Who’s Supposed Clean Up Thanksgiving Dinner?

Despite all of the progress we’ve made when it comes to gender equity at work and at home, Thanksgiving and the holidays still suffer from a pretty good amount of sexism and gender stereotyping: too often, we picture the women with aprons on cooking up a storm in the kitchen while the men watch the big game and only pause to carve the turkey and eat.

Still, many families are trying to break the mold by making sure that their sons spend some time learning to cook in the kitchen and that men don’t show up at the door empty-handed. But the message isn’t clearly getting through to everyone.

In the wake of Thanksgiving 2023, for example, one wife is wondering how her partner got away with doing nothing but eating and watching football over the long weekend. She jumped on Reddit’s infamous AITA forum to ask the world if she was being a jerk — or if her request for a rest was unreasonable.

Here’s what happened.

“My (42f) husband (37m) and I were invited to his sister’s house for Thanksgiving,” she begins. “I love to cook and entertain so I volunteered to make a lot of dishes. Other people brought food also. I cooked for two days straight and today, the morning of Thanksgiving, I suggested to my husband that he should gather up all the men to clean the kitchen after the shared meal, since literally only the women were the ones who cooked and prepared everything. Divide and conquer, if you will. He agreed to do so.”

Sounds like an equitable plan and I love how they decided on the division of labor before even getting to the house.

But then things didn’t go as planned.

“We had a great meal. After dinner, everyone sat around chatting with coffee and were having a good time. At some point, the men all transitioned to the living room to watch football while the women began helping my sister-in-law clean her kitchen,” she continued.

A tale as old as time. While she didn’t bring it up in the moment, she brought it up on the drive back to their house.

“On the way home, I asked my husband what happened and why he didn’t pitch in to help with the clean up,” she said. “He said I have a victim complex and I’m choosing to be in a bad mood. I told him I’m not in a bad mood, I am just bringing up what was previously discussed and agreed upon, and asked him if he thought it was fair. He then proceeded to tell me how there are certain jobs he has to do because he has testicles. I said that’s not the point here, I am not talking about prior situations or arguments, just this evening in particular.”

Well, testicles really didn’t have to enter the conversation, but here we are.

And now she wants to know who the a**hole is: him or her?

Down in the comments, it was almost universal that the guys should have lifted one tiny finger after the big meal and do their part.

“If you didn’t cook you gotta clean,” read the most up-voted comment. “It’s called teamwork and helping someone you love.”

“If I acted like this my wife would tell me to get takeout and eat by myself next year,” one man wrote.

It’s really simple, according to almost everyone: do your fair share so that the women in your life don’t spend their entire holiday serving others.

“My sister made thanksgiving dinner while I was sleeping from my 16hr overnight shift,” one woman wrote about her holiday. “It was delicious and ready when I woke up. So when we finished eating I made her a plate of desert, a fresh drink and sent her to the living room while I made the kitchen and dishes sparkle again. It’s how you show appreciation to the one that spent all that time making you delicious food.”

It’s not hard, people! The Mad Men days of men slipping brandy and smoking cigars after dinner are over. Let’s divide the work some everyone gets some rest.

Someone else put it a bit more succinctly.

“He can make himself sandwiches on paper plates for the rest of his life,” she said.

Now that sounds fair.

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