Women should say NO to unpaid work

Today I want to apologize to my mother for saying all those years when she was alive that ‘she does not work, she is a housewife’. She was given in marriage when she was a 10-year-old child. Since then she woke up at dawn, worked all day to make breakfast for everyone, and then lunch for everyone and then dinner for everyone, she served everyone food,she cleaned everyone’s dishes, she cleaned the house, the courtyard and the garden, she washed everyone’s clothes, she cleaned up everyone’s messes and she made everyone’s beds but she did not get time to go to her bed even at midnight.

My mother often told me that she could earn some money if she worked as a maid in some people’s houses. I laughed at my mother. I could not imagine my mother as other’s housemaid. My father was a renowned physician. He earned a decent amount of money. But the money he earned was HIS money, not my mother’s money. My mother had to beg my father for money. My mother had no rights and no freedom only because she did not have her own money. She could not buy anything she wanted to buy. She could not go anywhere she wanted to go. My father gave her money only when he wanted to give her money. My mother had to do what she was instructed to do with HIS money.

We know they don’t count women’s work but they count on women’s work. We know that the unpaid work done by women is worth $11 trillion. There is a conspiracy to glorify women’s unpaid housework. They have given housework a nice sweet name, it is now ‘homemaking’. They now call housewives ‘homemakers’. But nice names can’t make penniless women happy and satisfied.

Women must have their own money and their own house, so that they do not have to beg anyone for money, so that nobody can ever say to any woman, ‘get out of my house’.

Housework must be shared by all family members. No single person can or should be responsible for all of the household chores and childcare. Women should work for money, HER money.


    • Lola says

      Karen and cgilder, I think you might be missing the point.

      I totally agree that it’s as ridiculous to assume that women should never do housework as it is to assume that women should only do housework. The issue, it seems to me, is that housework is not considered work. And we should all call shenanigans on that shit.

      People ought to recognize housework for what it is,- a job,- and give credit where credit is due.

  1. Karen says

    1) The word “conspiracy” has so much anti-intellectual baggage attached to it, it should probably be avoided most of the time. I’m not saying I don’t believe that an obscene percentage of men believe that women should just do their “duty” as housewives, and not ever complain or expect any sort of compensation, but bringing the word “conspiracy” almost conjures a cartoonish image of men having secret meetings, wringing their hands and stroking their beards, coming up with new (mostly secret) ways to keep women down. I… I really hope we’re not entertaining that notion.
    2) I think that many instances of “should…” should be replaced with “should, if they so choose, have the right to…” One thing that I notice a lot of feminists forget when talking about equal rights is that a right is not the same thing as an obligation. To me, the feminist movement, on the most basic level, should be about ensuring that women have the same opportunities and rights as men. All too often, however, I hear feminists try to push the notion that *every* woman *must* defy the status quo and *refuse* to be a stay-at-home mom and/or do the majority of the housework. If a woman chooses to be a “traditional” housewife, and isn’t forced into the role by anyone, and loves it, and actually feels fulfilled by it… if another woman then tells that first woman that she’s “wrong” for choosing and accepting and embracing the role, that she’s doing harm to the feminist movement, that she *must* break the “chains” and go get a paying job to be a whole person… I know I’ll probably be kicked out of the Women’s Club(TM) for saying this, but that sort of aggressive feminism is exactly the sort of thing that gives feminists a bad name, and is really no better than the man who feels that homemaker is the only valid role for a woman (in both cases, one of the options is treated as inappropriate, and the woman is berated if she wants to pick that option). I know, I know, the mother discussed in this article was forced into the role, starting at a tragically young age, but the article seems to use that (singular, anecdotal) example to make the case that no woman in their right mind would choose (and love) the role of homemaker. Not only is this a step in the wrong direction, it is an insult and disservice to the many wonderful mothers and wives out there who *have* chosen the role, not because it was forced upon them or because they had no other choice, but because it was what they wanted and something they knew they could be amazing at.

    (by the way, I’m not expecting you to actually edit the article, I’m not narcissistic enough to expect my own personal issues with terminology and semantics to dictate the content of articles on controversial issues, I just needed to vent)

    • says

      Actually there are many places in the world where men having secret meetings, wringing their hands and stroking their beards, coming up with new ways to keep women down.

      Don’t blame the feminists. They have opened hundreds of thousands of ‘battered and abused women’s shelter’ all over the world. Many women who choose to be dependent on husbands come often to those shelters. After getting treatment they go back home but return to the shelters again.

      • Karen says

        Are you saying that you honestly believe that *any* woman, *anywhere* in the world, is setting herself up for relentless abuse if she decides to be a mother and wife (and if she loves it) instead of getting a paying job? Based on your own personal anecdotal evidence originating from a specific culture?

