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February 24, 2009

stupid suburbs

Betty Friedan was formulating her definition of feminism and feminine woes in an atmosphere that was incredibly un-inclusive, racist, and in a weird la-la land of white suburbia that continues to be a marker of domestic and financial achievement.

Continue reading "stupid suburbs" »

Blog #3

As a human being regardless of our gender, women and men should have equal opportunity to get hire and promote to traditionally held jobs by men because each women and men will have to make his or her own living in order to survive in this world. A women cannot always depend on the men who have all those privilege to get a job to take care of the women because a women and a men may or may not live with each other forever. The women needs to have all the privilege men has in order to survive independently. "Female workers have moved into male-doinated professions, but...they are still dramatically underrepresented at the highest levels of occupational status and financial reward..." (Williams 67) showed that the work place has not changed much. It changed little by little, which only selectively few women get the job, however, they did not escape the "masculine gender display" Hopkins defined because they are underrepresented. That means that they must wear blue-collar work. Appearance is one of the aspect in the work place, but it shows a lot how unequal pay is related such as in the education department and law school. It is still a big issue in today's everyday job because an excuse like the reading mention to not promote women and for equal pay is being pregnant and motherhood. Women should have equal priviliege otherwise they will have to sacrifices their career for motherhood or ignorant for motherhood, etc. We have to be able to live, that is survive with a job by having equal pay and promotion and the opportunity to reproduce which is a law that does not go against nature.

Who's place is in the kitchen now?

According to Friedan, Ehrenreich, and Hondagneu-Sotelo, housework includes all general maintenance of a household. This includes cooking, cleaning, taking care of children, etc. This form of work is very much so, in our current society, thought of as being inferior to other occupations. An example of this comes though very clearly at my workplace. I work as a manager of an apartment building and when someone signs a lease they must have a co-signer on their lease. Normally this is a parent. As a leasing company we actually can not accept someone as a guarantor if they put housekeeper down as their employment. This shows that this type of career is not even considered being in the workforce to some people.
On the other hand, I do think that more people today feel that it is more than just the female's job to take care of the home, however this job normally lands on the female's responsibilities either way. Even now in today's society jobs like nannies and maids are becoming more popular. This is even another feminist issue at the fact that the householders may be too busy to run a home so they leave the "busy work" as some my call it to the maid.
This very much plays into politics within a debate of equal compensation. Women that stay home may feel that men will be getting paid more, so if one person is going to find a job outside of the home and someone stay home it should be the male figure. I have personal qualms with this issue because going into college I actually wanted to be a home keeper with a part time job. I knew right away that this was thought of as a women's job because as soon as I told someone about my plans I was actually laughed at by several female friends saying that guys are not supposed to do that. Both women and men alike are perpetuating the thoughts of today's society that are within these articles.

Nothing Better to do

It seems as though Betty Friedan’s view and overall contentions contributed to the strife that is seen and described in the two following blogs. It is her idea that women should have something more to live for, in conjunction with the fact that she doesn’t even consider the possiblility that the husband to these housewives should do any work. This seems shortsighted and lacking in one of the biggest aspects that made feminism, at that time, what it was.

Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo take on the view that housework is essentially work that is done in a house, and so those who live in the house should take on part of that work. At times, Hondagneu-Sotelo seems to shun the idea that there should be maids at all. I find Ehrenreich’s argument that house work is left for those with “Nothing better to do” as opposed to the more affluent people who have “something better to do” with their time is, to a level, insulting. The housekeepers that Ehrenreich refers to are commonly immigrants who have little to no higher education, or English speaking skills. I have been lucky enough to be able to pursue higher education, effectively, that means, that it is more worth my time to pay someone, for whom this may be one of the few chances at job, than it would be for me to be doing that same work. I do have something better to do with my time, but that housekeeper needs a job, and I can give her one, so essentially, it is worth her time far more than it is worth mine.

However, the ability to work to a higher goal is one that all people should get as much help with as possible in achieving that. This should start with the housekeeper getting the respect and dignity that everyone “affluent” expects. This respect and value will go a long way in improving the conditions of workers, as their view of themselves in this society will change, and more opportunities will be taken.

This should be a political issue, as house keeping is a legitimate job, and the workers should be protected the same way workers in all parts of society are protected. This is the first step in promoting respect for those in this field.

