Men are being called out by women on TikTok for using ‘weaponised incompetence’ to avoid chores

If a man says he’s not capable of doing an everyday task that most people can do, that’s weaponised incompetence.
Men are being called out by women for using ‘weaponised incompetence to avoid chores
Sally Anscombe

It’s the same old story. A cis-het woman meets a cis-het man, they date, fall in love, decide to move in together, and suddenly he’s unable to take on any of the household chores. There’s now a term for this: weaponised incompetence.

While this sort of behaviour has been happening for decades, if not centuries, the term is a relatively new way to describe the behaviour of (mostly) men who say that they aren’t capable of doing a regular household tasks like cooking, grocery shopping or the laundry, in order to avoid it completely.

In fact, data from a 2021 YouGov survey found that 38% of women who work full time and have a partner say that most of the household chores fall on them, compared to just 9% of men in the same situation.

Now, women are starting to call out men for their lack of responsibility, with videos mentioning the term ‘weaponised incompetence’ receiving over 148 million views on TikTok.

In one video, that has been viewed over 5.5 million times, one TikTok user explains that when she went to bed she asked her partner to clean up some bottles. He did this but he did not clean up any of the dinner dishes.

“So if I asked him, ‘hey I asked you to clean up the kitchen last night, how come you didn’t clean up the kitchen?’ 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 explained.

“That’s weaponised incompetence,” she added. “He’s playing stupid to basically win an argument.”

TikTok content

This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

In response to the video, educator Laura Danger explained that weaponised incompetence is an empathy issue.

“Empathy is the ability to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. That takes forethought, that takes understanding,” she said.

“Either you have empathy and you can put yourself in somebody else’s shoes and you choose not to meet their needs and choose to waste their time, or when someone brings this issue up to you and says, ‘I wish you would be more considerate’, you are choosing not to develop or use the skill of empathy. That is willful ignorance to the harm that you’re doing.”

Danger added that when weaponised incompetence is seen in the home, it means that someone else is going to have to do the tasks that the person displaying weaponised incompetence fails to do or does poorly.

TikTok content

This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

“If you fail to put away a pan or put away the food, you are demanding that the other person clean and put away the pan when they wake up. You are taking their time,” she continued.

“When you say you’re going to do something and you don’t do it or you do a bad job, you are eroding their trust and causing them anxiety. 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 that they have, and the weaponised incompetence response in this situation is a lack of empathy or care or consideration for their partner.”

TikTok users were quick to comment with their own experiences of weaponised incompetence.

“My therapist helped me realise that I wasn't asking too much. He'd have to do those things if he lived alone, so why would my presence change that?” one person wrote.

“This behavior right here is why I’ve filed for divorce. My soon to be ex NEVER helped unless I specifically asked him to do a task. It’s exhausting,” another added.

This is just one of the thousands of videos on TikTok of women speaking about their experiences of weaponised incompetence. Men, please do better.