Author: has written 5276 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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82 Responses

  1. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 8, 2013 at 4:46 am |

    Great piece. Incidentally, one factual error, the US is one of significantly more than three countries that don’t offer paid government maternity leave (Liberia, Suriname and a couple others are on the list too). I’m guessing you did your research on Wikipedia, since that’s where the list you used appears?

  2. DouglasG
    DouglasG June 8, 2013 at 10:18 am |

    [Among couples where the woman does earn more than the man, one would assume he'd do more around the house. But actually, women who are breadwinners in two-parent families seem to overcompensate for their non-traditional earner status: they not only do more housework than their husbands, but also more even than wives who earn less than their husbands.]

    If one takes the viewpoint that the higher earner contributes more to one major sphere (Income) and therefore in fairness the other partner presumably contributes more to another (Domicile), sure. Not to disagree with the main point, but pay isn’t a neutral indicator of effort. Perhaps it isn’t doable, but it would be interesting to see as a refinement how which partner works (for pay) harder (or is, fairly or otherwise, perceived to do so) figures into the various mixes.

    Apples to oranges, I know, but I think I’ve only had one relationship without a major income disparity, and most of the time the lower earner worked significantly harder on the whole.

    1. rain
      rain June 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm |

      Not to disagree with the main point, but pay isn’t a neutral indicator of effort.

      True, but as this article notes, that was the rationale men used to weasel out of housework:

      Some might argue that the paid hours each spouse works, not salary, should dictate the distribution of housework. Some dual-earner families, mine included, divvy it up this way. But we’re the anomaly. For years, men have used their higher incomes as the rationale for not doing more at home.

      To have that conversation now, once we arrive at the point where it’s the woman who can say, “I make more, so you should do more housework”, is some major goalpost shifting.

      1. DouglasG
        DouglasG June 8, 2013 at 9:43 pm |

        In a particular opposite-sex relationship, if he once weaseled out of housework along that line and now she’s in the position he once occupied, great – she should have the same weasel. In general, though, while total cash earnings may be a reasonable way to rank professional golfers who compete against each other, I think I’ll count myself lucky never to have experienced such oppositional framing.

        Personally, I almost always did more housework whether I was the bigger earner or the harder worker, probably due to having been the oldest child of a large family. I was just used to it.

        1. rain
          rain June 9, 2013 at 10:53 am |

          In a particular opposite-sex relationship, if he once weaseled out of housework along that line and now she’s in the position he once occupied, great – she should have the same weasel. In general, though,

          Thanks for your permission, but we actually are talking about “in general” and not millions of individual arrangements. We’re looking at patterns of behavior and trends. Systemic problems require systemic solutions and all that.

          It will not really matter, not substantively, if we switch to using a more accurate measure of people’s outside-the-home work. Because “I make more, so you should do more housework” is a rationalization, not part of a reasoned assessment of a person’s contribution to the family. Because the allocation of housework for an opposite-sex couple has less to do with facts and fairness than what our gendered expectations are. (See this analysis from Hochschild’s The Second Shift for a maddening example.) So, absent the “I make more” excuse, do you think that we (society) will come up with other rationalizations for why women should do more housework than their male partner regardless of how much other work they do or what their contribution to the family is? Or do you think that, once men see their and their female partner’s contributions laid out in a reasonable, logical manner, that men will step up and do their share?

          All of which is to say that I think that your bringing up the fact that pay /= effort is a bit of a derail, whether or not you intended it as such.

        2. DouglasG
          DouglasG June 10, 2013 at 7:33 pm |

          As little as it is my place to advise the opposite-sexer women of the world, my own prescription for changing this would be to have them raise their sons cooking and cleaning and their daughters hitting golf balls as far as Laura Davies. We need a rising generation of men with sufficient grounding in housework to be able to take on a fair share. (I’ll avoid contemplating the determination and composition of fairness.) I shall do my best for the cause by not advising opposite-sexer men at all, as they tend not to take well to same-sexer advice.

          I can accept it being considered derailing for a male same-sexer to comment on the thread at all. I saw a rationalization I could have used myself (albeit in a different context) when I was the higher earner but never used because I never saw partnerships that way, and anyway it seemed a not entirely fair rationalization. I’ve speculated on what might be a reason that would contribute to a fair division of labour, if not in response to you then in response to someone else. Fair enough to deem it not really relevant.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 10, 2013 at 7:36 pm |

          Or do you think that, once men see their and their female partner’s contributions laid out in a reasonable, logical manner, that men will step up and do their share?

          Infinite lolz!

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune June 8, 2013 at 9:48 pm |

      how which partner works (for pay) harder (or is, fairly or otherwise, perceived to do so) figures into the various mixes.

      …define harder, though? Because, I mean, as it stands, it seems like a nice excuse for a guy working in a more physical field for 35 hours to weasel out of housework after his wife does 40 hours at a desk and child care besides.

      I agree, though, that the person engaged in more physical labour should ideally get to slack off on housework, which is often more physically taxing, and maybe pick up more childcare, which, while emotionally exhausting, isn’t (at least with older kids) as physically demanding.

      And I heartily second your relief at not having to do this kind of “will my spouse be a lazy fucknut?” math, particularly as I’m disabled in ways that would make my life hell if I was expected to always take on housework.

      1. DouglasG
        DouglasG June 9, 2013 at 9:45 am |

        I know; and who can say it will even be determinable on a regular basis? Probably can’t be done.

        If I had to pick a marker, perhaps I’d choose Happier over Hours or Richer. If one were going to delve deeply, it might seem plausible that one would find that the (vast?) majority of those underpaid because they’re Doing What They Love are husbands rather than wives. Maybe it’s a big thing to presume about opposite-sex couples (for whom it sometimes seems that almost every personal detail is political), but, assuming most household chores to be divided loosely along the lines of which partner dislikes doing X less as opposed to Y (after differences in time and physical reserves or capability are given adjustments), I’d cut the unhappier worker a break in the division of the Z that both loathe doing.

        I can come up with conflicting images for hypothetical cases. The Driven Girl who grew up and married a Coasting Boy because pickings were slim may well have more than Main Breadwinner in her arsenal. My original thought, I’ll admit, was of an indeterminate pair relatively equally matched with basically equivalent skill sets, one just being more highly valued than the other at the moment.

        To some extent, the thought of ranking spouses by cash just took me back to the Prudie letter of ten days ago from the Pretty Pretty Princess whose boyfriend or fiance only earns a middle class income while all her friends are telling her she can date Rich Richie Rich (and at least to her credit wondered if she were just too shallow for regretting that she never had dated anyone whose superiour income matched her superiour beauty – she reminded me of Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion). I have yet to recover from Prudie’s assertion that a middle class income means living paycheck to paycheck.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm |

          assuming most household chores to be divided loosely along the lines of which partner dislikes doing X less as opposed to Y (after differences in time and physical reserves or capability are given adjustments), I’d cut the unhappier worker a break in the division of the Z that both loathe doing.

          Hmm. Well, that seems decent on the surface, but I can’t see it with straight couples as a whole. I just can’t. Mostly because all the patriarchal bullshit about how women just should and men can’t really and blah de fucking blah would arise. I’ve seen it work, I have – my very straight parents have a really equitable arrangement, including childcare when I was little – but my dad’s also pretty much the biggest male feminist I know (though, hilariously, I doubt he’d identify that way), which probably accounts for it. So, I’d hesitate to apply your math to any real situation.

        2. DouglasG
          DouglasG June 10, 2013 at 7:40 pm |

          I tend to agree with you that it would never work in the real world. I have just enough of that irritating tendency to try to plot out impossible things that would never really work just to see if somehow they could be made to do so. On the whole it’s a great time waster, certainly with people.

    3. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl June 9, 2013 at 11:05 am |

      Perhaps it isn’t doable, but it would be interesting to see as a refinement how which partner works (for pay) harder (or is, fairly or otherwise, perceived to do so) figures into the various mixes.

      Umm, hold the phone their Doug.

      The whole hard work v not-hard work binary is a just way to difficult to quantify, in most circumstances, and in any reasonable way that measures the true hardness of the work in question.

      Also, and probably where you really wander into malarkey territory? The paid work portion of your scenario is especially ripe for bullshit, gender stereotyping fodder. Because much of all that housework stuff is some pretty hard work already. And the kid related care IS hard work, regardless of whether or not it is paid work. It sure as hell doesn’t turn into no big deal, super easy to the point of effortless non-work simply because it isn’t paid work.

      1. Safiya Outlines
        Safiya Outlines June 9, 2013 at 7:57 pm |

        An alternate way of looking at this, is that both partners should haveequal amounts of leisure time. It is saddening how many couples there are, where the man gets to keeps his regular hobbies in order to “unwind”, while the woman gets no such time or allowances.

        1. DouglasG
          DouglasG June 10, 2013 at 7:53 pm |

          Entirely. Thank you for phrasing it better than I did.

          And I thank Ms Lola for expanding my original point of pay not being a satisfactory basis for being able to pull rank. Sorry if my convolutions made me appear to be arguing from the other side.

  3. TomSims
    TomSims June 8, 2013 at 10:58 am |

    “With women now making up close to half the workforce, ”

    Jill, women make up more than half of the workforce in the USA

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/06/business/economy/06women.html?_r=0

    1. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date June 9, 2013 at 6:56 am |

      No, women don’t. Your article from 2010 uses non-farm payroll employment only. This excludes proprietors, the self-employed, farm workers, and domestic workers.

      If you look at the whole workforce, men outnumber women. In 2012, for example, there were 75.6 million employed men in the civilian labor force, and 66.9 million employed women.

      And even looking just at non-farm payroll employment, women accounted for 49.9% in 2009 — basically half, but definitely not more than half. It’s down to 49.4% in 2012.

      You can get the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Economic Statistics survey (payroll employment) and Current Population Survey (labor force).

  4. RenKiss
    RenKiss June 8, 2013 at 11:29 am |

    Great piece, Jill.

    I’m kind of surprised the Pew Study included single mothers, usually with things like this, they’re left out. Specifically never married single mothers. Though, I’m concerned with class and race issues. The fact that minority women are more likely to fall into the single motherhood category shows there are some unresolved issues that have yet to be addressed. Since beliefs about traditional roles remain strong, the only solution that’s offered is to get married. *smh*

    I’m also glad this isn’t being touted as a feminist victory, yes there are areas of progress, but it also shows we have a long way to go.

  5. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 8, 2013 at 1:21 pm |

    Once again: “taking care of the kids” is not a “basic life task” like cleaning the toilets and cooking dinner.

    1. amblingalong
      amblingalong June 9, 2013 at 1:39 am |

      How is cooking dinner not part of taking care of the kids?

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune June 9, 2013 at 2:36 am |

      Eh, I interpreted that as “physical things that need doing”, like kids’ laundry, picking up/dropping off, etc. It seemed pretty clear from context that Jill was referring to the “chores” part of parenting, though if that isn’t it, obviously she can correct me, etc.

      And, I mean…yes, the “chores” part of parenting isn’t all of it, but I can’t possibly be the only person here who finds the work to be a bug, not a feature. It’s 2013, I want my jetpack magical elf army.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong June 9, 2013 at 4:12 am |

        ^^

      2. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl June 9, 2013 at 8:07 am |

        Hattie can correct me if I am mistaken, but I think her point is that actually caring for children is more than the stuff of basic life skills. And actually caring for children is not just clean up, food prep, bathing, etc. it’s the following them around to keep them out of danger, and interacting with them, and teaching them stuff and otherwise entertaining them and so on that is the real, nitty gritty, involved in actual child care.

        Which is why people usually end up paying through the nose for decent child care, and why it can be so difficult to find good quality child care for so many people.

        This bugs me too, this weird assumption that child care is the basic stuff that one does anyway without kids but just with an increased workload that corresponds to however many additional children one has in the household. We’ve gone around and around on this merry-go-round a millionty times already here at Feministe, and it still pops up as the conventional wisdom that goes hand in hand with the notion that child care is no big deal, and not real work, and thus SAHP don’t really work either.

        Which is why it needs to be challenged, and pushed back against. Because it’s bullshit, and it belittles the real, hard work of child care, regardless of whether the child carer is getting paid to do that caring work or not.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 9, 2013 at 8:48 am |

          Oh, I almost forgot!

          See also the notion that child caring requires minimal smarts or intelligence, can not be nor ever will be intellectually stimulating or engaging, and that any dummy can do it.

          So why should a child care worker be paid anything more than a basic, living wage? Or get benefits or (paid or otherwise) vacation time? Or even really be entitled to any serious respect? And teachers? Pah! glorified daycare workers, why should anyone listen to their whining?

        2. Donna L
          Donna L June 9, 2013 at 8:51 am |

          Well said. Thank you. As you and Hattie point out, though, it’s ridiculous that it has to be said, over and over and over again.

        3. Barnacle Strumpet
          Barnacle Strumpet June 9, 2013 at 12:11 pm |

          See also the notion that child caring requires minimal smarts or intelligence, can not be nor ever will be intellectually stimulating or engaging, and that any dummy can do it.

          You really want to go there? You want to imply you have to have a high level of intelligence or be neurotypical to be a good parent? You want to use the word “dummy” and imply that “dummies” can’t parent?

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 9, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

          actually caring for children is more than the stuff of basic life skills. And actually caring for children is not just clean up, food prep, bathing, etc

          Hmm. Well, I read it as Jill speaking exclusively of chores, as I said, but I definitely see your point too.

