In a Word, No. January 3, 2013Posted by FCM in books!, feminisms, gender roles, pop culture, porn.
Tags: arlie russell hochschild, equality, housework, marriage, the second shift
i just finished reading “the second shift” by arlie russell hochschild in which “two-income” married het couples were interviewed extensively regarding who performs the lions share of the household labor in the context of what the author called the “stalled revolution” of the 1980s. in this book, the author claims that there had been gains made by women and feminists over the years causing womens lives to change drastically, but men were slow to catch up, leaving working married women caught in a stressful, life-sucking bind where they perform the equivalent of an extra month of work every year and their husbands dont.
fascinatingly, according to the author herself, her most important finding was also a very elusive one and the data was difficult to make any sense of at all: that there was no apparent or straighforward economic-based relationship between the wage gap and the leisure gap had apparently confused researchers for a long time. to summarize the data, women who outearn their husbands end up doing even more around the house — with their economically challenged husbands also being domestically challenged, what great catches ay? — than women who earn less than or the same as their husbands, but this makes no economic sense. it would make more economic sense, it is said, if a greater income bought a worker leisure time at home, where the lower-earning spouse allowed the higher-earning spouse to relax around the house to recharge their batteries in preparation for having to go to work the next day. *that* would at least make some kind of sense, it is said. and this is in fact what happens when the man makes more: outearning men were less likely to share the domestic load (21% of them shared somewhat — gee thanks doods!) than were the men who made the same amount (30% of those shared somewhat) as their wives. interestingly, both groups of earners shared some.
what made no sense at all, it had been said, was the fact that the only men who dont share in the second shift at all were those men who made less than their wives. some of the other men interviewed shared the household duties somewhat, but none of the underearning men shared at all.
for her part, this (female) author and researcher realized that there was an “economics of gratitude” at play, which is patriarchal and misogynist at its core: women who outearn their husbands have to properly simper and soothe their husbands castrated egos by doing literally *all* the household chores themselves. i’m sorry! she also noted throughout the book that it is the harsh realities of the patriarchal, misogynistic meat market known as “dating” combined with womens economic insecurity due to workplace sexual harassment and discrimination and lower wages which keep women trapped in all marriages, simpering and soothing, no matter how bad the marriages are. and that married women who desire “equality” in the domestic realm literally start making shit up — creating “family myths” that are not reality-based in order to make any of this palateable to themselves, so they dont leave their husbands, or cause their husbands to leave them by demanding anything from the privileged bastards, or go insane or succumb to the misery and the dreadful, exhausting inequality of the married het partnership.
after all that, she closes with a question: “has the turmoil of the 1970s and 1980s been a temporary phase in preparation for a new kind of marriage in the future? or will [the young people of the 1970s and 1980s] also live in a revolution that is stalled?”
being that its 2013 now, a full 24 years since she first published her question, i think we can probably answer it in a word: and that word would be NO. NO, the inequality of the het partnership does not appear to have been temporary, or if it was, 24 fucking years is too short a time to see any significant change in the institution and realities of marriage from womens perspective, let alone a “new kind of marriage” of which the very idea seems laughable now; and NO, there is no stalled revolution, because if theres no revolution, then theres nothing to stall.
mkay? seriously, what revolution? if anything, she is talking about equality rhetoric, and lets examine — shall we? — what 24 fucking years of equality rhetoric has done for us, or to the quality of womens lives. this includes the extra month of domestic labor working women have traditionally performed as well as the very cogent reasons women have for staying with their men. where are we now? its a fair question to ask, and ima ask it.
for one thing, we now have married men and all men unabashedly using degrading and violent porn, this has only gotten worse over time hasnt it? and more than ever it seems, the entire world comes to bear on women who dont like mens porn use and demand that men change it. things have gotten worse in this area, not better, and this apparent worsening of male behavior and values and culture in particular is seriously problematic to any notion of “shared” or equal parenting, considering that its now extremely toxic and pornsick men that we are hoping will help us raise children. hello!
i mean really. considering all mens porn use, i think we need to seriously consider whether we want men anywhere near children at all, which means that the entire patriarchal institution of fatherhood — fatherhood as we currently know it — is problematic and needs examining (and discarding, now, IMO — but lets consider and discuss first, sure why not?). where does this leave women and “equality” rhetoric, when all working women used to want is for men to take on half the responsibility of the domestic sphere, including childrearing? what the hell are we supposed to do now, now that so many fathers are hopelessly pornsick, and literally cannot look at a vagina or an anus without thinking about penetrating that vagina or anus, and where men clearly agree with and positively-value patriarchy’s pornified sexualization of very young girls, and even babies?
what were we thinking then, for that matter, when we thought that men — the penetrators — would be able to change a diaper the same way women would, without thinking about and being reminded of penetration? we were way, way off. like way. i think we made a serious mistake. and this equality-rhetoric, not only has it failed to achieve what we wanted — womens liberation from male dominance — and its created devastating anti-feminist consequences to boot (the criminalization of female-only organizing for one thing) but 24, 34, 64, 104 years into it, have we even stopped to consider whether its working, or likely to work if we just keep trying (forever), or if “equality” is still what we want? how far can society be reformed, and on what interval will we be reevaluating our assumptions and examining both our losses and gains?
or are we just expected to activate towards “equality” forever, without reevaluating our goals, achievements and efforts at all, and without ever asking ourselves if its working, or what the backlash has been, or *if* its worked *how* and *in what way* has it worked and is it likely to continue working in the future? whatever else it mightve done, i think this equality rhetoric and the ensuing battles have served as an enormous distraction from a pretty obvious truth, and that truth is that things are getting worse, not better. and by THINGS i mean men. and by “pretty obvious” i mean HELLO.
this policy of equality-activating might need a sunset provision. that is all.