On average, far fewer women have hobbies than men. There’s a reason for that. Globally speaking, the unpaid domestic labour that women do annually is valued at over ten trillion dollars.

Women spend almost four and a half hours a day completing this form of labour, on average. Over 600 million women do unpaid domestic labour full time. Naturally, this leaves little leisure time and self-care.


Any activity that helps us maintain or improve our mental, emotional, or physical wellbeing falls under the category of self-care. Which has been proven to boost mood and reduce anxiety. Self-care has also been linked to healthy interpersonal relationships and self-esteem.

To be explicit, this means self-care is not something we don’t enjoy doing or are forced or obligated to do. Which would indicate that domestic labour is not self-care for the vast majority of people who do it.

In contrast, hobbies can be a form of self-care as they are an activity we do in our leisure time for our own pleasure. Everyone is entitled to feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically balanced. Hobbies are a great way to achieve that balance. Doing so does not make anyone a selfish person. 

Hobby or housework?

When asked, many women do claim to have hobbies. Yet these hobbies are activities that not only do they not enjoy, but they directly fall into the category of unpaid domestic labour. Most popular ‘hobbies’ for women include cooking, sewing, scrapbooking, knitting, and baking.

Strangely, outside of all of the time we spend doing domestic labour, we spend additional time doing it, and then call it a hobby. Perhaps the ironic icing on the cake is that, the reason why so few women have hobbies is because of unpaid domestic labour.

Maybe it’s coincidence but these are also activities that serve others as much or more than they serve us. That’s not to say a hobby is classified as something that does not serve others. But it’s a marked difference when men not only typically have hobbies, but those hobbies also typically serve only them. 

There’s also a serious undertone of gender roles within these ‘hobbies’ as well. For the record, gender roles are a social construct. Hobbies are not inherently masculine or feminine. Anyone can have any hobby. The point of a hobby is to do an activity you enjoy, not uphold a facet of our patriarchal society.

In any event, if we are doing a domestic task we don’t enjoy it’s not a hobby. And by extension, it’s not self-care either. It’s called unpaid domestic labour. And we do way more than our fair share of it.

Infantilization of straight men

The issue of the devision of labour seems to be one that exists dominantly in heterosexual households. Typically, gay and lesbian homes share housework equality or equitably. For that reason, it’s straight men that have the most work to do in picking up the slack and supporting their partners at home.

Tragically, straight women tend to enable their male partners when it comes to avoiding domestic labour. We cannot simultaneously resent the disproportionate amount of housework we do and also fail to hold our partners accountable. At the same time, men, come on, you’re adults.

We’ve normalized the infantilization of adult males and it’s beyond disturbing when you step back and examine the behaviour. Consider for a moment the frequency with which adult straight men frequently ask their partners where things are in their own home.

Not asking for help finding something, but just asking where an item is without even bothering to look first. It’s weird for a lot of reasons. Why are women designated Inventory Controllers of the domicile? Could it be due to the amount of unpaid domestic labour they do?

Why don’t men just look for themselves, as women do? Could it be because they’re subconsciously accustomed to a live-in housekeeper? But perhaps most strangely is the fact that asking a woman I live with where things are is something I haven’t done since I was a small child and I called that woman ‘mom.’

That parallel is creepy, to say the least. It further speaks to the infantilization of men. As well as the unpaid caretaker role straight women are expected to fill as they coddle their male partners through adulthood. 

The Next Step

We need to normalize taking care of ourselves and prioritizing our health. We need to encourage people in our lives to take the time they need to rest and restore themselves. 

The act of self-care only seems selfish. It also only causes guilt because we live in a world that has wrongly normalized women taking the lion’s share of domestic labor because men prioritize their hobbies over domestic equality.

There’s nothing selfish about practicing self-care. Just as there’s nothing selfish in pursuing a hobby. Unless of course that behaviour has negative repercussions in your life. Such as resulting in a disproportionate amount of domestic, unpaid labour being forced upon your partner or family member(s). 

Everyone deserves time for self-care and time to pursue their hobby. Unpaid domestic labour should be equitable in households as it is a stepping stone in moving towards equality for everyone. Are you pulling your weight at home? If not, what can you change to make it so?

I’d love to know…

What does your self-care look like?