We are a small, independent media company on a mission to share the best of humanity with the world.
If you think the work we do matters, pre-ordering a copy of our first book would make a huge difference in helping us succeed.

macaroni and cheese

A box of mac 'n cheese and a confused man.

As women work their way towards equality when it comes to the division of domestic labor, a new trend has them pointing out how men use weaponized incompetence to get out of their responsibilities.

Weaponized incompetence is a strategy in which someone appears incapable of performing specific tasks so that someone else has to pick up the slack. Many men use this tactic to make women primarily responsible for household chores, cooking and caring for children.

“This is something that women have been dealing with all their lives,” Nadine Shaanta Murshid, PhD, associate professor of social work at the University at Buffalo, believed to have coined the term, told The Skimm. “The idea is that men are not good at certain things like domestic labor. And so, why not have women who are good at it, do it, because they're naturally predisposed to being good at this?”

A Redditor who goes by the name Latitude32 shared a powerful example of weaponized incompetence on a women’s forum in a post that has received over 1,300 comments. The post is titled: “Husband asked me how to do mac and cheese.”

“The kids had to be fed and I started a pot to make mac and cheese,” Latitude32 wrote. “I left it cooking to move on to the next task — to bathe our dog. I asked my husband to finish up the mac and cheese so I could continue bathing our dog.”

Unfortunately, he needed help making macaroni and cheese, a dish with only a few basic steps. This was strange because the man was an IT engineer who knew a thing or two about reading instructions and carrying out complex tasks.

“I'm elbow deep in dog hair and soap and the next thing I know, he had the nerve to ask me, ‘What do I do after draining the pasta?’ EXCUSE ME? Our kids are 13 and 5, so he has done mac and cheese MULTIPLE TIMES by now. Additionally, the instructions are, literally, ON THE BOX,” Latitude32 continued.

Her response to her husband? “Some of the best chefs in the world are men and you should figure it out.”

“If this isn't weaponized incompetence, I don't know what is,” Latitude32 concluded her post. “I can't help but think we've set up the bar for guys waaaay too low.”

The post received many comments from women complaining that their husbands relied on weaponized incompetence to shield them from household responsibilities. However, many shared some constructive advice on how they solved the problem by setting appropriate boundaries with their husbands.

“My favorite saying always works here. ‘Pretend I’m dead. What would you do?’ I will not allow the weaponized incompetence,” Socialmediaignorant wrote. “If my husband pulls that ‘oh how do you do a simple task,’ I remind him he has THREE degrees, so I have every faith in him to figure it out,” No-Winter1049 added.

“I had a colleague whose rule for her husband and son was, ‘If they don’t do it well the first time, make sure they do it repeatedly until they’re good at it.’ They learned quickly that helplessness was not their friend,” Humanityrus wrote.

Not all men use weaponized incompetence to get out of household responsibilities. Plenty of adults respect their partners by pulling their fair share around the house. However, posts like Latitide32’s are a great way of explaining the tactics their significant others may use to avoid pulling their weight. When we expose the roots of a problem, it becomes a lot easier to identify and then, fix.