Women lead in unpaid work

Women earn less than men for similar work, and also do more work for free. Around the world, women spend more time on childcare, cooking and cleaning — all for no pay — than men.

On child care in particular, mothers spend more than twice as much time per day as fathers do: 1 hour 40 minutes for mothers, on average, compared to 42 minutes for fathers.

The numbers vary, of course, depending on whether each parent also has a paid job, but perhaps not by as much as you’d think, especially for the men. On average, working fathers spend only 10 minutes more per day on child care when they are not working, whereas working mothers spend nearly twice as much time (144 minutes vs. 74) when not working.

Female hourly-wage workers also aren’t paid as well as men for similar work.

Author: has written 5267 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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78 Responses

  1. Fingon Celebrindal
    Fingon Celebrindal March 15, 2011 at 11:24 am |

    Since you are taking a gendered approach to work, men do mining, fishing, building roads and bridges, building houses, installing toliets, making cars, I could go on and on. Do you think women work more than they consume the benefits of all the work that men do ?

  2. auditorydamage
    auditorydamage March 15, 2011 at 11:30 am |

    Wanted to post “in before idiot MRA tries to move the goalposts/recast the issue/deny patriarchy and gender bias in hiring and socialized career expectations/etc.”… no such luck.

  3. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 15, 2011 at 11:40 am |

    I’m sure the MRA believes in gender bias in hiring – I just don’t think it has any basis in reality.

    Do the numbers seem especially low to anyone? I guess I’m thinking more of my mom/dad-friends with toddlers, and the Times must be averaging across kids aged 0-18. I wonder if the disparity would grow the younger the child.

  4. Amberbug
    Amberbug March 15, 2011 at 11:46 am |

    @Fingon: Women have to pay for this ‘consumption’ of the benefits of the work ALL people do. Do you think women don’t do any of those jobs? Do you think men don’t get the benefits of women’s paid AND unpaid work? And finally, those ‘men’ get paid. Kinda a big point of the article, don’t you think?

  5. Lora
    Lora March 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm |

    C&En News just released the data from 2009 on new hires from the field of chemistry. It seems that a woman with a master’s degree gets paid as much as a guy with a bachelor’s – about 25% less. I am not sure if this article is free access but if not I can try to figure out how to show anyone interested the tables and figures. The numbers are even worse when we look at sub-fields of chemistry (Bachelor’s starting in research: men starting at $53,000 women at $38,100; ‘professional services, men starting at $62,500 women at $43,000, etc.)

    So, really… why bother getting a higher degree. You can have your behind psychologically slapped in a scientific field or physically slapped waitressing at a bar.

    http://pubs.acs.org/cen/acsnews/89/8911acs1.html?featured=1

  6. C...
    C... March 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm |

    Boy, you lucky parents who have kids that go to bed at 8pm sharp. My autistic son won’t sleep before 11pm half the time not because he simply refuses to but because he’s like me. He’ll be up at 4AM or earlier if he goes to bed that early and he’ll have a terrible day at school the following day. My child care does not stop at 8pm. I have to play and read until near midnight. My ex husband on the hand seldom does because he leaves our son with his mother when it’s his turn to keep him. Yeah how many of you guys will admit you do that?

  7. Alison
    Alison March 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm |

    auditorydamage:
    Wanted to post “in before idiot MRA tries to move the goalposts/recast the issue/deny patriarchy and gender bias in hiring and socialized career expectations/etc.”… no such luck.

    Not only do they work harder than us, they are apparently way better at blog-commenting! GIVE THEM MORE MONEY!

    Ugh. I’ve formulated a dozen responses of varying snark-levels to that comment, but just typing them up feels like too much energy to spend on such a piece of shit.

  8. Sid
    Sid March 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm |

    The paper is indeed considering ages 0-18 ex. for Australia and Canada where it is up to 15.

  9. Girl from Ontario
    Girl from Ontario March 15, 2011 at 12:43 pm |

    The comment made by the MRA reminded me of an argument made in a debate round about abolishing spousal support payments/alimony. The opposition argued that domestic work has real economic value and that the free labour that the “breadwinner” has been receiving up until that point has been hugely valuable in allowing them to advance in their career. The government side’s response to this argument was “but childcare and housework are things you do because you love your family!” and thus shouldn’t be thought of as “work” that has monetary value. Domestic work is an entitlement, whereas paid work is a precious commodity that we should all be eternally grateful for. Right, gotcha.

  10. Emeryn
    Emeryn March 15, 2011 at 1:43 pm |

    Girl from Ontario: The comment made by the MRA reminded me of an argument made in a debate round about abolishing spousal support payments/alimony. The opposition argued that domestic work has real economic value and that the free labour that the “breadwinner” has been receiving up until that point has been hugely valuable in allowing them to advance in their career.

    Not to mention the fact that oftentimes, the non-”breadwinner” spouse leaves a career/education/etc to do that domestic work. I know in my career field (technology), if I left it to be a stay-at-home housewife/mother and my husband and I broke up afterwards, it would be incredibly hard for me to find a job in my field. The alimony/spousal support would be necessary, especially for while I’d take classes and struggle to find employment… only to not get paid nearly as much as a man would for the same job.

    I’ve firsthand seen the pay gap. At my old employer (which I left because I was sexually assaulted at work and they never took it seriously) I was the lowest paid employee (also the only female…) in my department. I was searching for employment elsewhere even before my assault because they were hiring new male employees with less experience and education than me for more than I was being paid… after I’d been there for over two years and had all of my evaluations be “far beyond expectations.” Not to mention I’d never received a raise, though my male counterparts all received raises. They explained it to me as “budget cuts”.

  11. ballgame
    ballgame March 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm |

    This constant drumbeat that “women are paid less than men!” without bothering to note that women (as a group) do different jobs than men is one of the most disingenuous things about gynocentric feminism.

    The fact that the men and women in one of the studies you cite are in the same industry does not mean they are doing “similar work,” Jill. As the article itself notes:

    Remember, though, that these figures are grouped by industry and not by occupation.

    As I’ve noted before, the CONSAD study is the most comprehensive study on the topic that I’ve seen, and it found that women make at least 93%-95% of what men make once you take all divergent factors into account (beyond just gender). That study notes that there are 14 different factors affecting the difference in wages that men and women earn. The biggest factor is career interruptions (i.e. typically women stepping away from their jobs to bear and raise children). There is also the not-incidental fact that men (overall) work more physically burdensome jobs which also happen to be eight times as lethal as the jobs that women work.

    (My comment is confined to the situation in the U.S., though I suspect the situation is very similar in other countries in the industrialized West.)

  12. DP
    DP March 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm |

    I often wonder how differing people’s standards come into this. It’s not necessarily gendered, though it can be – I’ve seen a many a woman cleaning up her non-live-in boyfriend’s apartment, either out of exasperation, shaming or boredom.

    I believe studies show that a single woman does, on average, 10 hours a week of housework; the average single man, 7. If we assume that an hour of work from both goes the same distance in terms of cleanliness, you could postulate that the average woman is 3/10ths neater than the average dude.

    I know the perception that the opposite partner is fighting them on chores is a major stressor for marriages. The general trope is he thinks she’s nagging him, while she thinks he’s a slob, but it can be reversed or mixed up.

    I guess the point I’m making is – this needs to be solved by negotiation. People have to meet each other halfway. If you’re the kind of person who does the dishes every two days and vacuums twice a month, you’re going to run into issues with the person who dusts biweekly and has color-coordinated dishrags.

    Neither person has an absolute right to enforce their standards or lack thereof on the opposite party, it has to be negotiated and people have to take responsibility for their own desires. If I want the house vacuumed weekly, it’s not fair for me tell my partner who only vacuumed after parties to take on that chore fully.

    Undoubtedly, there are gendered pressures – a woman is judged on a messy home where the man is given a pass or ignored. But I think that we need to get past the idea that there is one standard for cleanliness/organization in a home; a certain bare acceptable minimum, surely, but there are infinite gradations above that. My grandfather used to pencil marks around stuff on the shelves, pick them up, clean and put them back down before erasing the marks – that level of anal-retentiveness drove my grandmother insane, because she simply couldn’t handle it.

  13. Jadey
    Jadey March 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm |

    Jill: I can’t get past the subscription wall to the actual research paper the Times is summarizing, but the numbers don’t seem that low if you consider it’s kids 0-18, and take into account the fact that parents work. If you’re working 9-5, you aren’t home until 6; even if you have a small child, that’s only going to be an hour or two of childcare time in the evening before the kid goes to bed (and some of that time will be spent making dinner, cleaning, etc — things that aren’t strictly childcare).

    I accessed the original article at work. The article acknowledges that data on time spent on childcare was complicated to acquire because childcare was often combined with other activities as a secondary activity and can be described as either active or passive. One hour and 12 minutes was the average across countries in terms of time spent on childcare as a primary activity, but looking at it in terms of time spent with a child this average jumped to 4 hours. So the estimate depends on how you define “childcare”.

  14. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm |

    LOL @ “gynocentric.”

    :( @ “insane”

  15. DP
    DP March 15, 2011 at 2:34 pm |

    Not literally.

    She’s outlived him by a solid 30 years at this point, so I guess all the OCD ((or whatever it was) did him in before it got to her.

    PrettyAmiable:
    LOL @ “gynocentric.”

    :( @ “insane”

  16. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband March 15, 2011 at 2:56 pm |

    Sure. Because gender norms don’t impact what types of jobs women take or the responsibilities women in those positions are given.

    Not at all.

  17. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos March 15, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

    Because gender norms don’t impact what types of jobs women take or the responsibilities women in those positions are given.

    Oh, don’t go getting all reality-based on Ballgame! Bigotry doesn’t exist unless HE’S the victim. And, since he’s not a woman, no sexual discrimination exists. Unless it’s (imaginary) discrimination against men in this gynocentric matriarchy we live in!

  18. Marle
    Marle March 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm |

    Girl from Ontario: The comment made by the MRA reminded me of an argument made in a debate round about abolishing spousal support payments/alimony. The opposition argued that domestic work has real economic value and that the free labour that the “breadwinner” has been receiving up until that point has been hugely valuable in allowing them to advance in their career. The government side’s response to this argument was “but childcare and housework are things you do because you love your family!” and thus shouldn’t be thought of as “work” that has monetary value. Domestic work is an entitlement, whereas paid work is a precious commodity that we should all be eternally grateful for. Right, gotcha.

    The problem is that unpaid labor is so hard to quantify into numbers. And that most people won’t try and people will outright laugh when you do (remember those calculations that stay-at-home-moms are worth $150k a year? and how people responded?). A good “housewife” is incredibly valuable in a home – but we have no way to measure what is “good” and how valuable that is. Alimony wasn’t perfect either, it was basically just chivalry in a time when women were actively prevented from having careers and supporting ourselves. We need a new system, and a new way of getting society to look at unpaid labor. I have no idea where to even start though.

    DP

    I guess the point I’m making is – this needs to be solved by negotiation. People have to meet each other halfway.

    Speaking as a women in a marriage where housework is a problem, and talking to other women in marriages where housework is a problem, if what you say worked there never would be problems. Everyone starts with negotiation. Most everyone agrees to go halfway. But it doesn’t happen. You make a chore chart spelling things out 50/50, but then it just doesn’t happen anywhere near 50/50. It’s different reasons everytime, but the end is the same. If negotiations and meeting each other halfway will work for a couple, then they’re the type of people to just do 50% of the housework each and never fight about it. For the rest of us, it’s about figuring out what 10% or 20% of the housework we can get him to do that will be enough to make us stop yelling at him. I do blame socialization and sexism. You couldn’t have this happen in so many couples if it wasn’t.

  19. Girl from Ontario
    Girl from Ontario March 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm |

    “This constant drumbeat that “women are paid less than men!” without bothering to note that women (as a group) do different jobs than men is one of the most disingenuous things about gynocentric feminism.”

    First, “gynocentric”? I’m really uncomfortable seeing female anatomy being used as a putdown, especially in a feminist space. Second, it is completely true that our workplaces are largely sex-segregated. The problem is, even when two jobs involve the same workplace, the same level of education and training, and similar skill sets, the “male” job pays better than the “female” job. Let’s use a grocery or department store as an example. There are usually two types of jobs: People who check out customer’s items, and people who stock the shelves. Cashiers are usually female and stockers are usually male. Stockers can earn up to 3 dollars more an hour than cashiers, who are rarely if ever paid better than minimum wage. What is so much more complicated/important/dangerous about their job? Nothing. Putting things on shelves, lifting boxes, and setting up displays should not warrant higher pay than scanning, bagging, and checking out customer’s items. They are similar jobs. But one receives higher pay than the other, and the people in that higher paying job are almost always male. This is what I assume Jill was talking about when she said “similar work”.

    “As I’ve noted before, the CONSAD study is the most comprehensive study on the topic that I’ve seen, and it found that women make at least 93%-95% of what men make once you take all divergent factors into account (beyond just gender). That study notes that there are 14 different factors affecting the difference in wages that men and women earn. The biggest factor is career interruptions (i.e. typically women stepping away from their jobs to bear and raise children). There is also the not-incidental fact that men (overall) work more physically burdensome jobs which also happen to be eight times as lethal as the jobs that women work.”

    Of course there are factors as to why women earn less than men; that’s not really what’s in dispute. What’s important is talking about these factors through a feminist lens. Men and women should be taking equal amounts of time off in order to raise their children; they are both equally responsible for their children’s existence, after all. There should be relatively equal amounts of men and women in “hazardous” and physically rigorous jobs. In fact, our workplaces shouldn’t be sex-segregated at all, because when they are, they economically advantage one sex over the other.To further solidify my point, notice that “construction” boasts the smallest pay gap between male and female. I imagine this is because there are no “male” or “female” jobs in that profession; everyone works towards getting a project done, and pretty much everyone has the same title. If you are a female in that profession, you are doing the same thing all the men are doing and with the same title, hence, negligible difference in pay. There is a lot to talk about and consider, but it doesn’t mean that Jill’s original points aren’t valid.

    “Not to mention the fact that oftentimes, the non-”breadwinner” spouse leaves a career/education/etc to do that domestic work. I know in my career field (technology), if I left it to be a stay-at-home housewife/mother and my husband and I broke up afterwards, it would be incredibly hard for me to find a job in my field. The alimony/spousal support would be necessary, especially for while I’d take classes and struggle to find employment… only to not get paid nearly as much as a man would for the same job.”

    This is an extremely good point, and was actually the other half of opposition’s argument in the debate I mentioned. The caregiving spouse shouldn’t be left with nothing just because they didn’t bring home an income. Even if they do receive half of all the couple’s assets, they are still at a huge disadvantage relative to the breadwinning spouse because their opportunity to regenerate the wealth they lost in the divorce has been severely stunted.

  20. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm |

    As I’ve noted before, the CONSAD study is the most comprehensive study on the topic that I’ve seen, and it found that women make at least 93%-95% of what men make once you take all divergent factors into account (beyond just gender).

    So you’re okay with a 5-8% difference based on gender? Nice. Now, is that a phallocentric or a phallocratic bias?

  21. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm |

    We need a new system, and a new way of getting society to look at unpaid labor. I have no idea where to even start though.

    Stop marrying men. Renegotiate *that* relationship so that it is fiscally transparent.

  22. jjuliaava
    jjuliaava March 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm |

    Jill: I can’t get past the subscription wall to the actual research paper the Times is summarizing, but the numbers don’t seem that low if you consider it’s kids 0-18, and take into account the fact that parents work. If you’re working 9-5, you aren’t home until 6; even if you have a small child, that’s only going to be an hour or two of childcare time in the evening before the kid goes to bed (and some of that time will be spent making dinner, cleaning, etc — things that aren’t strictly childcare).

    Yes 9-5 with only a few hours of evening childcare if you’re averaging, but I think were we to narrow the scope to the first 6 years where the child is not in school, or to account for all children 0 to umm say 12/14 (when they may need supervision) during summer, springbreak, holidays et c. and consider the cost of pre-K/summer camp, I believe the number is significantly low. Not to mention, that evening childcare is not the sole childcare a parent does, there are mornings, as well!

  23. hump day « hahayourefunny
    hump day « hahayourefunny March 15, 2011 at 4:00 pm |

    [...] Feministe, women lead in unpaid work. shocking, i know: Women earn less than men for similar work, and also do more work for free. [...]

  24. DP
    DP March 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm |

    DP

    Speaking as a women in a marriage where housework is a problem, and talking to other women in marriages where housework is a problem, if what you say worked there never would be problems.Everyone starts with negotiation.Most everyone agrees to go halfway.But it doesn’t happen.You make a chore chart spelling things out 50/50, but then it just doesn’t happen anywhere near 50/50.It’s different reasons everytime, but the end is the same.If negotiations and meeting each other halfway will work for a couple, then they’re the type of people to just do 50% of the housework each and never fight about it.For the rest of us, it’s about figuring out what 10% or 20% of the housework we can get him to do that will be enough to make us stop yelling at him.I do blame socialization and sexism.You couldn’t have this happen in so many couples if it wasn’t.

