The XX Factor

A Lazy Woman’s Guide to Thanksgiving

You both deserve a break.

Women hate housework as much as men do, and yet we are stuck performing 44 minutes more of it each day. The bulk of the disparity comes in women’s extensive contributions to “food and drink preparation,” “interior cleaning,” and “kitchen and food clean-up.” Never are these gender roles more pronounced than on Thanksgiving, a daylong exercise in preparing, then clearing, foods from the home.

To better share the burden this holiday, men will need to take up more responsibilities in the kitchen. But women will also have to learn to lay down their spatulas, and cede control over the Thanksgiving meal. That can be hard to get used to—especially if the men in your life are not terribly skilled in the culinary and sanitary arts.

As a woman with several decades of experience in laziness, I’m here to help. I learned not to cook young: I was raised in a home where much of the food preparation, on holidays and otherwise, was handled by male family members. Now that I’m an adult, I subsist mainly off of Trader Joe’s frozen foods prepared in an apartment strewn with clothing. I’m writing this very guide while lying on my stomach and listening to Justin Bieber songs. Here’s how it’s done!

ENTERTAINING. Perhaps you do enjoy watching football. Not on Thanksgiving! Today, your entertainment center should be occupied with a traditionally feminine pastime, in order to ward off the men in your home and keep them corralled in the kitchen. A romantic comedy marathon should do the trick. Erupt with anger every time Hugh Grant “fumbles” when speaking to an attractive woman.

FOOD PREPARATION. In many households, men take on the more traditionally masculine task of tying up an avian carcass, roasting it in its own skin, then dissecting it with an enormous knife. The slow-cooking turkey operation also allows for hours of reclining while a fleet of women tediously mash, stir, and bake the dishes that require more constant attention. Not this year. This Thanksgiving, gracefully volunteer to make one elaborate dish that requires 6 to 8 hours of “preparation.” Every third commercial break, rise from the couch to stare intensely into the crockpot.

CONVERSATION. If you find male members of your family failing to pick up the slack, stoke their masculine anxieties. Couch your housework demands in manly, rational economic terms like “family efficiency” and “comparative advantage.” Over dinner, casually reference trend stories about their gender’s imminent demise. If that doesn’t work, retire to your crockpot and mutter “end of men … end of men” under your breath as you make an elaborate show of masterfully seasoning your sole contribution to the meal.

EXPECTATION MANAGEMENT. Training novices in the art of home economics takes time. The first Thanksgiving you refuse to handle the bulk of the holiday chores, you may find yourself eating cranberry sauce directly from the can while your extended family members tear into the last bag of marshmallows. No one said gender equality would be delicious! Sounds like it’s time for you to do your part, and man up. I frequently “assemble” many of my meals directly from bags and cans. It all ends up in the same place anyway. No dish washing required!

CLEANING. Once the meal is finished, announce your retreat to the home office. It’s time to “balance” your family life with some hard work. Tell partners and children you are not to be disturbed: You are blogging.