February 23, 2009

Question #3

From these readings, we can conclude that housework consists of labor which maintains the home and the family. This labor is not only physical, but emotional as well. Friedan claims that in the mid 20th century, housework was non-professional work; work by which women could still make money, but money that it was earned in the home, by use of their domestic skills, and not theirs to freely spend. Friedan explains how unhappy so many women were in their suburban, middle-class setting, stuck at home and forced to limit their entire life's purpose to the cleanliness of their home and the happiness of their children and husband. I understand her point to an extent, but I do think that she is really undermining the love and talent it takes to raise a family, and that many women were and still are passionate about homemaking. Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo bring to light, however, that when it is not the mother staying home, that a lot of times it is poor women who travel here from other countries to serve as nannies and housekeepers while their white, middle-class American employers are off at work. A lot of times these workers are not paid enough and are taken advantage of. I think this is definitely a political issue because, as these reading highlight, this work does not come with benefits like others jobs; it is not (or rarely) fair and forgiving with vacation time, raises, insurance, etc. So something needs to be done to insure that these workers are treated fairly and respectfully.

Blog Question #3

Friedan, it seems, views housework in terms of dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment of suburban housewives in particular. It is a task that, along with the care of husband and children, was supposed to form the entirety of women’s goals and dreams during the mid to late 20th century. Friedan’s article is written primarily from a suburban woman’s perspective (as Friedan was herself, along with being a successful journalist). Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo, view housework as a way in which we maintain a patriarchal, classist society. Upper and middle class women delegate their housework to workers within their home. These workers are usually of a lower class and primarily African American and Latina women. Both Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo mention that the laws standardizing practices for these workers are inadequate and not enforced or even encouraged. Hondagneu-Sotelo mentions that part of this inequality stems from the fact that housework occurs in such a private area, i.e. the home, and that housework needs to be considered the same as any other job and afforded similar benefits and dignities.
I think its clear that housework has become a political issue, simply due to controversy over certain groups being systemically obliged to seek these kinds of jobs, and that their benefits and terms of labor are not satisfactory. Solutions to these problems will occur on a political level, as legislation over proper wages and hours must be created and enforced on both the federal and state level.

Question 3

In the three articles, housework is mainly referring to the manual labor involved with keeping a house clean, such as vacuuming, dusting, picking up and sorting items, etc., but also relates to overall household activities like childcare. The work itself is devalued because it doesn’t produce a commodity. You can’t sell a freshly mopped floor to someone. Because it is something that always needs to be done, but doesn’t have an obvious product at the end, many people simply overlook it as not real work. They fail at appreciating what went into the clean floors and the amount of time and energy that was invested in maintaining a certain standard of living. Personally, I think that all members of a household should do the housework. (Obviously up to their ability. A three year old can’t vacuum or play with cleaning supplies but can pick up toys.) When people don’t do their fair share of work, it puts the strain on other members living there and those members don’t deserve the extra work. When those with the extra work (generally women) are liberated from it by enlisting a maid or cleaning service, they are placing that work on someone else’s shoulders. Those shoulders are often female, immigrants, have little education, and disrespected. They are often not seen as real workers and our laws don’t fully protect them. Many in our society don’t view maids’ work as ‘real’ work and this results in lower wages, often coming out to below the minimum wage. These women can and are taken advantage of. This makes it a political issue because they are doing a service that should have the same amount of political safeguard as any other job but doesn’t.

Blog 3

All three authors stress that housework is viewed as a woman’s duty, not any kind of work that would entitle employees to a living wage, time off, and respect from employers. Friedan’s piece, which is much more dated than the other two, addresses the social environment that bound all women to housework and childcare at that time. The chapters by Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo, both written nearly 40 years after “The Feminine Mystique,” make it clear that women can successfully escape the daily routine of housework, but at the expense of other, ill-compensated women. Women who are capable of securing a better-paid and more enjoyable position than domestic work leave a void that is quickly filled mostly by poor immigrant women. Because housework and child care are not viewed as respectable occupations, and because of the stigma already associated with lower-class immigrants, these domestic workers living and/or working in wealthier homes are not treated with respect and often not compensated their entitled wage.
I believe that housework should be a political issue. As it stands today, domestic work as a field severely restricts the mobility of a class of people that already face a set of challenges. By keeping these women in positions of servitude and quieting any of their protests, we are perpetuating the same problem Friedan popularized back in the 1960s. The social advancement of one population is not progress if another population is held back.

cruel cycle

Housework, for all three authors, is a devisive feminist issue that stems from a pervasive social hierarchical power inequality. Although the three articles have different perpectives, all have the same focus – people at the bottom of a hierarchy of power who are unable or unwilling (because of societal pressure) to take control of their work lives. It seems a cruel cycle that those who perform menial household labor are regarded are devalued and therefore have no alternatives but to perform menial household labor at the behest of those with more power or more valueable careers. Erenreich writes from the perspective of someone priviledged enough not to have to perform household labor but who cares to know how the industry works from the inside. Hondagneu-Sotelo writes from a position of activism, and Friedan from the perspective ofan earlier feminist outlook. But all three women recognize the basic inequality that has caused the greater devaluing of domestic service – men (for the most part) refuse to engage in household chores at the same rate as women. This makes all topics surrounding domestic labor feminist issues. As with birth control, race is a motivating factor, and one that is left out of Fridan’s piece. When looked at sequentially, these articles in some ways document a move toward a system that views housework as even less worthwhile. It becomes something no one would voluntarialy do so that only those in the lowest positions in society will do it. I also thought about the way maids are sexualized and romanticized in popular culture. Naughy or sexy maid costumes are sold for Halloween, and movies like Maid in Manhatten romanticize a situation that in reality never ends up happily ever after. Housework is a feminist issue and should be a political issue. Sadly, like many other issues that effect millions of women’s lives in our country, it is seen as less vital than issues that threaten the prosperity of the privileged.