    Well, I’m young yet, getting married soon – and I’ll gladly concede there could be stars in my eyes over this. Maybe a simple rational discussion just isn’t enough to beat through the enculturated lesson that men shouldn’t do “a woman’s work.”

    I do think saying 50-50 is part of the problem, though. My point was, in your case – maybe your 50 percent is not the same as his 50 percent? That sounds weird, but; if one person’ standards are, say, twice as high as the others, then someone could do as much or more work as they used to and still fall short.

    If, for instance, you want, I don’t know – glasses stacked in a particular fashion or shirts ironed or something else that they never cared about, and you tell them they’re obliged to do 50% of that, it will generate tension. I think a lot of people find themselves wondering – if I can’t ever live up to the standards set by my wife or husband, why should I even bother?

    It sounds like I’m projecting here but I’m actually probably slightly neater, in the end, than my fiancee. My point is that I’d never expect her to know exactly how I like to arrange my bar or vacuum the living room’s corners and she doesn’t expect me to know how to arrange closets or organize her desk space.

    I don’t know if this makes any sense. What I’m trying to articulate is, I think in the end – maybe in order for women and men to do the same amount of housework, we need to settle for a lower overall amount of housework; or settle for an unequal distribution based on the fact that *on average*, we have different priorities.

  25. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband March 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm |

    DP,

    Speaking as a man who has lived in this situation for years, let me disabuse you of the notion that “lowering standards” is the easy solution. Preferences on chores are not simple on/off switches. They may be for some people, but for most it is more complex than that. You cannot make socks on the floor or dishes in the sink stop irritating you and the other person may have difficulty stopping what is often and unconscious act.

    In my experience compromise over household chores requires patience, a willingness to discuss when you want the other person to do or remember to do something or vice versa, patience, a willingness to adjust to another person’s *higher* standards, patience, a willingness to speak up when you are feeling overwhelmed or under-supported, patience, a willingness to hear the other persons’s criticism without feeling criticized. And also patience.

  26. r.t.
    r.t. March 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm |

    Boy, you lucky parents who have kids that go to bed at 8pm sharp. My autistic son won’t sleep before 11pm half the time not because he simply refuses to but because he’s like me. He’ll be up at 4AM or earlier if he goes to bed that early and he’ll have a terrible day at school the following day. My child care does not stop at 8pm. I have to play and read until near midnight. My ex husband on the hand seldom does because he leaves our son with his mother when it’s his turn to keep him. Yeah how many of you guys will admit you do that?

    I’m autistic, and I’m tired of these woe is me parents who think they have it so tough, well I’m sure your life is so hard compared to the life your son will experience.

    Enjoy your martyrdom.

  27. Emma
    Emma March 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm |

    Fingon Celebrindal:
    Since you are taking a gendered approach to work, men do mining, fishing, building roads and bridges, building houses, installing toliets, making cars, I could go on and on. Do you think women work more than they consume the benefits of all the work that men do ?

    The majority of those things are paid for, and women who do those things alongside men are paid less for it. Don’t generalize the “type” of work men and women do or belittle different types of work, it’s degrading to both sexes. That goes for Jill, too, because it cannot be assumed that women who spend more work on childcare do more work overall than men. It simply happens to be in a different sphere (if I must use 19th and early 20th century lanugage). The wage difference is degrading, but it shouldn’t be an issue of “who does what” since construction workers and teachers in different parts of the country, of course, don’t expect the same pay, but construction workers starting at the same company in the same position should be paid the same.

  28. r.t.
    r.t. March 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm |

    C…:
    Boy, you lucky parents who have kids that go to bed at 8pm sharp.My autistic son won’t sleep before 11pm half the time not because he simply refuses to but because he’s like me. He’ll be up at 4AM or earlier if he goes to bed that early and he’ll have a terrible day at school the following day. My child care does not stop at 8pm. I have to play and read until near midnight.My ex husband on the hand seldom does because he leaves our son with his mother when it’s his turn to keep him.Yeah how many of you guys will admit you do that?

    As an autistic person I’m having a problem with your comment. I constantly hear from woe is me type parents with autistic children who think they have it tough.

    No the person who has it tough is your autistic child. They will have a tough childhood and a tough life as an adult because no matter how well an autistic person learns to pass, neurotypicals will key in on the slight signs that informs them that you are different from them, and they’ll give you hell for it. Harassment, bullying, lack of promotions, and your medical records, no matter how “confidential” they’re supposed to be will be used against you. Also have fun getting health insurance, and thus healthcare, because you are an unwanted type of person.

    So before you as a parent martyr yourself for the sake of other neurotypical parents, make sure that your child has a good childhood and good education so by the time they get through childhood and all the harassment and bullying they’ll receive from peers and adults alike, they’ll have a minimal amount of mental illnesses due to being treated as an unwanted person.

  29. r.t.
    r.t. March 15, 2011 at 5:18 pm |

    pretend comment 27 doesn’t exist, it was a mistake.

  30. Asinknits
    Asinknits March 15, 2011 at 5:57 pm |

    Hours of housework performed have already declined over time. I can’t see how doing less housework again solves this problem.

  31. RD
    RD March 15, 2011 at 7:18 pm |

    Fingon Celebrindal:
    Since you are taking a gendered approach to work, men do mining, fishing, building roads and bridges, building houses, installing toliets, making cars, I could go on and on. Do you think women work more than they consume the benefits of all the work that men do ?

    Yes, I do.

    In addition to unpaid domestic work, think about who makes your clothes, sucks your cocks, who’ll be wiping your ass when you’re old, etc.

  32. Athena
    Athena March 15, 2011 at 7:39 pm |

    Q Grrl: Stop marrying men.Renegotiate *that* relationship so that it is fiscally transparent.

    Stop marrying men. Nice. And we wonder why more and more women are distancing themselves from feminism, or hate being called feminists.

  33. RD
    RD March 15, 2011 at 7:43 pm |

    ballgame:
    There is also the not-incidental fact that men (overall) work more physically burdensome jobs which also happen to be eight times as lethal as the jobs that women work.

    Mmmm I think you should try sucking cock for a living.

  34. David
    David March 15, 2011 at 9:14 pm |

    I’m a firm believer that marriage is for sentimental suckers anyway, so I don’t think it would bother me if more women decided that marrying men was a bad idea.

    Marrying anyone is likely a bad idea.

  35. Mandolin
    Mandolin March 15, 2011 at 9:39 pm |

    Does nursing count as a physically demanding job? Bet it isn’t counted, but it is one.

  36. DP
    DP March 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm |

    Kristen J.’s Husband:
    DP,

    Speaking as a man who has lived in this situation for years, let me disabuse you of the notion that “lowering standards” is the easy solution.Preferences on chores are not simple on/off switches.They may be for some people, but for most it is more complex than that.You cannot make socks on the floor or dishes in the sink stop irritating you and the other person may have difficulty stopping what is often and unconscious act.

    In my experience compromise over household chores requires patience, a willingness to discuss when you want the other person to do or remember to do something or vice versa, patience, a willingness to adjust to another person’s *higher* standards, patience, a willingness to speak up when you are feeling overwhelmed or under-supported, patience, a willingness to hear the other persons’s criticism without feeling criticized.And also patience.

    Patience….got it ;)

    I’d write more but there are dishes to do…

  37. Caity
    Caity March 15, 2011 at 11:03 pm |

    We’re #1! We’re #1! We’re #1!

    Wait a sec…that’s a bad thing.

  38. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 16, 2011 at 7:29 am |

    Stop marrying men. Nice. And we wonder why more and more women are distancing themselves from feminism, or hate being called feminists.

    LOLZ. You must have missed the part where I said something about renegotiating the relationship.

  39. saurus
    saurus March 16, 2011 at 8:08 am |

    DP: Patience….got it ;)

    I’d write more but there are dishes to do…

    DP, this is in response to all your comments in the thread. I thought I’d share an anecdote – I identify as female, my partner identifies as male, and we’ve been living together for a few years. We have a great, supportive relationship, but housework & cooking labor is something we’ve never agreed on.

    First, unlike your examples, I’m not picky. I don’t need my spices to be arranged by color and I don’t iron my towels. In fact, I am decidedly on the “messy” side of the neat-messy spectrum. I have pretty low standard for cleanliness: we vaccuum once a week (if things get busy, it ends up being once every couple weeks, and neither of us cares that much). We mop once a month, if we’re lucky. We do dishes every day, but rarely clean out the whole sink of them. And so on. Basically we are keeping our apartment from becoming a pigsty, but that’s it. We’re both pretty content in this regard.

