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“you know i work all day to get you money to buy your thing”

August 8, 2008

I’ve pulled out some of my books. This stuff – most especially, Sinclair’s piece on choice feminism – has gotten the ball rolling, and i’ve been flipping through, reading, scanning those gender studies and feminism books i’ve kept from college. General report: i’m really glad i’ve held onto them, they’re as good as they were the first time; i’m out of practice reading theory essays, so i have to concentrate on stuff i used to get half-asleep; what terrible timing, i wish i could do some really in-depth responses to both Sinclair and on some of what i’ve been looking at. As it stands, i’m up to my ears at work (f’real! if i disappear, i promise it’s not permanent.) so i haven’t really had the leisure to figure out what i think. I have, however, some less intellectual and more personal thoughts on the subject.

I realized that if i say i want to be a housewife (still really an if, not a when), what i envision is probably not what other people see. Sure, i think of cooking dinner for my honey, cleaning the house, running errands, packing lunches, maybe baking bread for them, and sewing on the side. But i think of “keeping house” in a very broad way. It’s always been a clear part of my image of it that i would (and since i’m making up a future for myself, i’ll pretend i’m not renting) also be the one to mend the fence, build new shelves, paint the living room. I guess i just mean that i view the job of housewife as that of the person who does the chores (vs. makin’ the bacon), not just the “girl chores.”

Part of that is a distinctly class/money issue. That is, my image of the “traditional” (*huge* quotes, meaning housewife/breadwinner model) family means that the woman does the “girl chores” the man makes the money, and the money buys the “boy chores.” Not exclusively, but to say that you could (and it’s really normal to) just pay someone to fix your fence (etc). My personal take on housewifery comes from a sort of thrifty/DIY perspective, which says you have two options: work to pay someone else to do your “chores,” or don’t work in order to have the time to do them yourself. That’s over-simple, extremely. But my point is that unless your partner is making serious money you can’t afford that first option with only one earner. I guess it’s an attempt to say “i’m as valuable as you” in the terms our society gets (money) – that it’s “worth” staying home ’cause i can save as much as i would make. This is not completely valid, but i think that’s where it comes from (it becomes, monetarily, a more valid argument if there are kids in the picture – childcare is expensive).

The second monetary argument i’d like to throw out briefly is part-time employment. I love my job. I’m “making a difference,” my coworkers rock, my company’s cool, it’s moderately interesting. But sometimes i really miss my shitty service job. Because i worked about a 30-hour week. Working full-time has me in a constant state of catch-up, disaster-aversion mode at home. But, also, my home is simple – i don’t need all that time to keep it (frankly i don’t see that ever being the case without children involved), i just need that 10 (etc) hours of so. That’s not a very feasible option for most people, though. The sad thing is that a household that needs two income earners can likely (though not always, i know) spare some of that income – but not half of it! Chances are, though, that moving from, say, full-time (40 hrs) to part-time (20 hrs) will cost you way more than half your income, not to mention benefits, because part-time jobs are typically “lower” than full.

Lady Brett
“A Hard Day’s Night” – The Beatles

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