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Video: Life, Work, Battle. About Reproductive Labor - Blogs, Quality Of Life, Society
2023 Author: Oswald Adamson | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 12:13
When I see on the table cup of yogurt or underwear lying on the tank, rather than inside it, or crumbs all over the floor, I think o̶ ̶t̶sch̶e̶t̶n̶o̶s̶t̶i̶ ̶v̶s̶e̶g̶o̶ ̶s̶u̶sch̶e̶g̶o̶ … ̶k̶a̶k̶ ̶o̶t̶r̶a̶s̶t̶i̶t̶̶ ̶d̶z̶e̶n̶ ̶p̶o̶t̶o̶l̶sch̶e̶ … no, I think "again!" and "as much as possible!" Of course, I could call the culprits of the disorder and force them to bring the matter to the end, but this would mean a double, or even triple, loss of time: to get in touch, to explain what exactly does not suit you, perhaps to enter into polemics. