Men Are Being Called Out For ‘Weaponised Incompetence’ In The Home

Same old.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

Are you a man? Do you weaponise your incompetence? Do you even know what that means?

If you’re not on TikTok, chances are you don’t. The phrase has, in recent weeks, become synonymous with housework – more specifically, the housework that many cis-het men have been avoiding doing.

Picture the scene: you’re in a loving relationship with a man. You move in together. You both work full time but you (a woman, probably) still take on the majority of the housework.

You spend hours scrubbing, hoovering, washing, and spraying, and your partner picks up very little of the slack. You ask them to help out every now and again, only to be consistently reminded that they just don’t know what they’re doing. It would be easier for you to do it. At least it would get done properly.

Enter weaponised incompetence – the idea that a person will consistently say that they don’t know how to do something just so they don’t have to do it. Or, god forbid, learn how to do it.

The concept has become quite the subject over on TikTok as users have been sharing real-life examples of how their partners have weaponised their own incompetence to get out of doing chores.

@thatdarnchat The lack of empathy can lead to a lack of consideration for someone’s time and energy. There is very real harm in consistently failing to consider someone else’s needs. #weaponizedincompentence ♬ original sound – Laura Danger

One woman said that her husband was “playing stupid” to get out of cleaning the kitchen after she asked him to put some bottles away.

“He would say, ‘Oh, you only told me to clean up the bottles so I cleaned up the bottles. You didn’t tell me to put the food away and you didn’t tell me to clean up the rest of it’,” she said in the video, which currently boasts over 5.7 million views.

Another user “flipped” weaponised incompetence to the female perspective, and said things like “Grocery shopping? Can you make me a list?”, “What time does school start,” and “The baby’s been crying for 20 minutes, when are you coming home?”

Let it be known that weaponised incompetence is often not an outright argument or a fight. As the above examples show, it’s a lot more nuanced than that.

Rather than admitting that they simple don’t want to do the housework because they’re lazy, tired, or because they believe a woman should be doing it instead (!), the partner is acting as if they “didn’t realise” they should be doing it in the first place. You know, like a child.

Weaponised incompetence isn’t just frustrating, it’s also incredibly common – and can lead to much (warranted) resentment in a relationship that otherwise might be fine.

@clarabellecwbJust tell me what to do and I’ll do it!♬ A Day in My Life – Soft boy

So, where does weaponised incompetence come from, and why does it happen in the home?

Educator and author Laura Danger (@thatdarnchat) says on TikTok that weaponised incompetence comes from a lack of empathy, and a lack of care around someone else having to pick up for you.

“When you say you’re going to do something and you don’t do it, or you do a bad job, you are eroding trust and causing anxiety,” she says.

“When you constantly act in a way that is unreliable, the other person has to overcompensate for you. This person is not being nit-picky. They are speaking out loud a need they have and the weaponised incompetence response in this situation is a lack of empathy or care or consideration for their partner.”

After all, if a partner has a job, is social, and can generally function in day to day life outside of the home, there really is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to clean up after themselves.

Or do the dishes “as well” as you can.