Sure, it sounds nice, but critics say the deeper meaning behind his choice of words spells trouble ahead.

After several decades of housework being almost exclusively the responsibility of wives in Japan, the current generation of teens and young adults is one of the first to have grown up with the concept that men and women have a joint responsibility to take care of household chores. Still, that ideal isn’t something that’s entirely become reality in Japanese society.

So many would say it speaks well of a young man who promises his girlfriend that he’ll help around the house if their relationship progresses to marriage and living together. But Japanese Twitter @hiiimaaah user says that’s actually a sign that the woman is going to end up doing the bulk of the housework, and that a big part of the reason why is hiding in the guy’s exact choice of words.

According to @hiiimaaah, the advice originally comes from a college professor, who told her:

“This is something I tell all my students. If your boyfriend says ‘If we get married, I’ll absolutely help with the housework,’ you shouldn’t marry him. Doing his share of the housework should be obvious, because doing housework is part of his responsibilities.”

The professor seems to think there are two red flags in the promise. First is the fact that the guy even sees the need to make it in the first place, as opposed to just already accepting it as something he should do as a full-grown adult. Second, a sentiment echoed by many other Twitter users who commented on @hiiimaaah’s tweet, is that choosing the word “help” here implies that the guy thinks that the primary, ultimate responsibility for housework lies with the woman. It’s her job, and he’s just “helping” her, as opposed to agreeing to take on an equal load since he accounts for half of the household’s adult members.

It’s worth pointing out that the semantic interpretation isn’t entirely ironclad. The linguistic concept of two people “helping each other” to achieve a shared goal exists, after all, without implying that one of them bears a greater responsibility than the other to get it done. “Housework” is also such a broad and continual responsibility that one could argue it’s something that’s never definitively over, and the perpetual state of tasks that need doing make it more natural to think of as something that requires a steady flow of whatever effort can be spared, with neither person completing it, just making the remaining amount of necessary work that much smaller.

Still, framed as it is in @hiiimaaah’s tweet, a promise to “help with the housework” rubbed many other Internet users the wrong way too, racking up over 90,000 likes for the professor’s advice. Unfortunately, no one has stepped forward to offer an alternative phrasing that would instill them with more confidence in guy’s commitment to help keep the house clean and get food cooked, but maybe that’s because this is one of those situations where actions speak much more loudly than words, and the only thing to do is pay attention to how a guy conducts himself before marriage

Source: Twitter/@hiiimaaah via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso

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