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Thursday, 31 October 2013


I have been wondering about this for a while now, trying to figure out why housekeeping tasks like cleaning, doing laundry, gardening or caring for young kids and the elderly are considered menial labour and if given a choice, why most of us prefer to pay someone else to do it. Cooking for some reason has a higher prestige value than cleaning but even then, it is still more praiseworthy it seems, to go earn money then cook a decent meal for your family.

It is also interesting to note that all of these responsibilities usually fall under the umbrella of "women's work". Going out and earning has more status because that is traditionally the male domain.  I am all for women studying and working, what I have a problem with is the assumption that the work which women traditionally did is less valuable. I would make the argument that housework, rearing children, caring for the old, and the sick is extremely valuable but under-appreciated work. Instead of looking down at mothers and grandmothers as simply "housewives", perhaps society needs to acknowledge the role these women play in holding society together.

I also take beef with how this work is "outsourced" to other women. Nannies, day care workers and maids are generally women with less options. The wealthier woman gets to go out and work somewhere else while other women step in to do what she would have to do. Housework is never ending and at times tedious but so is most work. After a while, even a dream job starts weighing down as monotonous. So why is house work seen as unfulfilling drudgery? Most people work at jobs they don't like most of the time, how is that any different? Oh, yes I remember now; other work comes with pay, leave and benefits. People keep talking about "leaning in", well lean in everyone whether man, woman or dog and take pride in working around the home. It's where you live after all!

Bills have to be paid and food put on the table but respect should be paid, not just to the one paying the bills but also to the one actually putting food on the table. In many situations, both partners have to earn in order to make ends meet. There is no choice other than getting help but please treat the help with respect. The work they do is invaluable.

1 comment:

  1. I like helping out the elderly and younger people. I wouldn't mind helping a sick person, or helping my mother with housework.