On Gender


Who’s Second Shift?

Women haven’t changed a bit.

A while ago, Arlie Hochschild’s book "The Second Shift" created a sensation. She used a methodology that was never peer-reviewed to survey only 50 suburban two-job couples in which over half the wives worked part time She asked about only traditional female jobs, forgetting the honey-do list or anything around the house commonly handled by men like the furnace and repairs.

Since her results could cause a sensation, the media obliged, and "The Second Shift" rocketed to the best-seller lists. It was what women wanted to hear.

To everyone’s shock and horror she claimed that, far from any household equality, every year, women worked a month of 24-hour days more than men. While women still bore the burden of everything they’d always done, then added the little men did (a mere job, that even a woman can do), men’s habits hadn’t changed to compensate the new female privilege of a job. (Excuse me, burden.) According to her, men do almost nothing around the house, again, only measuring chores like cooking and cleaning.

The fact that other, academic studies done at the same time were finding quite the opposite – such as those done regularly by the University of Michigan – was inconvenient for sensation, so ignored. Nobody heard that other studies found that American women, in total, work 3.1 hours a week less than men; that while the average woman does 17 hours a week more work in the home than the average man, the average man has not only increased his load at home but still works 24 hours more outside; that the average man does 2 hours a week more commuting; and that fathers now average 75% of the child care of mothers compared to 25% 40 years ago. No one wanted to know this so the myth became entrenched: long suffering woman and useless man. Hardly a new one for women to conjure, any more than are similar ones about women conjured by men.

But I don’t mean to quibble. Not whatsoever. What are mere facts compared to female emotion? Women are oppressed. I take "The Second Shift" at face value.

Hochschild is saying that women have it all. Not just both ways, but all 37. Women have not relinquished control of the household; fight like mad in every legislature to prevent equal parenting to keep children to themselves; and a wife can have whatever career with whatever full or part-time job purely for personal fulfilment, not out of obligation as is still demanded of men.

This could only be cause for celebration. Surely Hochschild proclaimed a great victory for women: the realization of all their dreams.

Incredibly, no. It was grounds for complaint! Not simply complaint, complaint about men. While, since the 1960s, women have turned cartwheels to do everything men do, seeing little value in what only women had done before, men have selfishly not seen much value in what used to be only women’s, either. How could they be so lazy, selfish and self-centered to not demand half the housework when women have been so considerate about what they did?

I’m seeing no difference from 1962, nor any other time before this brave new women’s world. Women still hold men to account for their every desire and complaint, and clearly always will.

We may as well get used to it, guys. Women will always give men all the power just to be able to complain. Take comfort that they will always supremely need us, if only for someone to do that complain to, insisting we have it all even when they keep it to themselves. It seems a gender thing.

©2007 KC Wilson

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To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons. - Marilyn French


 K.C. Wilson is a social commentator and author of Where's Daddy? The Mythologies Behind Custody-Access-Support, and the e-books: Male Nurturing, Co-parenting for Everyone, The Multiple Scandals of Child Support, and Delusions of Violence: The Secrets Behind Domestic Violence Myths. For his personal life, he prefers anonymity. He writes as a nobody, for he is not your ordinary divorce expert with the usual credentials. He is not a lawyer or psychologist, he is not now nor has he ever been a member of the Divorce Industry. K.C. is simply a thinker and researcher, for the issues are not legal, but human, social and common to all. When change is indicated, should we turn to those that the very status quo which is to be questioned has promoted to "expert?" Society's structures are up to society, not a select few. So his writing is for and about you, the ordinary person. K.C. prefers to be known as simply one himself, and that is how he writes. Find out more at wheres-daddy.com


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