          And I mean…obviously I’m not a bioparent of a small child and have never been, so I guess, from the POV of a stepparent of a tween, the division between Chores (pick up kid, feed kid, clean up kid’s stuff, keep track of kid while it plays) and Not Chores (hang out with kid, talk with kid, watch stuff with kid) is pretty clear. So, perspective fail on my part, I guess.

          this weird assumption that child care is the basic stuff that one does anyway without kids but just with an increased workload

          Again, I was writing from my POV as a older-kid parent, which basically means I’m not doing anything “extra” for mine in terms of new areas of physical labour, just adding on to whatever chores I pretty much already do. Sorry for not specifying.

        5. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm |

          Oh, FFS, Barnacle.

          Actual child care is not something that takes zero effort or know how, which is the underlying assumption of those who dismiss and denigrate the efforts of child care workers and SAHPs. This is about more than just parenting, by the way. It’s the intersecting of social politics and patriarchy, which love to work from the assumption that women and their efforts and parenting don’t mean shit in the greater picture of men and their manly enterprises.

          It’s rather offensive how you sought to twist my words around wrt to dummies and their ability or capacity to parent. Especially in the world in which most of us live already, which automatically assumes that women are de facto dummies and inherently inferior to men.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm |

          it still pops up as the conventional wisdom that goes hand in hand with the notion that child care is no big deal, and not real work, and thus SAHP don’t really work either

          Also, I didn’t say any of these things, or even bring up SAHP, childcare workers or teachers. (All of which, by the way, I have been or will be in the future, so…why would I crap on any of them?)

        7. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 9, 2013 at 12:38 pm |

          Mac, I was responding to Jill’s comments in particular, not yours. I know you get this stuff, and you and I are generally on the same wtf page when posts here have veered off into mommy wars and mommies are stupid territory.

        8. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 9, 2013 at 12:45 pm |

          Ah, okay, got it, Lola. I did headtilt, because it seemed pretty out of nowhere. But yeah, we’re on the same page where that is concerned.

        9. Barnacle Strumpet
          Barnacle Strumpet June 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

          Oh, ~ffs~, Lolagirl. It’s rather offensive how you’ll throw neurodiverse people or people with certain disabilitiesor under a bus so you can make your point about the difficulties of being a parent.

          You want to criticize politics and the patriarchy? Go right ahead. But you’re defeating the point when you do so in a way that puts down marginalized groups and reinforces stereotypes of them, all so you can break stereotypes people hold about your own group.

        10. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm |

          Barnacle. that sound was the point sailing right over your head.

          This isn’t about neurodiversity or intellectual capacity. I’m not throwing anyone under the bus here, and if you actually read what I wrote instead of apparently trying super duper hard to find something with which to take offense you would see that. Are you for real that you think the term dummy is supposed to be ableism of some sort? Because frankly that’s beyond ridiculous. Especially in light of the rest of my follow up comment, which pointed out the way in which our society operates from the underlying assumption that women are stupid, and clueless, and that their work is less valid, important or deemed worthy of respect.

        11. Donna L
          Donna L June 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm |

          Lolagirl, as you know, I agree substantively with every single thing you’ve said. However, with respect to your questioning whether “the term dummy is supposed to be ableism,” it actually has been used, historically, to refer pejoratively to deaf people (whether or not they were “dumb” in the sense of being able to speak), and is, in fact, derived from the conflation of inability to hear or speak with stupidity.

          For example: back in the early 20th century, when there were actually quite a few deaf players in major league baseball, almost every one of them was called by the nickname “Dummy.” The most famous was “Dummy Hoy,” the most accomplished deaf major leaguer; some think that he — or an earlier deaf player or umpire — was involved in developing the hand signals for “safe” or “out” still used today.

          So, yes, the word “dummy” to mean stupidity is, in fact, an ableist slur in origin.

        12. Donna L
          Donna L June 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm |

          comment in moderation pointing out that the word in question is, in fact, an ableist slur in origin, based on the conflation of inability to speak (and/or hear) with stupidity.

        13. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 9, 2013 at 2:04 pm |

          And you know what, if it comes off as ableism that certainly is not my intention. As I have stated repeatedly, this world operates unde the generalized assumption that the very state of being a woman makes one dumb, of lesser intellectual capacity than men, and of lesser general or precise knowledge on any given subject ever in comparison to men.

          Add in the way our world persistently does not value any efforts (physical or intellectual) undertaken by women, that child care and caregiving in general are defaulted to women and assumed to be the primary or sole job of women? That directly translates to the cultural presumption that child caring is the bailiwick of women because it doesn’t require any effort, skill, intelligence or the least bit of finger lifting to accomplish.

        14. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 10, 2013 at 12:17 am |

          See also the notion that child caring requires minimal smarts or intelligence, can not be nor ever will be intellectually stimulating or engaging, and that any dummy can do it.

