Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Romanticization of Work

Lately it seems I've been hearing a lot of feminists talk about how women who don't continue to work full-time after having children are leeches on society and pawns of the patriarchy. I've heard it on NPR and read it in a few places. This disturbs me for two big reasons:

1. Women at work can be just as stuck as women at home. Dear Important Lawyer Woman who argued on NPR that "There's a lot of great work going on in the world": You are perhaps lucky that you've never been stuck in a dysfunctional workplace where your intellect is under-employed. Perhaps you come from wealth and have never needed to keep a job for the pay. I would argue that at least 75% of jobs suck, and suck the life out of the employee. Maybe the woman working 3 shifts at Wal-Mart would disagree with you. We can be just as exploited in the workforce as at home.

2. Why are we devaluing the important work of child-rearing (which someone still has to do, it just gets hired out), cooking, and making a home?

Yes, it's a Big Problem if staying home barefoot and pregnant is the only option, or the Expected Option, or if women expect a "free ride". But for some women there is choice, and freedom to choose a mix, or even staying home altogether. I know at least one working mom who hates having her tiny child in the care of others more often than in her own care. It's not an easy decision for anyone, in either direction.


Narya said...

Not surprisingly, I have Opinions about this.

however, it's late, and I must sleep, else i will be unable to communicate said opinions in a way that makes any sense at all.

kStyle said...

I look forward to hearing your Opinions.

Narya said...

The short version is that it's a way to keep women fighting each other rather than fighting, say, patriarchy. I completely agree that raising kids is Work (see Brazen Tart's most recent activities in this regard . . .). And you're absolutely right that work-for-pay can be every bit as exploitative. Another thing? Many MEN would like to be (or, in the case of some of my friends, have) been stay-at-home parents for awhile. The problem is that so much work that's out there sucks people's souls and time and energy. Thus, when someone wants to work a more reasonable schedule, in order to incorporate the work of raising a family as well, their coworkers are resentful, because it only means more work for the coworkers. meanwhile, the rich people hire someone to do the work they don't want to do. Keep in mind there was a spate of articles a couple of years ago about all these high-power women who decided to chuck the workplace and be mommies--more of the same thing. (Many then become Executive Mothers, managing their children's lives . . .)

women can't win in any of these scenarios. IBTP.

kStyle said...

Exactly: Women can't win.

I need a nap.

Narya said...

I've got an extra one you can have.

kStyle said...

Awesome. Thanks. :)