@tracydurnell Yay! How excellent to be able to take a breath in this way. Exciting — it could lead to something totally unexpected.
@tracydurnell I went through this adjustment a few years ago; now, my wife is our bread winner and I'm the freelancer. I love your observations! Encouraging to see some familiar things there. I still struggle with the separation of self worth from productivity...I tell myself its subversive instead of lazy, but sometimes I feel like I'm "freeloading" off my spouse. We are so trained...
@restlesslens I like that framing, "subversive" 🦾 My husband has told me he wants to keep working, so I'm trying to see that as a route that works well for him while it's never really suited me, so it makes sense to try something different -- to trust in our partnership as we both contribute different things.
I imagine it will be a long long journey to totally uninstall the self worth - productivity connection since we're steeped in that culture continuously -- though I feel like more and more people are recognizing it's a harmful attitude and trying to reject it!
@tracydurnell Oh, I'm a couple of days late to this post but honestly I could relate to almost every single word! I left teaching at the end of last year and since then I've basically been a "housewife" (lol what an old-fashioned word…) which is, actually, a ton of work. It's just that almost no one respects it as work, because you don't have a boss paying you for it. Once upon a time the feminist movement tried to draw attention to the reality that housework is work, but those days seem far behind us, even though it's as true as ever. I still struggle to break free from the hold the "cult of productivity" has over my psyche, sometimes; lifelong conditioning, I guess. I also like @restlesslens's framing that we're doing something subversive :)
@jayeless I have a feeling there are a lot of people in the same boat, especially after the last two years! Too many jobs that just aren't worth it.
Time to reclaim the word 'homemaker'? 😉 Making the place you live feel comfortable is an undervalued (and challenging) skill. But it's easy not to notice.
Also makes me think of a quote I saw recently, the gist being everyone wants to make or build something new, no one wants to do maintenance and operations. Running a household is an endless cycle of both. There's no launch party for successfully getting dinner on the table every night 😂
@restlesslens @tracydurnell @jayeless During the periods of my life when I was doing care work at home, I kept in mind how much it would have cost us to pay someone else to do what I was doing (bookkeeping; bill paying; around-the-clock childcare; taking care of our pets; house cleaning; gardening; menu planning; grocery shopping; cooking; household shopping; home decorating; driving; household organization and decluttering; laundry service; holiday and special events planning, set-up and tear-down; scheduling and managing home / car repairs).
But let's set aside childcare, which is notoriously expensive.
It still costs a pretty penny to hire a bookkeeper, a house cleaning service, a landscaper, a private chef, a private car service, a veterinary tech, a dog walker, a cat sitter, a private home health aid, an errand running service, an interior decorator, a laundry service, an event planner, a professional organizer, a personal secretary, and someone to house-sit while a contractor is in your home making a repair.
Whatever we may think of "productivity culture" and its relationship to capitalism, homemakers are highly productive. Iceland noticed their impact in 1975.
Unpaid, but productive.
@tracydurnell yes; the endless maintenance part is why routines and defining how much is "enough" for a day or a week is really helpful.
@annahavron @tracydurnell @jayeless I think that’s a great point! The whole insidious productivity compulsion even defines productivity in such rediculously narrow terms that I can know I’ve been busy but still feel like I haven’t gotten anything done because I didn’t have a title and nobody paid me. This idea of “being productive” is very specific.
@annahavron you've reminded me of an article you wrote about using index cards to document process / "enough" for cleaning which I thought was brilliant then never did anything with 😂
@annahavron @jayeless when you write all those jobs out like that it feels like quite the deal to get that many services from one person - I like the idea of thinking of myself as Household Operations Manager and CFO 😂
@restlesslens "I can know I’ve been busy but still feel like I haven’t gotten anything done" this rings true for sure! Maybe it'll help to remember there are always days like that at work too, where you go, huh I guess I really did spend all day coordinating and dealing with admin 🤷♀️ Or, to figure out what tasks feel meaty enough to feel like tangible progress, and try to fit one of those in every day?
@restlesslens Cash-based economies are very new, historically speaking; and define productivity in terms linked to monetary value on the market. But I've lived in a few places where people survived because they knew how to farm / garden / hunt, knew how to make their own clothing / furniture / shelter, knew how to cook and preserve food. It is absolutely productive to do work that sustains a household, the people and animals in it, and the land around you.
@tracydurnell @jayeless @restlesslens I can't believe I forgot to list the household management role! Which is very much a separate role. So we would be adding the cost of paying for a household steward, or butler.
@tracydurnell Defining what is "enough" or when you are "done" with work that technically never ends is extremely liberating. I think much of this applies to knowledge work as well.
@tracydurnell I’ve been in a similar situation for five years now. For me the trick is not to ditch productivity but to redefine it in terms not (necessarily) translatable to cash. Maybe ask “what is better because I have lived this day?” Some days it may be your own health.
@tracydurnell This is so true! And yet the really important things in life are all cyclical.
@annahavron You're so right about the management of a household being such a productive activity. About a decade ago I read the stat that the "value" of unpaid labour done by a stay-at-home spouse could be valued at $250,000 per annum... not that I think the worth of human activity is actually defined by how much someone might be willing to pay for it, but it shows that even within the logic of capitalism itself, domestic labour is valuable. I think the reason we're told to feel inadequate if that's what we spend our time doing is that it's better yet for capitalism if we work for the capitalists and pull a second shift doing domestic labour for free. So they try to gaslight us into thinking that this second shift is nothing 🙃 @restlesslens @tracydurnell
@jayeless Two quick thoughts: 1) We need to separate inherit human worth from market value. Some of the people I've worked with are bed-bound and demented. This in no way diminishes their human worth, or the moral obligation to treat them as persons with inherent dignity, even if they need help with every body function. 2) Domestic labor is unquestionably valuable; it is simply not valued by mass culture. When our only measure of value is money, we are, in fact, spiritual indigents.
@jayeless Long, long ago (1970s) I met some people involved in a "Wages for Housework" campaign. I understood the motivation, but their ideas for implementation made it sound ridiculous. (Main idea was that "The State" would pay the wages. How would we like that?) The idea that we'd make something less oppressive by bringing it into the money economy sounds like an "out of the frying pan, into the fire" scenario to me.
@annahavron Yes, absolutely. I completely agree.
@JMaxB Well, one of the big reasons they called for wages to be paid was that women were financially dependent on their husbands, not all of whom were reasonable people. If women aren't financially independent we are vulnerable, but the contemporary "solution" that women should work paid jobs full-time and still do all the housework is obviously not ideal :) Honestly I think this is where something like a Universal Basic Income would be really helpful, even though that would require some scrupulously careful implementation too, or else everyone would just find themselves having to pay additional rent of 2x the UBI…
@jayeless Amen to UBI. Lots of implementation questions, but I think it will become more and more important...