          Lola, just because anyone can do something doesn’t mean that it can’t be done much better by someone who is putting in a greater effort. You don’t seem to differentiate between good and bad parenting.

          You say that childcare requires minimal smarts and intelligence. What is the minimum intelligence level at which you would say someone is not allowed to care for a child?

        15. tinffoil hattie
          tinffoil hattie June 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm |

          Fat Steve, you quoted this from Lolagirl, and it was irony
          on her part:

          “See also the notion that child caring requires minimal smarts or intelligence, can not be nor ever will be intellectually stimulating or engaging, and that any dummy can do it.”

          I am not sure what you mean by extraoolating from Jill? I’m not following.

      3. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl June 9, 2013 at 1:11 pm |

        And maybe I do need to be more explicit in my criticism here. Jill has in the past displayed a lack of understanding when it comes to the myriad ways in which child care IS work. Her throwing out the daily chore list in the same breath as discussing caring for children implies not so subtly that she assumes that there is not much more to child care than putting meals in front of them and cleaning up after them.

        Which why I and Hattie and Mac and others have fought back against that in past posts. Because that mindset leads down the road to undervaluing women, and their efforts, and any efforts at all done by anyone who engages in caregiving. There have been past discussions here where even getting an acknowledgement of the hard work done by paid caregivers was only done begrudgingly.

        And some of that does come because of pushback from WOHPs in light of rhetoric that they aren’t raising their kids and giving them the parenting stuff those kids need. And I agree that’s all crap. But that doesn’t necessitate throwing SAHPs to the wolves and telling them they don’t work, that what they do isn’t valuable or important, or that it is unfeminist to do that work.

        Nor is it feminist to only attach a woman’s worth to her paid work enterprises (or a man to his paid enterprises either, for that matter.) It isn’t feminist to ignore or downplay the work done of childcare, because that is precisely how the system we have seeks to not value it enough to pay sufficiently for it. And it is precisely why we see patriarchy keep women under its collective thumb, because telling women that their efforts aren’t as valuable as men then translates to women that they themselves are simply not as valuable as men.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 9, 2013 at 2:39 pm |

          throwing SAHPs to the wolves

          SPECIESIST! *gasp*

        2. Safiya Outlines
          Safiya Outlines June 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm |

          Thank you Lola, thank you Hattie. This such a well worn path, but thank you for going down it again.

          I dislike the Motherhood as Ultimate Feminine Fulfillment trope as much as anyone else round these parts but I do not believe that substituting it with a trope of Parenthood is Just a Litany of Tedious Tasks is in any way beneficial or feminist.

          A feminism which is only about aspiring to what the alpha dudes have, just doesn’t cut it for me.

        3. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 9, 2013 at 9:03 pm |

          So sorry, no offense intended to any of the wolves reading along in cyberspace.

        4. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie June 10, 2013 at 10:03 am |

          Thanks, lolagirl, for stepping in. I’m too freaking tired of the battle.

          And Jill, you have actually said that child care isn’t “work.” We’re not making stuff up here.

          Also, I don’t think I’ve ever read one single person in this space declare that motherhood is the be-all and end-all of a woman’s life. Yet every time a mother re-explains here that child-rearing is a necessary and valuable part of keeping society going, and should be seen by FEMINISTS as such, someone comes along to insist that she’s saying all women should “stay home” (ha-ha) and raise tons of babies and fulfill her genetic purpose.

          And Fat Steve, I think you misread Lolagirl. Where did she say that anyone with minimal intelligence can be an effective parent? And when did she say she is the earth’s expert at determining a quantitative value for “good” parenting? Nice bed of straw, though.

        5. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie June 10, 2013 at 10:09 am |

          P.S. Read Stephanie Coontz’s piece in the 8 June 2013 NY Times to see why this is STILL an issue, and why you can’t separate raising children from the discussion of men/women/work/wages.

        6. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm |

          And Fat Steve, I think you misread Lolagirl. Where did she say that anyone with minimal intelligence can be an effective parent? And when did she say she is the earth’s expert at determining a quantitative value for “good” parenting? Nice bed of straw, though.

          Sorry, I forgot that it’s only acceptable to extrapolate subtext in Jill’s comments.

        7. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 10, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

          If my comment ever makes it out of mod, Steve, you’ll get to see my response to your points. See also, my comment below on childcare =/= parenting.

        8. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 10, 2013 at 4:22 pm |

          And Jill, you have actually said that child care isn’t “work.” We’re not making stuff up here.

          This argument is silly. Child care is work. FACT. Work refers to the expending of energy, and child care, like breathing, is work. If Jill said it wasn’t work, she was wrong. However I imagine her actual comment was slightly more nuanced.

    3. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl June 10, 2013 at 11:02 am |

      OK, I think we need to back it up here a bit.

      Parenting and child care are not always the same thing. Not the least of which because parenting is done by parents, while child care is often done by a third party who is usually paid to do that work. Whenever the Mommy Wars over SAH v WOH heat up, somebody virtually always comes in and says something dumb about how they SAH so that they can raise and parent their kid. And then lots of people get all fired up pointing out how offensive that is to say and that it is often a false equivalency for a whole bunch of reasons. Of course WOHP still raise and parent their own kids, regardless of whether or not a 3rd party is doing the actual caring for that child while the parent(s) work. And yet, those parents are not engaging in child care while they are out working.

      I’m pretty stunned to see the very people who get fired up over that false equivalency now reading child care as parenting in this discussion. I specifically did not use the word parenting for that very reason, because repeat after me, child care and parenting are often not the same thing.

      Which is why I also specifically raised the issue of how even paid child care workers and even teachers are often given so little respect in this culture. It’s all there, I wrote it out in black and white, folks, so stop trying to misinterpret what I wrote, impute motives to me I do not have, and otherwise put words into my mouth. I would then turn it around and ask if we are going to go down the path of saying who needs intelligence or education to engage in paid child care or teaching? Because seriously, that is the height of outrageousness.

      Which then just circles back to the original point that child care is given pretty much zero respect or recognition as actual work here in the good old U.S. And this statement only serves to illustrate how very low the bar has apparently been set:

      Taking care of children is a “basic life task” insofar as if you have children, you have to take care of them so that they don’t die.

      Until a kid does end up dead, then the caregiver is the worst, most horriblest person ever in the world, and how could such a thing be allowed to happen.

      The cognitive dissonance, it’s making my head hurt.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve June 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm |

        Whenever the Mommy Wars over SAH v WOH heat up, somebody virtually always comes in and says something dumb about how they SAH so that they can raise and parent their kid.

        If you are so adamant about it being ‘work’ why don’t you refer to ‘WAH’ and ‘WOH’ parents? Sounds like your very own terminology implies less ‘work’ involved in one. You can look at just about any way of phrasing things and decide it implies a myriad of meanings,

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 10, 2013 at 4:55 pm |

          Because, Steve, if I use the term WAH everyone else reading along is going to assume that I am using the standard terminology to refer to paid employment done within the home.

          At this point, you appear to be pointing yourself into the corner of non-wage earning parent who remains with a child at home all day to care for them is not doing work like a wage earner is. If so, come on out and own that position. I’ll still feel free to criticize you for holding such a sexist and misogynist opinion, but at least we will be certain that we are on the same page.

          That taking that position only serves to further marginaliz an already heavily marginalized group of women is really beside the point, isn’t it?

        2. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 10, 2013 at 5:01 pm |

          At this point, you appear to be pointing yourself into the corner of non-wage earning parent who remains with a child at home all day to care for them is not doing work like a wage earner is. If so, come on out and own that position. I’ll still feel free to criticize you for holding such a sexist and misogynist opinion, but at least we will be certain that we are on the same page.

          I’m not pointing myself into any corner, just saying that language is not perfect, and you shouldn’t always imagine the most negative definition.

      2. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl June 10, 2013 at 6:01 pm |

        So…still waiting for you yourself to clarify your opinion here, Steve.

        SAHP is work, or not work. Which is it?

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 10, 2013 at 6:04 pm |

          Also, I meant to write paint yourself into a corner earlier, not point.

          Damn autocorrect is not correct.

        2. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm |

          So…still waiting for you yourself to clarify your opinion here, Steve.

          SAHP is work, or not work. Which is it?

          It’s work. So are ‘basic life tasks.’

        3. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 10, 2013 at 6:58 pm |

          With that, I suggest we move this to Spillover. Surely three words from the original article don’t warrant this much exposition.

        4. a lawyer
          a lawyer June 10, 2013 at 8:21 pm |

          Lolagirl June 10, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink | Reply
          SAHP is work, or not work. Which is it?

          SAHP is not work, at least not in the context which most people use to define “work.”

          Of course, SAHP is much harder than work, especially when the kids are young. Frankly, taking care of young kids is pretty unpleasant at times, since they are often demanding, needy, selfish, house-wrecking, tear-inducing, terrors. (Which is normal and expected, since they’re young kids. As my wife and I used to say, “good thing they’re so cute.”)

