afford to lose. Taking into account the difference in income, it makes no sense for both partners to contribute 50-50 when it comes to finances. If the man earns 5 times what the woman earns, her 50% is so much more than his 50% when it comes to what it costs. It makes more sense for the person who earns more to contribute more because they have more to begin with. If we go 50-50 0n rent and both need to contribute 30,000, and we earn 100,000 and 50,000 respectively, the person who earns 50k has contributed so much more comparatively. The 100k guy has 70k left and the 50k guy only has 20. 50/50 makes no sense for people of disparate income levels.
Heterosexual relationships need to deal with the inherent inequality that makes them function, and 50/50 certainly ain’t it.
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