If Jane Austen had flat-shared, the start of Pride and Prejudice would have read: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that there is always one flatmate who never, ever, takes out the bins”. Yet in my flat-sharing days, this was at least never a gender issue. I lived with fastidiously tidy men and slobby women – and vice versa.
Perhaps then you have kids, find yourself in a nuclear family, and suddenly deciding who takes the bins out becomes a battleground in gender wars. Are you doing the laundry because it’s your assigned gender role and you are thus conforming to all the stereotypes you fight hard for your daughters to be freed from? Or just because you prefer it to the alternative, which is watching your white T-shirts turn pink and your handwash-only items shrink to fit the teddy bear? Does your husband take the bins out because that’s what his dad did, or because he gets home earlier on bin night?
Theoretically, it shouldn’t really matter who does what, as long as it’s fair. One parent may simply have more time on their hands than the other. Someone with a smartphone whose battery doesn’t die every 30 minutes is probably better off in charge of paying the bills and checking their Starling balance. And some people are better at DIY than others: in my household, one member (who shall remain nameless but definitely wasn’t me), once put together an Ikea TV stand backward. It shouldn’t even be possible to do that – you’ve almost got to admire it.