          SAHP is easier than work, when the kids are older; spending days with a 9 and 11 year old is lightyears away from spending those same days with the same children in their 6 month and 5.5 year-old equivalents.

        5. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 11, 2013 at 11:12 am |

          Steve, your last two comments illustrate just how little you actually get it here. The essay above IS about work, thus, discussion about work done by child care workers and SAHPs is not outside its scope.

          Furthermore, you are seriously veering into mansplaining territory with your child caring work is a basic life task comment. If I or anyone else outside of your profession came into your workplace today and presumed to tell you they knew better than you how to do it, I’m thinking your response would be wtf? Yet when it comes to SAHPs and child care this is the one area of work that others presume to talk it down. Seriously, what first hand or second hand knowledge do you have wrt to what is involved in providing child care to children? Having once been a child does not count, I mean that’s like saying I’ve been at insert professional’s office enough times that I bet I could totally do his job myself. No big deal!

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 11, 2013 at 11:38 am |

          Yet when it comes to SAHPs and child care this is the one area of work that others presume to talk it down.

          Oooh. I’ve got music playing right now. Listened to music since literally before I was born! Can I laysplain to DJs and RJs now?

        7. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 11, 2013 at 11:56 am |

          Steve, your last two comments illustrate just how little you actually get it here. The essay above IS about work, thus, discussion about work done by child care workers and SAHPs is not outside its scope.

          Furthermore, you are seriously veering into mansplaining territory with your child caring work is a basic life task comment.

          a) I didn’t write the essay above (it was ‘a lawyer’- for some reason my usual avatar isn’t showing up so we’re both green blobs)

          b) I never said child caring work is a basic life task. I said both child caring and basic life tasks were work, which means I obviously consider them two different things, especially in the context of my conversation with you in which you’re defining ‘basic life tasks’ as having a very specific meaning. That does not mean that I am going to assume ill will when someone lists child care on a list of ‘basic life tasks.’

        8. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm |

          By the essay above, I was referring to Jill’s own article as quoted by her.

      3. chava
        chava June 11, 2013 at 11:26 am |

        I don’t know, Lola. I do feel like my nanny is helping to raise/parent my child, and that I wouldn’t hesitate to characterize it as such if she were my aunt, grandmother or sister who I paid in some less clear-cut exchange, so why should I deny it just because we’re not related? IMO, children do well when parented by a variety of stable loving, people, not all of whom have to be the bio parents. Not to say that the parents don’t have a special role, but still.

        Just because I pay someone to take care of my child doesn’t mean they don’t also care about them and parent them. There’s a good NYT article from awhile back, about nannying, which talked about how uncomfortable American parents are with the idea that we’re buying maternal love or parenting. But there’s no special mom-sauce for love or parenting…there’s just love, and parenting, and people have to eat.

        1. chava
          chava June 11, 2013 at 11:28 am |

          Just to nuance the above–I think SAHP is a beast of a different color, and honestly not something I think is good for women outside of an extended family or friend support network. I understand how it can be the best available option, but IME people tend not to do well as our child’s one and only support, isolated from other adults.

          But that’s the fault of the nuclear family and capitalist social structures, not SAHP.

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 11, 2013 at 11:39 am |

          I hear you, Chava, I just recall how up in arms others have gotten when the I SAH to raise my kids comments have come up here. And in many respects I agree that the SAH to raise my kids pov is problematic. Arguably, a child care worker is there to care for children according to the directions of the parent(s) and in support of the parenting goals they have as a family. Not be doing their own thing such that they end up being at cross-purposes from the parents.

          Anyway, it sounds like you have a healthy view of the work your child care provider does for you and your family, healthier than a whole lot of people generally have.

        3. chava
          chava June 11, 2013 at 11:47 am |

          Well, yes, but one has those same issues if the childcare provider is a family member or even the non-primary parent (more so, IME).

          It’s an ongoing negotiation, and from my friends who work professionally as nannies, it works out best when your personal philosophy/parenting beliefs line up with the family’s. Otherwise you are in the position of constantly doing something you think isn’t good for the children, of whom who you generally are quite fond.

      4. Lori
        Lori June 11, 2013 at 10:11 pm |

        Lolagirl, I think you are misconstruing “basic” to mean “simple” or “easy,” when in this context it means “fundamental” or “necessary.” It seems plain to me that this is what Jill meant when she said child care is “basic” in so far as you have to do it to keep the child alive.

        It also seems plain to me that your jumping to the conclusion that Jill meant something sinister has much more to do with your issues and your desire to feel self-righteous at Jill’s expense than it does with what Jill actually said.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm |

          Lori, thanks for your condescending response. I am not jumping to conclusions, nor am I being self-righteous. What I am is annoyed, and tired, and more than a tad angry at the way an otherwise Feminist website populated by feminists so often throws that mission out the window when it comes to issues surrounding SAHPs, especially when it is a mother doing the SAHPing.

          I went back and found a comment from that horrible discussion on Elizabeth Wurtzel’s article on why Upper East Side SAHMs are ruining it for feminism, and here is just one example of the things Jill has said about SAHMs to which many of us have objected:

          Because as others have said, it IS work, but when it’s for your own child it’s work that is also part of life. I can pay someone else to clean my house; when I clean it myself it’s still “work,” but it’s not a job or something I expect to be compensated for. It is a part of life.

          This is pretty epic misunderstanding of what a SAHP or paid childcare worker does when caring for children. The bizarre parsing of, well it might be work, but that isn’t a job, is just absurd. If people can’t see why this comment leaves the unmistakable impression that Jill hold little regard for SAHPs or the work/ job/ whatever that they do every day, I just don’t even know how to respond.

          I’m absolutely in agreement with Jill about supporting women in the paid workforce, and fighting against the forces that exist to prevent women from entering that workforce and being successful in it. But that does not necessitate arguing against SAHPs, or arguing that what they do might be work! but it isn’t a job! Because it is hard work, and it is a job whether or not you get paid for it. And that attitude leaves little room for respecting the job and work of paid childcare workers as well. Which definitely puts into losing argument territory.

    4. Roving Thundercloud
      Roving Thundercloud June 10, 2013 at 11:22 am |

      Easily proven by the fact that in many households, lots of basic life tasks (including but not limited to cleaning the toilet and cooking dinner) go by the wayside as soon as childcare is added to the mix.

    5. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl June 10, 2013 at 11:39 am |

      Longer comment is in mod, but what lots of people seem to be missing is that childcare is quite often not the same as parenting.

  6. Monday feminist roundup (10th June 2013) | feimineach.com

    [...] Feministe unpicks some of the statistics behind the new finding that 40% of breadwinners in American families …. For instance: the majority of that 40% are single moms — the breadwinners in their families, [...]

  7. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 10, 2013 at 6:57 pm |

    Fat Steve, it is what Jill said, many many posts ago. Child care is not work. Believe it or don’t.

    What point are you even trying to make?

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl June 11, 2013 at 10:26 am |

      I think folks like Steve (and possibly Jill) are operating from the underlying assumption that being a SAHP is a very bad thing for women and that they should all be out in the professional world holding down a paying job. Thus insuring women are respected for their brains and worth ethic.

      Except that ignores the reality that somebody must provide child care for the children while parent(s) are out of the home working. Thus all my pointing out that the above thought process doesn’t address the lack of respect or recognition of the real work that child care, care giving and even teaching get anYway in our society, regardless of whether or not those things are done for pay.

      It also ignores the reality that a whole lot of people don’t have faboo jobs that challenge them intellectually or provide them with recognition for their abilities.

      Honestly, it’s like lather, rinse, repeat whenever these points come up, except apparently all people hear when I repeatedly bring up these points is blablabla. Because apparently it is totally feminist minded to dismiss the pov of people actually doing the child caring, instead of those who do not.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve June 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm |

        I think folks like Steve (and possibly Jill) are operating from the underlying assumption that being a SAHP is a very bad thing for women and that they should all be out in the professional world holding down a paying job. Thus insuring women are respected for their brains and worth ethic.

        Well, you’re wrong. I don’t feel that way. I don’t feel that way at all. I feel that a SAHP makes just as valuable a contribution if not more than a WOHP. I think that being a SAHP should be widely considered a more acceptable option for men, as well. (I have two male friends currently working as SAHP’s, but you don’t see that in a lot of places.)

        So either I (and, as you say, possibly Jill,) are horrible at communication or you are not particularly good at gauging someone’s attitude from their words.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm |

          So either I (and, as you say, possibly Jill,) are horrible at communication

          Frankly, Steve, yeah, you’re comments have come off as sort of judgey of SAHPing, especially in light of the last time we had this roundabout convo on SAHP and SAHMs in particular here at Feministe. If that isn’t the case, then I apologize for misreading you. When and if I have to time to dig it up, I really should pull some of the comments out, because really, that was the impression that was left.

  8. If your blog were a beer….which kind would it be? « Trial of the Century

    [...] I’m also a bit of a data / politics / news junkie, so I read Alex Howard to hear what’s happening in DC. And he’s a data nerd like me, so when he posts something it sends me off to all the most fun tangents. I think he’s probably in the Stout category, along with Jill & crew over at Feministe who are constantly making me rethink culture, gender and politics. [...]

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