Dear Ms. Pollitt, you have got to be kidding. Most of the women I know are primary breadwinners and they do not feel feminist pride in this. They just feel very overworked and overwhelmed most of the time. In almost all cases, they would rather not work at all, since taking care of a home and family is a full-time job, if the woman is to have any leisure time at all. I have worked on many projects in which the woman has an executive role and needs to stay late or has to work on weekends, and it pains me to hear her trying to explain to her children or her husband over the phone why she can't come home. She would rather be home, for sure, but it is clear that the household requires two incomes, and her higher-paying job demands she work longer hours. She cannot afford to walk away, because she is the primary breadwinner and the household income therefore depends upon her!
Does this woman have any time for leisure? Does her husband? Do they have any time for a relaxed afternoon with their children--she does this only at the expense of something else--like having a good meal on the table that evening or forfeiting the idea of clean laundry. She is constantly harried; her children often feel shoved to the outskirts of her life, or if she makes them the center, the entire house goes to pot and chaos reigns. Where is her wife? Most women who work cannot afford household assistants, or housekeepers, or even maids.
I agree that the workplace is still organized as if Mom were at home all the time. However, I would be happy to keep my unequal pay if I could get more time--a four-day week, so that I have two days to clean, make food, run errands and a day of rest with my family. I would like extra time during the holiday season and an extra week of vacation during the summer to tend to things at home.
It absurd to think that housework and maintaining a home that people love to be in is idle work or the work of beasts of burden. Homemaking is hard work, but it is extremely gratifying work, and it also opens the door to thousands of ways in which a woman can be actively creative. That you should think that millions of women celebrate the idea that they should trade that for life in a gray office doing boring tasks, or if not boring, difficult ones, all day and then come home tired to their other full-time job, indicates to me that you are not in touch with the reality of women's lives.
Nov 1 2009 - 12:50pm