“B*tch, you wasn’t with me shooting in the gym” – Drake on Vanessa Bryant, wife of Kobe, in Rick Ross’ “Stay Schemin”
American society does not value childcare and housekeeping. Oh, we say we do. Last week, Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann Romney, got het up when Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen questioned her ability to advise her husband on women’s issues since “[Romney] hasn’t worked a day in her life.” Mrs. Romney countered that raising five children is indeed working–hard work, in fact. And I agree, though I note that as the privileged wife of a millionaire, Ann Romney should hardly be the voice of the average stay-at-home-mom. But I don’t believe all the Conservatives rushing to voice their support of mothers everywhere. And I believe few of the Liberals saying of course parenting is just as valuable as working outside of the home mean it either. That is just not the society we live in.
We live in a society where childcare providers–mostly women–are barely paid living wages. American parental leave pales in comparison to that of most European countries (Parents in Sweden receive a whopping 16 months to care for newborns, for example). And when a woman forgoes a career to help a man reach the pinnacle of success by tending to home and hearth, and then divorces in the face of infidelity, some folks greet the idea of equal division of family wealth with, “Bitch, you wasn’t with me shooting in the gym.” I guess child-rearing skills just aren’t as important as tossing a ball through a hoop with amazing accuracy.
You know when I will believe that our society values housekeeping and childcare? When men do it.
Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of men who are involved spouses and fathers, but few who take primary responsibility for maintaining home and family. That is why childcare providers are unfairly compensated. That is why single mothers without outside employment are not applauded for working hard raising their families. That is why America doesn’t give a damn about affordable and reliable childcare. Housekeeping and childcare are not important because men don’t do it. Because what we really believe is that these things are “women’s work.” And as long as this is true, and we all still live in a sexist society, then these things will always be undervalued. Read more...