Blog 3

After reading all three articles, I feel that each author makes valid points regarding housework. I think that these women differ in many of their opinions, but they all stand together and agree as to what kind of work housework is. Housework is consists of the everyday labors that need to be carried out in order to sustain a functional house. This consists of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. In Freidan’s article, I felt that she belittled housework by constantly using the words “problem” “dissatisfaction” and/or “incomplete”. In my eyes, she discredited those women who engage in housework, especially by referring to these women as “women who had once wanted careers” or “they are not career women.” This is where the authors disagree. Ehreneich and Hondagneu-Sotelo view housework quite differently, conveying housework as an occupation. This way of thinking immediately qualifies housework as a political issue, particularly because these workers are being treated unfairly. Not only are houseworkers underpaid for the amount of work that they perform, they are also limited in regards to bonuses and benefits. These workers are being exploited due to the lack of demands within cleaning careers, yet the majority of high-scale employees would never take part in the dirty work of the cleaning industry. As Ehreneich describes this situation, it is most likely because the employer has “something better” to do with their time.
I felt that Freidan did a nice job of revealing the emotions of house workers, but Ehreneich and Hondagneu-Sotelo introduced their readers to the unfamiliar side of this issue: the politics regarding the lack of pay, the lack of benefits, and most importantly, the lack of recognition and respect. These workers deserve more for what they do. If better wages and working conditions cannot be granted immediately, I think value can be.

Blog 3

According to Friedan, Ehrenreich, and Hondagneu-Sotelo, housework includes cleaning and maintaining the house, cooking, taking care of children, and the overall domestic management of the house. It is definitely devalued in relation to other forms of work. Other forms of work, or as people refer to them “real jobs”, often requires someone to have a particular area of expertise or a special skill. Although housework requires skill, it is seen more as “common knowledge.” Also, it is hard to determine the level of skill needed because the level of “cleanliness” desired differs in each household. Especially in today’s popular media, housework is not seen as a “job.” Primarily, these are tasks that are completed by women. However, as our gender roles continued to be challenged by today’s society, more and more men are seen engaging in this “housework.” Feminists who desire to be “liberated” from this type of work have done so at the expense of other women. Often, women wealthy enough to afford “outside help,” take their liberation to the next level. Instead of doing the work themselves, they hire other, often lower-class immigrants, to do the work for them. Since these women see these tasks as “remedial” and unimportant, the women they hire to do it for them are often not fairly compensated.
I think that, clearly, this has become a political issue. We can’t ignore the fact that there is a certain stigma to the word “housework” the kind of people that are required to do these tasks. Certain groups of people are forced to seek labor in this field and because it is so undervalued, they are not treated properly or compensated fairly. Politicians need to get involved so that these women are granted fair wages and treatment.

Blog #3

I felt that Friedan devalued housework by describing that being confined to your own house was a disease, an unnamed sickness that could not be explained but could in some ways be defined as wondering, “is this all?” Friedan made housework a mindless, unfulfilling task for the women who only wanted to be “feminine” and not real women (in Friedan’s definition) who “…want something more than my husband and my children and my home.”
Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo had a different view on housework and perceived working in the home was another occupation but that the fact that the people doing the housework were not only looked down on but also overworked, underpaid, and exploited in other ways was the aspect that needed to be reformed and not the abolishment of the industry altogether. I see how when some women leave the home to work, that someone else has to take over the home in some areas, but I feel that everyone has a choice whether this is oppressive and at the expense of another person or not. It comes down to whether the employer wants to make the housework seem beneath her and the person who “does her dirty work” inferior or if there can be equality and respect between the employer and employee.
This should and is a political issue for the public and for the authors because common benefits and attributes of many other jobs aren’t often found in the cleaning industry. I acknowledge the problem with the large percentage of immigrant workers in the cleaning industry who prefer to be paid off the books, but this still doesn’t mean that and immigrant worker shouldn’t receive competitive pay and bonuses like overtime allowances and sick time. This is a political issue because there is so much variance across the country on benefits and salary and this will continue to be a political issue until there is adequate standardization.