        • says

          Many women who are not allowed to get an education and a job having no other options but to financially depend on their husbands. There are women who are educated but decide to stay at home instead of getting a paying job. Many of them love to do it. There are many lucky women who are loved by their husbands and get everything from their husbands whatever they want or they need. Their husbands literally pay for their food and fun, for their clothes,cosmetics,shoes and shelter. But you should know that there are women who are not lucky. There are women who are dependent on their husbands get divorced and live a miserable life. There are women who are abused by their husbands but can’t leave home because they do not have money. Unfortunately in this world, the number of unlucky women is higher than lucky women.

      • parthachakraborti says

        How would you treat women who were brought up to be dependent? They try to protect themselves from physical & mental abuse. They only learn how to fight to survive. Freedom is a luxury they can’t afford.

  2. parthachakraborti says

    My wife is my friend, my lover. We share housework. I love to cook. We both work outside and earn money. Though most people just love it, strangely some envy in a harmful way. I think every woman should have a job. Men hunt for food while women wait in caves with the kids , is primitive.

    • fanty says

      Men hunt for food while women wait in the caves with the kids , is primitive.

      Except that this happens to be a myth. The food that women would gather accounted for 70% of the human diet up until agriculture was invented. Women never sat in caves waiting for the men to return with food, they were always out gathering food because hunting often resulted in failure.

  3. cgilder says

    I agree with Karen. At its core, feminism is about women being able to make choices about how they spend their time, effort, and money. In our family, we are all happier if I am not working. When I worked, I was miserable and felt like I wasn’t doing anything well. I couldn’t do my job well because I was having to deal with family issues, and I wasn’t being a good parent because I was having to spend 8 hours doing not-family things. It wasn’t worth the money.

    Fortunately, we live in one of the 27 community property states in the US. Basically, it means that any assets or debts created by one of the two parties in a marriage belongs equally to both spouses. It doesn’t matter if my husband earns all the money, I “own” an undivided one half of it and anything purchased with it. Same with our house, even though his salary pays the mortgage on it. Its amazingly egalitarian for a state that is ridiculously backwards in almost everything else (Texas).

    • Anat says

      When I worked, I was miserable and felt like I wasn’t doing anything well. I couldn’t do my job well because I was having to deal with family issues, and I wasn’t being a good parent because I was having to spend 8 hours doing not-family things. It wasn’t worth the money.

      Was your husband also dealing with family issues during that time? Was your husband not as good a parent? Maybe your work and parenting would have been impacted less had the burden of family issues been shared more equally between the two of you.

      There are risks with unequal distribution of income-generating work and non-income-generating work between spouses. If the income-earning spouse becomes disabled or dies it becomes very hard for the surviving spouse to maintain a reasonable standard of living for the family. After many years out of the work force it is hard to find a job that would generate enough income. (And for many non-earning spouses there is a risk of not being free to leave a relationship that went bad because of economic dependency or just finding oneself without income as the relationship ended.)

      Also, the income-earning spouse is under tremendous pressure to not lose the job – because the family has no alternative income. this may lead to even greater dissociation from dealing with ‘family matters’ so as not to be distracted from the job.

      At the very least, for the sake of everyone involved, the non-earning spouse can help the situation by maintaining and developing marketable skills.

  4. betweenthesedays says

    What cglider says…all of it. I am not oppressed because I work at home, but do not generate income that you can see by the numbers in a bank account. My husband works two jobs for money, comes home and puts it into *our* checking account. I pay *our* bills with it. We each have the right to the money, though consult each other over large purchases because we’re in it together. I go where I want, buy what I want within the budget I set for our family, and expect that everyone help out at home. I don’t get the it’s mine, that’s yours philosophy to marriage.

    Frankly, I think I could do with one less vocal feminist telling me that I’m oppressed because I stay at home with my kids. I thought feminism was about choices for women, not replacing one authoritarian system with another, no matter how enlightened the proponents may claim to be.

    • speedwell says

      Goddamn it, pay attention. The article is not about women like you who are enjoying a relationship of choice and equality. It is about women who are not. You are fortunate. They are oppressed. You chose your arrangement. They were forced into theirs. Kindly stop acting like you’re victimized by authoritarianism when you are quite clearly the beneficiary of feminism.

  5. left0ver1under says

    It gets worse.

    I read an item about the Grameen Bank and microloans in countries like India and Bangladesh. But it wasn’t just the positive effect of the loans that was noticeable but who was doing the work and how work was distributed. I wanted to post a link but couldn’t find one quickly.

    In many poor countries, most of the users of microloans building small businesses are women. Not only are the women doing all the housework, they are running the small businesses, and feeding the family. That seemed to be a trend in “traditional” muslim countries and India, the men were doing nothing, leeching off the women’s efforts.

  6. sharon says

    Women should work for money, HER money.

    Hmmmm…I agree, but all work should be paid work and be the community’s money legally and in every other practical way. IOW, the community is the unit of production, not any married individual and income is paid to the order of the community and deposited in the community’s account at accessed by members of the community. I can dream, can’t I?

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