    Actually, scratch that – I’m content. He’s not. He’ll complain that things aren’t clean enough, but he’ll never actually lift a finger to clean more. He feels entitled to a cleaner home, but he has no intention of being the one to make that happen. I am always the one who cleans the rooms, wipes stuff down, puts things away, clears out the sink of dishes – he just vaccuums twice a month and calls it a day.

    I don’t think he directly thinks, “This is women’s work and I’m not doing it.” I think he thinks, “I don’t want to do that cleaning, but I want it to get done.” and then doesn’t follow his thought to the logical, tacit conclusion: that the duty rests on me.

    When I point this out, or when I ask him to help out more with the domestic labor, what happens? Well, he resists – because he believes that not only is he doing enough, he’s doing *more* than me!

    In his head, his chores:

    + Laundry – 2 hours every 2 weeks
    + Vaccuuming – 20min every 1-2 weeks
    + Taking out garbage – 5min every 2 days
    + Taking out recycling – 10min every 2 weeks
    + Cat litter – 5min every day
    + Dishes – 15min every day
    = 240 minutes of labor per week

    Add up to more than mine:

    + Cooking – 1-2 hours, 7 days a week
    + Cleaning everything – 2 hours every 1 week
    + Organizing the recycling – 15min every 1 week
    + Fixing up crap around the house – 1 hour every 2 weeks
    = 795 minutes of labor per week

    You can imagine why – he’s doing a broader range of chores, so he ticks them off in his head and feels like he’s doing a lot. But I’m doing the most time-consuming and difficult labor.

    So not only does he feel that I don’t do as much as him, he also feels like the labor he does makes unreasonable demands on his time. He wants to buy a dishwasher for our little rental apartment because he hates the 15min of dish-washing (remember: we only wash what we need) and he wants to buy a washer and dryer and cram them into our kitchen somehow because he hates going down to the basement to use the building’s laundromat.

    Cooking is obviously the biggest disparity. I hate cooking, and resent being the only person who cooks – it swallows up a lot of my evening, and it requires some planning and effort. He doesn’t have experience cooking, but abjectly refuses to do so unless I choose from two meals: packaged Kraft macaroni and cheese, or grilled cheese. As someone who strongly dislikes the taste of fake cheese and is on a special diet from my doctor, neither are good options for me.

    I’ve encouraged him to learn how to cook; had him help me make things as I’ve guided him, and even sent him simple recipes with the instructions written out in a step-by-step, “beginner-friendly” way. Did I ask him to do 50% of the cooking? No, I told him that even if he could just make meals for 2 days a month when my menstrual pain is worst, I’d be delighted beyond compare.

    But he never does. Once, when I was badgering him about it, he burst out with saying how hard he works all day and how important his free evenings are – never considering how hard I work all day (we both work full-time) or how much I want a free evening too.

    In the end, I think the difference between he and I isn’t how messy or clean we are, because he likes a cleaner house than I do. It’s that he has a sense of indignance towards domestic labor – “this chore is annoying and time-consuming, it’s an outrage that I should have to do it! Why should I be the sucker who does it?” whereas I have a sense of resignation – “this chore is annoying and time-consuming, but I have to do it, so whatever”. I think we were socialized and raised with this difference by virtue of our gender, and it’s hard to override his emotional impulse of “Noooooooo!” when I say our stock of clean underwear is dangerously low.

  40. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband March 16, 2011 at 8:23 am |

    saurus,

    To circle back your comment, I think a lot of the attitudes that some men have toward domestic work results from it being unpaid or underappreciated. I know I was socialized to do tasks for rewards, so annoying tasks with no tangible reward seem particularly onerous to me. That hiccup in my perception as well as in my perception of who is ultimately responsible for making sure things get done were the two most challenging things we had to iron out early in our relationship.

  41. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers March 16, 2011 at 8:30 am |

    Since you are taking a gendered approach to work, men do mining, fishing, building roads and bridges, building houses, installing toliets, making cars, I could go on and on. Do you think women work more than they consume the benefits of all the work that men do ?

    Oh, I know I shouldn’t feed the troll, but the setup is soo good…

    Every single man on this planet (as well as every single woman) was created as the result of between 7-10 (on average, 9) months of physical exertion by a woman. Then, almost every man on this planet experienced between 13 and 18 years where the majority of his food was prepared by a woman, the majority of his clothes were provided to him and kept clean by a woman, the majority of his earliest education (between ages 0-5) if he is not a Westerner and the majority of *all* his childhood education if he is were provided by a woman, most of the process of keeping him safe while he explored the world for himself and developed his brain between the ages of 0-5 was expedited or performed by a woman, and the cleanliness of his home environment was maintained by a woman. Also, a woman probably monitored his health, provided home remedies for his mild illnesses, and arranged for him to receive medical care if his illnesses or injuries were worse than mild.

    After the age of 18, the majority of men (a smaller majority than the prior-mentioned majority… probably more like 60-70% rather than the 80-90% who were cared for by women as a child) live in homes whose basic cleanliness is maintained in large part by a woman, eat food prepared for them mostly by a woman, have their clothes created for them or purchased for them by a woman, who then also maintains the cleanliness of the clothes, and have *their* medical care managed by a woman who arranges for them to see a doctor when they are ill. The fact that these things are done for them frees them to work long hours for pay, because someone is doing large amounts of unpaid work in the background to assist them.

    Finally, all that work that is done on a man’s behalf in his childhood, by a woman, is generally never repaid by him. The person who cares for elderly people is almost always a woman. In nations where daughters are cut off from their own families and “belong” to their husband’s family, the man’s role in caring for his elderly mother is generally that he married a woman to do it and then provides some financial support to her and to his mother, as the mother lives in his house and is cared for by his wife; in the United States, and probably other Western nations, the work is done directly by the man’s sisters unless he hasn’t got any, in which case it’s done by his wife, or Mom goes to a nursing hom. Most men in the US do not provide any financial assistance to their mothers (and do not need to, necessarily, because of our strong Social Security system), and also do not provide any work toward her care.

    So, do the toilets, bridges, houses, fish, etc, outweigh the work women did for the men who performed those tasks, in caring for them until they reached adulthood with *no* recompense from them, either at that time or in the future, whatsoever, or the work done by women who share in the man’s paycheck in exchange for performing large amounts of unpaid labor on behalf of the man? I’d say no. It’s hard to build a bridge if you starved to death in childhood, or never learned how to read or add, or were never born in the first place. While the public works men have created (largely because they wouldn’t let women participate in creating them) are certainly valuable, women create human capital, which is considered more valuable than public works.

    Men’s work makes life more comfortable and convenient for women. Women’s work makes men’s life *possible*. I’d say women’s work is more important. If, you know, you want to go down that road of trying to decide which sex does the more important jobs and which sex is freeloading.

    Or, in other words, if all but 10% of the men died, the human race would struggle to continue as enormous quantities of human knowledge was lost and many people would have to take on work they had no experience with. If all but 10% of the women died, human life would END.

  42. rain
    rain March 16, 2011 at 8:44 am |

    DP @ #13 and #25
    There’s many lively discussions on housework and gender at feminist blogs which counter the “women should lower their standards” argument, among other things. There’s probably one here, but the most recent one that I’m recalling is pandagon’s Because It’s Still Just Mommy:
    http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/because_its_still_just_mommy/
    An oldie but goodie is feministing’s Single Women Do Less Housework:
    http://feministing.com/2007/03/02/single_women_do_less_housework/comment-page-1/#comments

    Comparing the housework done by single men and women is a flawed approach. There could be a number of explanations to account for the difference other than women being neater. Such as the common practice of female relatives (mom) or girlfriends cleaning up after single men. There’s also the fact that, once they get married or live together, many men (I would even venture to say most men) reduce the amount they do because they, and all of society, think it’s their female partner’s responsibility.

  43. Marle
    Marle March 16, 2011 at 10:31 am |

    Q Grrl: LOLZ. You must have missed the part where I said something about renegotiating the relationship.

    Q Grrl, if you talk to women who have this problem, you’ll find that we’ve all tried negotiating. That’s the first thing everyone tries. Your quote “Stop marrying men. Renegotiate *that* relationship so that it is fiscally transparent.” looks like you mean that we should not marry/divorce men who don’t do 50% of the housework, and that’s why you got the response that you did. I think you really just don’t understand what it’s like to live with a man who doesn’t do 50% of the housework. You’d think negotiation would work. You’d think that maybe he has different standards, and you just need to talk it out. You’d think a lot of things, and then you try them all and watch them all not work in different ways, and then what’s left?

    My husband and I actually don’t fight about housework anymore. And that’s because I do it all. Well, he does most of his laundry, he does his cooking (I’m a vegan and he hates vegetables so we’ve always eaten separately, though I’m sure if he even ate things like spaghetti sauce then I’d always cook for him too) and occasionally he will take out the trash if I remind him (though not always even when I remind him, as it didn’t go out for a month recently). However, he’s working 60-80 weeks now, so him doing only slightly less housework than when he was unemployed is much less annoying. On the other hand though, even though he works so many hours, he doesn’t make much money at all (it’s sales. it’s supposed to get a lot better over time, but I am not holding my breath). So all of the bills are my responsibility, and some months he can put some money in, and other months I have to send $500 to the company that sends him sales leads. We’re doing fine financial though, and he loves what he does. But it’s really stressful being both the breadwinner and the homemaker. I really wish I could figure out some better solutions.

  44. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 16, 2011 at 10:48 am |

    Marle: (it’s sales. it’s supposed to get a lot better over time, but I am not holding my breath)

    This is completely OT, but sales sucks.

  45. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos March 16, 2011 at 11:31 am |

    Marle – I respect so much that you can handle that amount of stress. I know I couldn’t.

    ++

    If the choice is between being the breadwinner/homemaker and not being married, and ONE feminist says don’t marry men that won’t negotiate, how does that equal “And we wonder why more and more women are distancing themselves from feminism, or hate being called feminists.”?

    I don’t understand.

  46. nathan
    nathan March 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm |

    So, there was a similar thread to this about six months ago. Same basic conversation. My only comment is that it’s a miracle any of us ever stay together, given how much animosity there seems to be between men and women.

  47. Marle
    Marle March 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm |

    Rare Vos -
    I didn’t make the comment that women are distancing themselves from feminism, though I understand why it was mad. I would actually just say that the idea that women shouldn’t marry men isn’t feminist.

    Also, I have many choices, and staying married despite the current situation is the choice I am choosing over other possiblities. Mostly because I’m pretty sure if I divorced I’d soon find myself married to a different man who didn’t do housework. I
    m just looking for different ways to work things out better in my current situation.

  48. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm |

    Marle: I’m not talking about negotiating housework — that happens regardless of who you partner with. I was responding to a specific comment about unpaid labor.

    Why put yourself in a position that transforms ordinary housework into unpaid labor? Everyone has housework (whether they do it or not). It only becomes unpaid labor at a certain point though, no? That point, IMO, is all too often tied directly to marriage to a man.

  49. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm |

    The idea that women shouldn’t marry men is indeed very feminist. Why wouldn’t it be? I’m not talking about not having romantic/life relationships with men. But maybe that’s what you thought I said?

  50. Marle
    Marle March 16, 2011 at 2:43 pm |

    I’m confused by your comment, q grrl. I don’t know where the line is between “ordinary housework” and “unpaid labor.” Housework is work, as in labor, and it is unpaid (unless you’re a maid, etc). Unless you live alone, doing housework benefits the others you live with, and not doing your share of housework can become a burden to others. I don’t like living alone, and if I did I’d still want to keep my house and my pets and and so my total amount of time on housework wouldn’t drop *that* much, at least not enough to sacrifice the companionship (my husband is better at listening to me talk about my day than the cats). The problem isn’t that I’m doing housework, it’s that he hardly does any of it, yet benefits from what I do.

    It still sounds like you’re saying that women shouldn’t marry men. Which I don’t think is a very practical for many women, and I don’t think it’s really a feminist thing to say.

  51. Marle
    Marle March 16, 2011 at 3:05 pm |

    Q Grrl: The idea that women shouldn’t marry men is indeed very feminist. Why wouldn’t it be? I’m not talking about not having romantic/life relationships with men. But maybe that’s what you thought I said?

    Ok, we crossposted and I didn’t refresh the page and see this post before I commented last.

    For me, and probably many women, a romantic/life partnership involves living with your partner. Whether you’re technically married or not, the housework issues are there. It’s not like my husband got much worse with housework once we married (we lived together for years beforehand). And I wouldn’t want to live in a separate place from him, even though that would fix our housework issues (though it would be a disaster for our finances), and I really don’t think many women want to live separately from their male romantic partner. Obviously not every woman wants to partner with men, and some who do still enjoy having their own place. But a lot continue to want to live with men.

    I think that saying women shouldn’t marry men is just as anti-feminist as saying that women shouldn’t be stay-at-home-moms. I don’t want to exclude myself from living with men because our society is sexist. I want to work to change the sexism.

  52. Fingon Celebrindal
    Fingon Celebrindal March 16, 2011 at 3:15 pm |

    @auditorydamage
    Sorry. My Bad.

    @Amberbug
    @Girl from Ontario
    @Emeryn
    @Emma
    @RD
    @Alara Rogers
    If you live in a house you did not buy, If you spend money someone else made, you are not doing unpaid work.

    @Alison
    Would love to see few of those dozen snarky comments.
    They should be original though, I have got pretty inured to garden variety male shaming tactics.

    1. Chally
      Chally March 16, 2011 at 4:00 pm |

      Let’s all not respond to Fingon, okay? The ridiculousness of that comment is self-evident.

  53. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

    I don’t think I’m articulating my point very well. Household chores only become unpaid labor (as an economic term?) when compared to the gains men make in paid labor because they are not, themselves, doing the unpaid labor. Otherwise they are just a matter of picking up after yourself. I don’t think the average man benefits tremendously, in terms of his own income, from unpaid labor; yet, on average men benefit quite nicely from not having to perform this work themselves. Marriage, as a contract and as a social norm, reinforces and reifies this labor as “responsibility”, “choice”, “division of chores”, etc. It starts between a husband and wife and becomes enmeshed in child rearing, so that what is clearly an unequal distribution of labor, specifically one that is not recompensed, is normalized as a role of “wife” and “motherhood”.

    My thought is that as long as individual women see marriage as an individual choice, unpaid labor will remain unchallenged and problems with unequal distribution will remain firmly in the camp of “marriage difficulties” or “every good marriage requires negotiation.” Now, marriages *do* require negotiation and they *do* have difficulties — all of which has nothing to do with whether women are recompensed for their labor. But it is convenient for those who benefit and profit from this labor to keep reinforcing the issue as one of personal problems within specific marriages, rather than as a larger, very global, social justice issue.

  54. kam
    kam March 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm |

    @Q grrl- I wonder if you considered in you suggestion to stop marrying men until women are able to renegotiate that relationship that, sometimes, it’s difficult to negotiate for a fair division of labor when you are yourself having mixed feelings about the whole issue because you yourself were raised in a patriarchal culture.

    My bf cooks 80% of our meals because he likes cooking and has no stress about screwing it up. When he cooks, I do the dishes, and vice versa. I don’t like cooking for other people because I find it stressful to try and create something that other people will want to eat when I am myself starving. So, I love our labor division, but there’s a part of me that feels like I should be trying to “make up for it”- even though he and I have established that dishes are annoying enough to him that he thinks the trade-off works in his favor. Patriarchal standards are in me, whether or not I want them there.

    In an unrelated note, what is Denmark doing that helps Danish women reduce their unpaid labor, and can that be made to work for other countries?

  55. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm |

    If you live in a house you did not buy, If you spend money someone else made, you are not doing unpaid work.

    Wrong. You *are* doing unpaid work. What you describe is a situation where a man (?) is sharing his house and his salary. That still doesn’t mean that the labor the woman does is paid. Certainly, a house is nice and spending money is nice, but unless you put a per/hour or per/task fee on the labor, how do we know whether the labor is recompensed fairly? And beyond that, how do we tax the benefit the man receives for having the unpaid labor. Surely his ability to *afford* the house is predicated on him having a job that pays him sufficiently — something that would be difficult for most men if they added the responsibility for their own grocery shopping, cleaning, infant and child rearing, laundry, etc. Single men who are successful and don’t have a wife/girlfriend do a straight economic exchange and pay someone (usually a woman) to do these things for them. Why does that change when that woman is a wife? Does a roof over your head just straight up change the financial exchange? Doesn’t that mean that married men are the true gold-diggers?

    Also, a roof over your head should only cost X amount. Most women can afford such a thing on their own; so why trade that for a situation where she has to do *more* labor to get the same result? Also, what about the poster above who is the primary breadwinner *and* the one to do the bulk of the household chores. According to your reasoning, she should be paying her husband to let her do all that work, no?

  56. DP
    DP March 16, 2011 at 3:47 pm |

    saurus: DP, this is in response to all your comments in the thread. I thought I’d share an anecdote – I identify as female, my partner identifies as male, and we’ve been living together for a few years. We have a great, supportive relationship, but housework & cooking labor is something we’ve never agreed on.
    ~anecdote!

    Sorry, I chopped your comment not because it wasn’t interesting – it was, actually! – but because it was long. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing, and while I can’t give you too much advice I do think it’s frustrating when people can’t cook but are picky about food. My dad is that way, and it drove me up the wall, and I learned as many recipes from my mother as I could.

    Thanks for sharing…

    rain:
    DP @ #13 and #25
    There’s many lively discussions on housework and gender at feminist blogs which counter the “women should lower their standards” argument, among other things.There’s probably one here, but the most recent one that I’m recalling is pandagon’s Because It’s Still Just Mommy:
    http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/because_its_still_just_mommy/
    An oldie but goodie is feministing’s Single Women Do Less Housework:
    http://feministing.com/2007/03/02/single_women_do_less_housework/comment-page-1/#comments

    Comparing the housework done by single men and women is a flawed approach.There could be a number of explanations to account for the difference other than women being neater.Such as the common practice of female relatives (mom) or girlfriends cleaning up after single men. There’s also the fact that, once they get married or live together, many men (I would even venture to say most men) reduce the amount they do because they, and all of society, think it’s their female partner’s responsibility.

    I’m going to check these out, may or may not get around to a response.

  57. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 16, 2011 at 3:51 pm |

    Kam — I’m not talking about individual choices made by individual women.

  58. ballgame
    ballgame March 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm |

    Q Grrl:

    So you’re okay with a 5-8% difference based on gender? Nice. Now, is that a phallocentric or a phallocratic bias?

    This is a strawman argument. I’m not “OK” with gender discrimination. Both women and men suffer from job discrimination, depending on the industry and occupation, and I think that’s wrong.

    FTR, I assume that women suffer more job-related discrimination than men — certainly they did in the past — but I haven’t seen the rigorous statistical analysis that would verify it or establish how great the disparity is. The CONSAD study was very careful to point out that women made at least 93% to 95% of what men made when non-gender factors were taken into account. In fact, depending on the statistical approach they used, they actually found that women made somewhat more than men, but that this particular approach involved factors that were not truly independent of each other and therefore could, in effect, be ‘double-counting’ some of their effects. Their 93-95% figure was their conservative ‘floor’ of what women make overall relative to men for the same work … which is why it’s disingenuous to keep repeating the ‘women only make 75¢ for every dollar men make’ mantra without making clear that this is not true of ‘equally qualified people doing the same work.’

    In order to be more definitive about what the gender disparity really is, researchers would need work data that combines greater job longevity and occupational specificity than what they had available. This data does not exist. The CONSAD study is the most definitive study out there about the extent of the overall disparity between equally qualified men and women doing the same work.

    Now, the CONSAD study does not address the equity of how different occupations are paid, a question I’ll pick up on later if I have time (and the continued indulgence of the moderator).

    Girl from Ontario:

    First, “gynocentric”? I’m really uncomfortable seeing female anatomy being used as a putdown, especially in a feminist space.

    I’m guessing that the similarity with ‘gynecology’ is what prompted this remark (as well as Q Grrl’s “phallocentric” remark), but it isn’t a specific reference to anatomy. It just means ‘female-centric’. (The male analog would be ‘androcentric.’)

    Does nursing count as a physically demanding job? Bet it isn’t counted, but it is one.

    Wish I could have taken you up on that bet, Mandolin!

    Hye Jin Rho did some great work exploring the issue of physically stressful jobs when she examined the potential impact of some of the proposed Social Security cuts. I wrote about this back in September. She found that men aged 58 or older were about 15% more likely to be in physically demanding jobs than women in that age category, and they were 50% more likely to hold highly physically demanding jobs than women were.

    So what did she count as physically demanding?

    While many men worked as construction laborers, freight, stock, and material movers, grounds maintenance workers, or taxi or bus drivers, many women worked as cashiers, maids and housekeeping cleaners, cooks, hairstylists, nursing aids, or medical assistants.

    You can look at her list of demanding occupations in more detail in this pdf of her research. (It’s also a great primer about some of the impact of looming attacks on Social Security by the neocons of both parties.) Unfortunately, she based her assessments on information combined from the O*Net and CEPR, and I haven’t been able to drill down on what the overall gender disparity of ‘physically demanding’ work is. But I think it’s pretty safe to say this tilts towards men, given that they get killed on the job eight times as often as women.

  59. rain
    rain March 16, 2011 at 11:37 pm |

    But I think it’s pretty safe to say this tilts towards men, given that they get killed on the job eight times as often as women.

    No need to repeat yourself, got it the first time. Did you miss the colourful and succinct riposte at 34? In greater detail, Echidne of the Snakes’ Dying on the Job. Anti-Feminism and Feminism:

    http://echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.com/2010_12_19_archive.html#8612413775468284057

    As for that CONSAD study you seem fond of flogging across the internet, here’s a critique for those that want less of an anti-feminist bias:

    http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2010/11/26/how-the-consad-report-on-the-wage-gap-masks-sexism-instead-of-measuring-it/

    The first sentence, with “Bush-administration-commissioned study” should be enough to get the red flags waving. Or linking to Christina Hoff Summers as an authority. Calling that study the “most definitive study out there”, holy confirmation bias, batman.

    Not that I’ve slogged through the report or anything, but my impression is that the gender gap is disappeared by characterizing women’s domestic and childcare responsibilities as a lifestyle choice. So if you take time off work or go part-time to look after the kids, that’s a, er, “non-gender factor”. Or, as one commenter here* hilariously put it, “Despite women’s 40-year-old demand for equal wages, millions of women as wives still choose to have no wages at all.”

    *http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2010/04/20/equal-pay-day-a-go-go/

  60. ballgame
    ballgame March 17, 2011 at 8:23 am |

    Did you miss the colourful and succinct riposte at 34?

    The one that didn’t have logic, evidence, or even an argument, rain?

    In greater detail, Echidne of the Snakes’ Dying on the Job. Anti-Feminism and Feminism: …

    Regarding the ‘what about prostitutes?’ issue that is the focus of Echidne’s post: I was going for the whole ‘apples to apples’ thing … quaint, I know. Jill’s OP referred to the relative payment rates for “similar work.” I don’t know what the exact ratio of the typical female prostitute’s hourly wage is to the typical male prostitute’s. I know that many female prostitutes lead marginal lives, but some are extremely well compensated. I suspect that, as a group, female prostitutes have better compensation than male prostitutes. It is, I believe, well known that female actors in adult movies get more money than male actors, for example. I would certainly be interested in any contrary research you’re aware of.

    As for the whole, ‘but the official workplace death rates don’t include what happens to prostitutes!’ angle, that’s true. It’s also true they don’t include what happens to those involved in the illegal narcotics industry. I’m pretty confident that if you include all ‘off the books’ occupations, the male workplace death rate would not only still eclipse the female workplace death rate by a wide margin, it would actually increase significantly.

    As for that CONSAD study you seem fond of flogging across the internet, here’s a critique for those that want less of an anti-feminist bias:

    http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2010/11/26/how-the-consad-report-on-the-wage-gap-masks-sexism-instead-of-measuring-it/

    If by “bias” here you mean, “uses the most rigorous and uncontradicted statistical research out there to demonstrate that the ‘75¢ per dollar for the same work’ meme is a myth,” then, yes, I guess it’s biased. But I agree that reading that post is a good idea. Be sure to read this comment on that thread as well.

  61. umami
    umami March 17, 2011 at 9:03 am |

    shorter ballgame. “I don’t understand systemic discrimination.”

    “non-gender factors”

    Such as, you know, taking time out to look after children. That kind of non-gender factor. Ballgame’s approach is to claim that women choose to take that time out so they’re choosing lower wages blah blah without examining the systemic factors that make it hard for women to not take that time out and difficult for men to take that time if they want to. That’s just one example.

    And the “dangerous jobs” thing is a red herring. Sure it might (possibly– see below) account for a tiny percentage of the pay discrepancy; it isn’t a big enough factor to make it worthwhile bringing it up as often as it does get brought up.

    I’d also like to take note of the fact that the physically demanding jobs that women do, as listed in his own quotes, are mostly the opposite of highly compensated. In fact they are frequently minimum wage. Or, of course, entirely unpaid. So ballgame’s implicit assumption that the market automatically compensates workers for dangerous jobs with higher wages doesn’t stand up to the most basic scrutiny.

  62. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 17, 2011 at 9:33 am |

    Ballgame: I’m confused. Above you are saying that men’s dangerous jobs are not the same than women’s and therefore we can’t compare them (and therefore pay inequality is not inequality?) But then you get to prostitution and you insist on comparing female to male prostitutes. What gives? Am I reading you wrong?

  63. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 17, 2011 at 9:44 am |

    Q Grrl: But then you get to prostitution and you insist on comparing female to male prostitutes. What gives? Am I reading you wrong?

    Obvs the dangers of female prostitution = the dangers of male prostitution, so this is a moot point.

    No, jk, but he’s not going to admit to being flawed so I wanted to get an inb4.

  64. rain
    rain March 17, 2011 at 9:48 am |

    No, by bias I meant that the whole “study” amounts to declaring the wage gap is due to women’s “choices”. To say it’s the most rigorous and uncontradicted makes it sound like the “researchers” discovered something, rather than just repackaged what was already out there to suit their ideology. Your emphasis on uncontradicted is cute; the facts aren’t in contention, but describing a woman leaving or reducing her paid work to raise children as a choice and saying the available choices don’t occur in a sexist framework isn’t factual. Your comments on dangerous jobs and prostitution uses the same tactic, just don’t count what doesn’t suit you. Reminds me of Monty Python:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExWfh6sGyso

    So anyway, I did read your comment at Alas. Before I posted the link, which is why I went ahead and linked. It’s just more of the same MRA drivel and doesn’t affect any of the comments I made. However, I would recommend you read the comments at the Echidne link, because it challenges the whole basis implicit in that dangerous jobs line of argument as it relates to a gender pay gap, that dangerous jobs pay more.

  65. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos March 17, 2011 at 10:08 am |

    The one that didn’t have logic, evidence, or even an argument, rain?

    Translation: It succinctly defeated my point, so I’ll just pretend it didn’t exist.

  66. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos March 17, 2011 at 10:13 am |

    “shorter ballgame. “I don’t understand systemic discrimination.”

    Because he doesn’t have too. It doesn’t affect him, therefore it doesn’t exist!

    And here’s a whole list of red herring excuses as to why not having a penis means you should make less money. But no, wait! You don’t make less money. Except when you do, and then it’s all your own fault. But you don’t make less money for the same job cuz men have it so much harder.

    See? Clear as mud.

  67. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers March 17, 2011 at 10:26 am |

    If you live in a house you did not buy, If you spend money someone else made, you are not doing unpaid work.

    Actually, you are. Because the essence of paid work is that the money is yours and you get credit for it. If you do unpaid work and are allowed to utilize things that belong to other people as a result, they are still things that belong to other people, and if those other people remove those things from you, you have little to no legal recourse.

    Ownership. It is an important concept. Please study it.

  68. Mandolin
    Mandolin March 17, 2011 at 10:28 am |

    Ballgame,

    That’s cool. I just have a friend who works in a burn ward and she takes pretty massive risks. It may not be “fall off a beam and die” but it’s “get bled on in the eye and spend 48 hours wondering what you’ve contracted before the tests come back” and it’s definitely “alas, my perfectly good back is no longer perfectly good.” And I very rarely see (in feminist stuff or elsewhere) people talking about the sheerly physical demands of that job.

    I’m totally up for A) better safety protocols on the job, and B) creating access so women can hold dangerous but masculine jobs as often as men and vice versa. Especially A with bells and whistles and unions like whoa.

    Given what I remember of your political positions, I assume you are pro-those-things, too?

  69. Mandolin
    Mandolin March 17, 2011 at 10:38 am |

    “If you live in a house you did not buy, If you spend money someone else made, you are not doing unpaid work.”

    Okay… but isn’t this post partially about women who are working and spending their own money and helping to buy their houses (what counts as buying the house, btw? How much money do you have to put in? Should I keep track of what % of the house is mine v. his? Basically, most of it is the bank’s), but end up doing most of the housework and childcare also, second shift-wise?

    Additionally, I have 0 problem with couples deciding who takes care of the house/kids and one partner choosing to do it and the money going into a communal pot. Like, frex, if I sell this novel I’m working on and (mayitbe) hit the very very rare publishing jackpot then IMO my husband is entitled to a share of its profits even if I don’t complete or begin marketing it until after we (hypothetically) divorce. Because he materially and practically helps creates the conditions under which it is written.

    But I do know homemakers who aren’t treated as if their contributions to the work of the household merit their participation in its financial rewards. Women who get allowances from wealthy husbands to run the household budget, for instance. That’s technically “spending money someone else made” but it does not necessarily indicate payment; depending on the circumstances, it could indicate an additional duty.

  70. Marle
    Marle March 17, 2011 at 11:04 am |

    First I want to second Q Grrl on the idea that unpaid labor isn’t “really unpaid” if you’re living in a house you didn’t buy, etc. Many women who do more than their fair share also work and contribute their own money to living expenses, and many more worked before (having kids, etc) and contributed to the down payment on the house, mortgage payments, savings accounts, etc. Even if a women hasn’t ever had paid labor and paid for these expenses with her own income, the house and his income still aren’t hers. He can choose to get a divorce at any time, and alimony is basically dead. She’ll get 50% of the assets, but she has no work history and she probably has children to take care of, so she’ll be pretty much financially devastated. I have a friend who is a live-in nanny, and she does exactly what a stay-at-home-mom does, but she has a paycheck that is completely hers, and when she leaves she has a work history so she can get another job. That’s housework as paid labor.

    Q Grrl: Kam — I’m not talking about individual choices made by individual women.

    Q Grrl, I think maybe we have similar goals, but we’re coming from different perspectives and aren’t understanding each other. When you say that women shouldn’t marry men, what exactly do you envision instead? From your other posts, you talk about marriage as a contract starting the problem, but in my experience the marriage license is basically incidental with the problem of unpaid labor, because the same problem exists with couples who live together without being married. So I interpret you saying women shouldn’t marry men as women shouldn’t live with men, which is impractical in my life and the lives of many women, so aiming for that seems completely ineffective to me. In your response to Kam though, you say that it’s not about individual choices by individual women. I’m not quite sure what you’re pushing for. Do you want women and society to understand that choices with marriage, family, housework, etc, are not made in a vacuum and are instead heavily controlled by sexism and socialisation? I would agree that is a good starting point. If you can clarify your intentions further, I would love to hear it.

    On the other debate going on about men doing more physically demanding and dangerous jobs: Do you really think that makes inequality ok? Many physically demanding and dangerous jobs do pay more and women are turned away from them and discouraged from them because of sexism. While at the same time poor men are pushed into physically demanding and dangerous jobs because they need the extra money to fulfill their manly duties of providership. Men are hurt by sexism too, but if they put in their efforts to work with feminists then we can eliminate the gender roles that hurt everyone. But just pointing out where men have it rough too on a topic of how things are unfair for women, as if that makes everything ok and fair, doesn’t help anyone.

  71. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband March 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm |

    I wonder how those statistics would be impacted by maternal death rates. If we value equally all productive labor – assuming that you agree that gestation and child birth are both productive and labor – I suspect the maternal death rate may have a material impact on that particular study.

    In addition it might be useful to note that women are often prohibited from engaging in more dangerous occupations not because society loves women but rather because society seeks to *control* how women – viewed as incubators, rather than autonomous beings – use their bodies.

    Consequently, the higher male death rate is less a product of misandry and more a product of the complex consequences of a kyriarchy. I would venture that those in the most dangerous professions are likely disadvantaged on another vector (race, class, etc.). Meaning that the kyriarchy is merely parsing out the death and pain differently among the powerless rather than doling out the death and pain evenly among the genders.

  72. ballgame
    ballgame March 19, 2011 at 4:12 am |

    I’m totally up for A) better safety protocols on the job, and B) creating access so women can hold dangerous but masculine jobs as often as men and vice versa. Especially A with bells and whistles and unions like whoa.

    Given what I remember of your political positions, I assume you are pro-those-things, too?

    Mandolin, I completely agree with “A” — with bells and whistles and unions like whoa! :-) And I certainly agree that women should have equal opportunity to take up traditionally-masculine jobs. But the phrase “as often” implies that you believe there will be a 50/50 split between men and women in all occupations, and I think that notion is based on some dubious assumptions.

    Anyway, there was an International Women’s Day discussion on The Current a week and a half ago that folks here may find worthwhile to listen to. As usual, the wage gap was framed in a way which I take issue with, but at least one of the feminist panelists acknowledged the greater role that women’s choices play in that gap than some of the participants in this thread apparently do.

    To say [the CONSAD study is] the most rigorous and uncontradicted makes it sound like the “researchers” discovered something, rather than just repackaged what was already out there to suit their ideology.

    That study did, in fact, break new ground in terms of the depth and rigor of its statistical analysis, rain.

    Your emphasis on uncontradicted is cute; the facts aren’t in contention, but describing a woman leaving or reducing her paid work to raise children as a choice and saying the available choices don’t occur in a sexist framework isn’t factual.

