Monday, March 28, 2011

Summary Post: Ehrenreich, CrDitenden, Pinand, and Mainardi

Maid to Order by Ehrenreich

Ehrenreich points out the change of the role of housework in women's lives. In the 1960's and 70's housework was seen as an equalizer among women because, regardless of status, all women cleaned their own homes. However, this shifted as women began to hire housekeepers and became a means of oppression and a way to create a certain hierarchy. Before, the home was considered by some feminists to be supporting capitalism because men couldn't contribute to the economy if they had to do all the work at home. Because of this, men were seen by certain feminists to be domestic exploiters. Housework became a point of power. It is a degrading job so if you didn't have to do it, you had power over the people who did have to. Hiring people to work as housekeepers and clean for other women became a trend in 1999. There was huge growth in the market between 1995 and 1999. Although 80% of women continue to clean their own homes, Ehrenreich points out that the 20% who aren't are the ones with the actual power and money who make a political or social statement. It is especially notable that the women who are doing the cleaning are often women of color. This further enforces the idea of a hierarchical system. Ehrenreich makes the observation that children growing up now are being raised in a "servants economy." They are living in make believe lives where the socks they drop on the floor are magically picked up. We are generating a world of kids who don't realize the implications of the things they do on other people. This could be extremely dangerous in the future.

The Mommy Tax by Critenden

Critenden starts out with an enraged statement, saying that an antifeminist group quoted that women were now earning 98 cents to every man's dollar. This is deceitful because it is only childless women from 27 to 33 years of age. She claims that mothers are the most disadvantaged women in any workplace and will lose hoards of money throughout their lives if they choose to play the motherhood role. Having children can even lead to poverty if the mother was close to the line before becoming pregnant. She discusses the better systems in France and Sweden where the government is very supportive of mothers, making it much easier for them to have children without having to sacrifice their careers. Critenden also points out the difficulties for women working blue collar jobs. These women are often forced to take on overtime and miss training sessions while they are on maternity leave. The inability to handle these added responsibilities often results in the loss of a job which leaves mothers in poverty. I thought one of Critenden's best points was that a woman who goes home when she is supposed to, not even early, endangers her well being and her position. This is not the way it should be, especially for mothers trying to hold families together. This seems to be exactly what happened to DiBiasi. Anti-feminists also point to small businesses as a way to say that women are doing better and are not being discriminated against. Yet, although more women than ever have them, 45% of the businesses are run straight out of their own homes. To be fair though, it isn't only discrimination towards women. Fathers who had working wives earned 20% less than other men. This implies that parents in general miss out. Critenden mentions the "Be a Man" strategy, meaning hold of having children and work long hours as long as you possibly can. However, many women then miss out on having children altogether, which is a strong price to pay for a career.

Stories from the Sidelines by Pinand

Pinand describes her experience as a young woman, new to the corporate office. She discusses her qualms about how she will maintain a healthy family life with her career goals. She then goes into her own experiences in the workplace and how they have formed her so far. Pinand points to the importance of "face time" in the workplace. It seems that it doesn't matter how much anyone can get done and how efficient they are if they are not at the office. Reviews and recommendations from supervisors end up mattering much more than the actually work that has been done in the end. She also emphasizes the "tone from the top" idea. The management essentially mandates how other people will act. By one senior choosing not to take advantage of family friendly policies, it then becomes frowned upon for others to as well. She also notes the fact that she's afraid to voice her opinions on these subjects because she can't risk her livelihood. This made me think of "The Globetrotting Sneaker" because the women of Asia don't really have a choice either and therefore, are forced to endure unfair conditions in the workplace without a way out.

The Politics of Housework by Mainardi

Mainardi mainly uses examples from her personal life to illustrate the politics of housework. She believes that men find housework below themselves. Although they will begin a relationship acting like they are willing to share the load, they will eventually make it so difficult and painfully annoying for their spouse, that she will end up doing most of the work herself. Mainardi claims that men prefer to do jobs that they can see the effect of in the long run, like fixing the garbage disposal, as opposed to ones you can't, like dirty dishes. Although no one likes doing these jobs, Mainardi believes that men have become used to not doing them. This ties in nicely to Ehrenreich's point that men cleverly made just enough effort to make it look like they tried with the housework, and were able to slip under the radar.

1 comment: