It’s not so much “having it all” as it is “how’s it all going to get done.”
Because this is the problem. It all needs to get done– the child care, the cooking, the shopping, the sex, the yard and the garden. The commute and the job; the vacation and the “me time.”
Just because I’m a liberated woman, married to a liberated man, and raising liberated children doesn’t mean the world has somehow liberated itself from the need to eat and clean.
Hiring a cleaning lady and eating at restaurants doesn’t count. For one thing, it just reassigns the work; it doesn’t make it go away. For another, those options come with significant cost in both money and time.
What we have done as a society is to reassign, not just the work, but the value. We have decided that activities comprising housewifery are not valuable. And I’m not talking about the trope that we deeply honor traditional “choices.” I’m talking we literally place no value on it, as in “not included in the GDP” unless you pay cash money for it (i.e. cleaning ladies and restaurants, not that anyone who isn’t seeking a high level political appointment is actually declaring their cleaning lady’s income on their tax returns).
Labor is no longer, can no longer, be divided in industrial societies by gender. That horse has left the barn. So now it’s divided either socio-economically (there’s that cleaning lady again), or inefficiently, household by household. At my house I do all the cooking, and he does all the dish washing. At your house he does all the car pooling, and you do all the teacher conferences. Across the street, she mows the lawn, and he does the laundry.
Of course, if there is no “he” to go with the “she” (or vice versa), the division becomes more challenging still. If the head of that household is your cleaning lady it’s more complicated still, with a nice political guilt trip thrown in.
Well off women can catch a little break, as can families willing to sacrifice prosperity (i.e. double income) to living traditional gender divisions. Families whose income derives from a source other than wage labor–farmers, craftspeople, shopkeepers (the old fashioned kind, that own their shops), can find it easier to make sensible labor divisions, although I think in these families you’re still more likely than in the past to see him cooking and her feeding the livestock, or driving the tractor, or stocking the shelves.
Perhaps the culprit is not the loss of God in industrial lives, or the greed and hubris of feminists, or the lure of the double income or the need to do something with that PhD. Perhaps the culprit is time, specifically time that we spend in cars. Get rid of the commute, and the car pool, and the after school activities, and the remote far flung grocery stores, and it will be easier to divide our time among the labors that we need to live.
The labor will be divided, because the work has to be done. Maybe, if we did it a little closer to home, it would be easier.
Read Full Post »