    Both men and women are placed in difficult positions trying to juggle employment with the desire to spend more time with their families. Men don’t spend as much time as they’d like with their families because of their work obligations; it’s not at all self-evident that women have less choice in these decisions than men do. At any rate, I strongly support workplace regulations that would give workers greater flexibility and more job security in order to take care of family dependents.

    However, I would recommend you read the comments at the Echidne link, because it challenges the whole basis implicit in that dangerous jobs line of argument as it relates to a gender pay gap, that dangerous jobs pay more.

    Those arguments are flawed, IMHO, but the explanation of why would be too complicated (and somewhat OT) for me to take up here. (I did partially take up the issue in this post but I don’t think my argument was as clear as it should have been, and I should probably try again at some point.)

    Ballgame: I’m confused. Above you are saying that men’s dangerous jobs are not the same than women’s and therefore we can’t compare them (and therefore pay inequality is not inequality?) But then you get to prostitution and you insist on comparing female to male prostitutes.

    Q Grrl: In order to make a compelling case that Group A is unfairly paid relative to Group B, you have to hold the other variables constant. If Group A is “women” and Group B is “men,” then it’s true that Group A gets paid less money. It’s also true that Group A gets killed and injured less. And the reason for both of these things is, Group A and Group B are doing different jobs. When similarly-qualified members of both groups are doing the same job, they get paid as close to “the same” as the statistics allow us to determine.

    Now it is still possible that Group A is still being paid unfairly relative to Group B, but it becomes a much harder case to make. You can’t simply assume that “less = unfair.” Hell, Group B might be paid unfairly relative to Group A even though Group B gets more! To make a case one way or the other requires you to establish criteria for what makes for a fair wage for one job vs. another. That’s a very daunting task which we typically allow ‘the market’ to care of.

    I introduced the question of male prostitutes’ (and drug runners’) wages because the Echidne thread appeared to be ignoring those occupations when the commenters began talking as if the female prostitution issue would change the CONSAD conclusions somehow. I thought their arguments in favor of ‘let’s include female prostitutes but exclude male drug runners’ were pretty transparently self-serving, frankly.

  73. La Lubu
    La Lubu March 19, 2011 at 8:33 am |

    As usual, the wage gap was framed in a way which I take issue with, but at least one of the feminist panelists acknowledged the greater role that women’s choices play in that gap than some of the participants in this thread apparently do.

    For the love of Maude. “Women’s choices”? Ok, here’s this woman’s choice. I entered an electrical apprenticeship when I was twenty. I became a journeyman wireman—notably, a physically demanding and dangerous job. It’s pretty well compensated, as far as working class jobs go (translation: can’t complain about the pay; I can complain about the instability of employment, especially in this economy, and I have to be mindful of the risks and possible? probable? health risks and/or shortening of my life from repeated use injury (haven’t had that yet; knock on wood) or exposure to dangerous substances on the job (silica, asbestos, among others).

    But you know what? My job, and skilled labor construction in general, is not the problem when it comes to the wage gap. I get paid the exact same amount as the men on the job. Period. It’s in the contract.

    Take a look at this graph, and you can see what I mean. See the little black dot on the right? That’s me, in the 100% column. That’s what labor unions can do for you.

    Now take a look at what’s over on the left hand side. Notice something? See how the non-dangerous, highly educated, high status jobs have some of the largest wage gaps? Finance and academia really look like shit on this graph.

    I don’t want to derail the thread too much; there are many reasons why women aren’t entering the trades in the same numbers men are, and it has a lot less to do with mere sexism than you’d think (hint: the trades also have a difficult time finding and keeping men, too. we—skilled labor—have a huge problem with the baby-boomer demographic winter; apprentices have not come into the trades at a rate to keep up with the numbers of boomers retiring).

    But let’s get real. The wage gap doesn’t exist because women are making the “wrong” choices or taking the “easy way out”. My overwhelmingly masculine job pays what it does (and has absolute parity with men’s wages) because I’m unionized.

  74. rain
    rain March 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm |

    That study did, in fact, break new ground in terms of the depth and rigor of its statistical analysis, rain.

    “In fact”? Nope, you have presented no evidence to demonstrate that “fact”. Once again, the “study” basically just said, “We’re going to call workplace interruptions a “choice” and say it has nothing to do with sexism.” Relabeling is not breaking new ground; it’s quite an old, and not very sophisticated, trick, actually.

    Your latest analysis of the dangerous jobs issue suffers from the same problem as your initial reaction to it. You simply declare yourself right and logical and the other person wrong and illogical.

    Is your verbosity just a style thing, or are you deliberately burying a weak argument? Because you’ve not said anything new (which is why my response is also nothing new).

  75. Doctress Julia
    Doctress Julia March 20, 2011 at 5:05 pm |

    saurus: DP, this is in response to all your comments in the thread. I thought I’d share an anecdote – I identify as female, my partner identifies as male, and we’ve been living together for a few years. We have a great, supportive relationship, but housework & cooking labor is something we’ve never agreed on.

    First, unlike your examples, I’m not picky. I don’t need my spices to be arranged by color and I don’t iron my towels. In fact, I am decidedly on the “messy” side of the neat-messy spectrum. I have pretty low standard for cleanliness: we vaccuum once a week (if things get busy, it ends up being once every couple weeks, and neither of us cares that much). We mop once a month, if we’re lucky. We do dishes every day, but rarely clean out the whole sink of them. And so on. Basically we are keeping our apartment from becoming a pigsty, but that’s it. We’re both pretty content in this regard.

    Actually, scratch that – I’m content. He’s not. He’ll complain that things aren’t clean enough, but he’ll never actually lift a finger to clean more. He feels entitled to a cleaner home, but he has no intention of being the one to make that happen. I am always the one who cleans the rooms, wipes stuff down, puts things away, clears out the sink of dishes – he just vaccuums twice a month and calls it a day.

    I don’t think he directly thinks, “This is women’s work and I’m not doing it.” I think he thinks, “I don’t want to do that cleaning, but I want it to get done.” and then doesn’t follow his thought to the logical, tacit conclusion: that the duty rests on me.

    When I point this out, or when I ask him to help out more with the domestic labor, what happens? Well, he resists – because he believes that not only is he doing enough, he’s doing *more* than me!

    In his head, his chores:

    + Laundry – 2 hours every 2 weeks
    + Vaccuuming – 20min every 1-2 weeks
    + Taking out garbage – 5min every 2 days
    + Taking out recycling – 10min every 2 weeks
    + Cat litter – 5min every day
    + Dishes – 15min every day
    = 240 minutes of labor per week

    Add up to more than mine:

    + Cooking – 1-2 hours, 7 days a week
    + Cleaning everything – 2 hours every 1 week
    + Organizing the recycling – 15min every 1 week
    + Fixing up crap around the house – 1 hour every 2 weeks
    = 795 minutes of labor per week

    You can imagine why – he’s doing a broader range of chores, so he ticks them off in his head and feels like he’s doing a lot. But I’m doing the most time-consuming and difficult labor.

    So not only does he feel that I don’t do as much as him, he also feels like the labor he does makes unreasonable demands on his time. He wants to buy a dishwasher for our little rental apartment because he hates the 15min of dish-washing (remember: we only wash what we need) and he wants to buy a washer and dryer and cram them into our kitchen somehow because he hates going down to the basement to use the building’s laundromat.

    Cooking is obviously the biggest disparity. I hate cooking, and resent being the only person who cooks – it swallows up a lot of my evening, and it requires some planning and effort. He doesn’t have experience cooking, but abjectly refuses to do so unless I choose from two meals: packaged Kraft macaroni and cheese, or grilled cheese. As someone who strongly dislikes the taste of fake cheese and is on a special diet from my doctor, neither are good options for me.

    I’ve encouraged him to learn how to cook; had him help me make things as I’ve guided him, and even sent him simple recipes with the instructions written out in a step-by-step, “beginner-friendly” way. Did I ask him to do 50% of the cooking? No, I told him that even if he could just make meals for 2 days a month when my menstrual pain is worst, I’d be delighted beyond compare.

    But he never does. Once, when I was badgering him about it, he burst out with saying how hard he works all day and how important his free evenings are – never considering how hard I work all day (we both work full-time) or how much I want a free evening too.

    In the end, I think the difference between he and I isn’t how messy or clean we are, because he likes a cleaner house than I do. It’s that he has a sense of indignance towards domestic labor – “this chore is annoying and time-consuming, it’s an outrage that I should have to do it! Why should I be the sucker who does it?” whereas I have a sense of resignation – “this chore is annoying and time-consuming, but I have to do it, so whatever”. I think we were socialized and raised with this difference by virtue of our gender, and it’s hard to override his emotional impulse of “Noooooooo!” when I say our stock of clean underwear is dangerously low.

    Oh. No, just NO. DTMFA.

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