February 22, 2009

Question 3

According to Friedan, Ehrenreich, and Hondagneu-Sotelo, housework is all the things that need to be done on a regular basis around the home. This includes laundry, dishes, cleaning the floors and dusting, etc. Friedan also saw taking care of the children and cooking as housework, but from the other readings I thought that the authors meant housework was more of the chores around the house that no one wants to do, and less of the things such as cooking and raising the children. It is devalued by society because even though a there are skills involved, there is no right way to do this kind of work. Housework has more to do with personal preference in what the people who live there want and need. Also, it is a life skill learned gradually instead of a professional skill learned in an educational setting, which we have been taught to value because people with the most education make the most money. Traditionally women do the housework, but now a-days it seems to be split between women and children who do their chores that are dolled out by the parents. Strangely though, most men still have a kind of supervisory role in the housework. They do not do it, but want their opinion heard when it is not done to their liking. Bringing someone in to do the housework can help avoid the heirarchy in the home, but hired help is a complex issue for feminists because most maids are lower-class women. The problem is that even though having help for the housework liberates the woman who can then go out and work, it exploits the poor woman who is hired to clean that house because, as Ehrenreich said, she apparently has “nothing better to do” which implys she is inferior to the woman she is working for.

Question 3

According to the authors Fredan, Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo housework includes maintaining the house in a physical sense as well as maintaining the family in the domestic sense. (I.e. cleaning, cooking, taking care of the children ect.) Fredan’s opinion on housework was somewhat unnerving, suggesting that it does not take any particular talent to do these things. She also described women’s liberation in these terms of being able to leave the house hold to pursue and maintain careers while leaving the domestic work to hired help. I see several holes in this argument; the most gaping of which is the fact that not every household can afford hired help. Even with both parents holding stable careers, raising children is not exactly financially effortless. Also, it is not an uncommon fact that children benefit most from being raised by maternal parents. Whether it is the mother, father, or preferably both parents, it is healthier for children to grow under the guidance of their biological parents. Having a hired hand constantly doing all domestic work would create a barrier in family life. Another argument that I believe should have been brought forth is the idea that “housework” can and should be a shared responsibility. There is no reason why every member of a family cannot contribute to the maintenance of the home. In this sense I do not see the need for housework to become a political issue. It has breached the political playing field because of labor laws and fair wages being paid to those who do hire help—but in the sense of the feminist issue; who should be doing the housework, politics really does not have a reasonable application.

Question #3

Friedan, Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo say that housework includes cleaning the house, raising children, and managing the household. Friedan devalues housework in relation to working outside the home. As she sees it, women have the capability of being more than just mothers and wives, suggesting that it does not take anyone especially talented or bright to do what a housewife does. Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo see it a different way; they value housework in relation to other forms of work. They agree that housework can be taxing, both mentally and physically, and it they advocate more rights for those that do housework. Friedan fails to mention that men could be more helpful when it comes to housework, but the other two authors both agree that, while it is more stereotyped for women to be doing housework, it can and should be the responsibility of men as well. Friedan's vision of women's liberation was that women could leave the home to pursue careers, leaving the housework for hired help. Ehrenreigh and Hondagneu-Sotelo brought to light the fact that while those women are liberated, the ones that they hire to do their housework are being exploited. Housework then becomes a political issue because the women being hired are not being payed as well as they should be, are not given the benefits they are entitled to, and are treated without respect. I agree that it should be treated as a political issue because these women are just as much a part of the work force as any else. They have rights, yet are being exploited and convinced that it is okay for them to be treated like that. Though there are laws in place, they need to be revamped and enforced, and until that happens it will continue to be a political issue.

February 19, 2009

Blog Question #3: Feb 23

The Politics of Housework: According to Friedan, Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo, what kind of work is housework? How is it (de) valued in relation to other forms of work? Who does (and/or should do) the housework? How have some feminists' visions of being liberated from home and this housework come at the expense of other women? Why is housework a political issue for the authors? Do you think it should be a political issue? Why or why not?

February 18, 2009

Pro-choice lobby day!

Hey everyone, I meant to mention during class that March 25th is Pro-Choice Lobby Day, and everyone should sign up! It's pretty much a full day (food provided) of meeting with representatives, break out groups, and a rally. Go here to sign up, or for more info: http://www.prochoicelobbyday.org/. The University Pro-Choice Coalition is having a preliminary meeting to figure out transportation, logistics, etc. on March 10th at 5:30 in Coffman 202.

If you can't make it, stop by Coffman 202 (which is the WSAC room, by the way) to fill out a NEAT postcard to senator or representative, and we'll drop it off for you when we go. There'll be snacks and button-making! You can write your own message on the postcard, and we can all talk about how our congresspeople should conceptualize choice in a social justice framework!