Get to work…..and before to it’s too late is a small book with big ideas. Linda R. Hirshman makes many excellent points but based around the Western notion of what constitutes “a good life” - using your talents and capabilities to the fullest and being rewarded for it.
Her reason against the relegation of talented and educated women to the domestic sphere is that it makes them dependant on men for money (those who make the most money wheel the most power) and deprives society of skilled and gifted individuals.
I love how she challenges those who “choose” to stay at home with their children. Her argument is that the choice that these women make are from a narrow set of choices as their husbands or partners aren’t exactly going to give up work (income, opportunities to maintain & develop human capital and the chance to use talents) to stay at home.
She is slightly baffled how the most empowered women are often not able to see how narrow their options are at the moment of choice; that there is little discussion about who will opt out of public life to care for a child equally created by two people.
As if to justify their choice, many women cry out that it was “my choice”, but was it really?
While I write this I can hear the voice of conservative and socially regressive women shouting that women monopolize the ability to look after the children, meaning that it is somehow in their DNA to be primarily responsible for the domestic duties.
Shopping, cleaning and childcare have to be done so why not share the responsibility equally?
Hirshman argues that ‘the family, with its repetitious, socially invisible tasks, is a part of life and has obvious and immediate rewards, but it has fewer opportunities for full human flourishing than the public spheres like the market or the government. This less flourishing sphere is not the natural or moral responsibility of women. Therefore, assigning it to women is unjust’. I wonder which part of the Human Genome would the socially conservative pick out as dictating this division of labour.
The automatic assignment of domestic tasks to women is a frustrating one. As I think of the woman that have made a difference in society (in business, civil society, education, entertainment, politics and, dare I say it, religion) I am glad that times have changed enough for them to contribute.
I hope that society continues to change so that there is an equal distribution of domestic duties which allows couples to equally share time in the public and private sphere because their lives will be richer for it.