Friday, 18 July 2008

Friday Feminist - Belinda Probert

Cross posted on In a Strange Land

In industrial societies, we have come to define work as something which is usually done outside the home, and in exchange for payment. That people should 'go out' to work is taken for granted, and a woman is described as 'leaving work' when she withdraws from paid employment in order to have a baby. Yet most of the activities that are carried on in the home would meet the criteria that are used to distinguish work from leisure or pleasure. Cooking, washing, tidying up, taking care of small children - these are all activities which feel like work, and they are as essential to a society's well-being as that work which is done on farms, in factories or offices. Despite this, housework is not a 'job' for most who do it. It does not ahve an eight-hour day, overtime rates, paid holidays or sickness entitlements. Women cannot usually retire from it and, in any case, find themselves without superannuation. Housework is work done for no pay at all, and htose who do it are classified as economically inactive - as 'dependants'.

Belinda Probert, "Women's working lives", in Contemporary Australian Feminism, 2nd ed., Longman, Melbourne: 1997


Julie said...

I think the bit that grates me the most is the idea that I'm currently supposed to be "dependent" on my partner. To be honest I actually don't think about the fact that I'm not earning any money, at all. The simple equation that I am keeping our lives running in the practical sense of maintaining the household seems to me to be a sufficient match for my partner being in paid employment.

But then we married our finances long before we married ourselves. If our income went into his account and I had to ask for money I imagine I'd feel quite dependent, and quite boxed in too.

Anonymous said...

The asking for money (and having to 'present a case' for it) bit is the WORST part of the stay at home scenario for me. dependent, boxed in, trapped - all depending on the day and the mood of your partner