A search for #MarriageHumor on TikTok returns 18b views. The videos often feature couples making light of common issues and challenges faced by married couples. They include jokes about the imbalance in domestic labour to things like men being unable to care for their children or even remember their birthdays. Let’s talk about what #MarriageHumour jokes reveal.
Check out this video tagged #MarriageHumor in which a father takes his child to the hospital alone
Demeans women’s labour
Who among us hasn’t seen those jokes about how incompetent men are when it comes to housework and child-rearing? Every 90’s sitcom (and I’m dating myself here) featured the idiot dad and the mom who had to take care of everything. This same dynamic is reflected in TikTok’s marriage humour.
Too many of the jokes frame men as bumbling idiots who can’t properly wash dishes and who couldn’t gun to their heads care for their own children without wrecking the entire house. The jokes often make it seem like we’re laughing at the incompetent men, except that’s not the case. When the men themselves are telling the jokes, you know it’s not about laughing at them. It’s about making light of a situation that women continue to insist is serious.
Domestic labour is endless and it’s serious. There’s nothing funny about living with a partner who doesn’t bear the burden of domestic labour with you. A partner who can’t be trusted to care for his own children. That’s not funny and when people make jokes about it, they demean and dismiss what is life-supporting work.
Check out this video tagged #MarriageHumour in which a woman is doing laundry 7 days after giving birth while her partner records her
Men’s incompetence is harmful
Aside from making light of a serious matter, marriage humour also directly harms women. When men don’t contribute to domestic work, women are left bearing that weight alone. When society jokes about it, it ignores the impact of this incompetence on women and children. This is where I remind you that married women with children do more domestic labour than single mothers.
Women bearing most of the domestic labour has an adverse effect on their career prospects. It translates to greater economic inequality and precarity especially in retirement. Women and girls are consistently the poorest demographic in the world. One study found that the burden of unpaid domestic and care work borne by women is associated with greater mental health burden and negative effects on quality of life. The unending labour can eventually lead to physical and emotional distress, depression and anxiety. One study out of Korea found that women who were full-time homemakers had five times the risk of cognitive impairments compared with women in other occupations.
The couples who make marriage humour content take this unjust dynamic, which has real cost then soften it. They desensitize us to women’s suffering and misery and make it something to brush off, something to easily dismiss. All the jokes obscure how harmful men’s incompetence and refusal to participate in domestic labour is. It is objectively harmful to women. It also does children no favours to be raised by fathers who are not fully engaged parents. Jokes demean housework and all the labour involved in child-rearing. Jokes excuse men who are bad partners and fathers and are harming their families as a result.
Weaponized Incompetence And How To Deal With It
Relationships: The Fair Play Method Of Dividing Housework And Childcare
Opinion: On Men Abusing Women In The Name Of Pranks
Relationships: On Men Hating Their Partners And Signs Your Man Hates You
Opinion: “Marriage Is Not About Happiness”
Opinion: Can Men Really Love Women In A Patriarchal Society?