How's your unpaid side hustle going?
On this International Women's Day,
I'm thinking not just about the wage gap,
but also about the vast amounts of un- and under-paid work that women do.
I'm talking about your side hustle: householding.
Unless your feminine wiles
have attracted all the neighborhood rodents to help you out,
I'm guessing you have a long ass list
of house and life stuff to do this weekend.
You can google around for various statistics, but it is ABSOLUTELY true all around the world:
Women's un- and under-paid labor
is an economic backbone
ready to break.
If you're a woman married to a man, chances are your partner
does way more than his father did . . .
but still does less than HALF of what you do
yet they believe do as much or even more.
If you, like many of my friends,
are a woman householding without a spouse or children or both,
you probably think you have "nothing to complain about,"
and it shouldn't be such a big deal
to run both a career AND a home.
(Or if you, like many of my other friends,
are a woman householding and kid rearing without a job outside the home,
you probably ALSO think it shouldn't be such a big deal
to run both your kids and your house).
If you're a woman who hires some help,
bills / appointments / paperwork
I bet that this choice to delegate wasn't -
maybe even never is -
easy for you.
"If only you had your shit together,
you'd be able to do it all yourself,"
If only the neighborhood rodents loved you!
why DON'T we count all this work as work?
Three reasons are white supremacy, patriarchy, and class exploitation.
Our country and economy
hell, even our nation's Capitol
was built by unpaid, enslaved people.
We don't count that foundational work
because we have never counted that foundational work.
Labor labeled as "domestic"
has long been relegated to enslaved people,
with the only "payment"
being room and board.
But here's the kicker:
How does this clearly flawed approach remain intact?
How does our bullshit system
keep not counting all the work
the H A R D I M P O R T A N T W O R K
that goes into householding?
Well: it gets us to think it's our fault.
When all the work feels like Too Much,
we blame ourselves for Not Being Good Enough.
When we're too tired to clean the kitchen,
we think it's because we're lazy.
When the clutter piles up,
we think it's because we're slobs.
When we're worn out
we think it's because of something we're doing wrong
rather than because of something
our whole society is doing wrong.
Okay, so what to do?
First: give yourself credit.
Check out this calculator,
that helps you see how much you'd pay Taskrabbit
for the householding work you do.
(Then double it, since you know
that all this work is terribly underpaid).
Second: give yourself a break.
Stop blaming yourself
for being so tired
for living in a mess
for needing more help.
You are not the problem.
Our refusal to acknowledge all this work is the problem.
Third: talk about it.
With your friends
you & your book club can read Overwhelmed, by Brigid Schulte,
and get a wider view
of this whole issue.
Happy International Women's Day.
Join me in celebrating
by clocking out
and doing nothing.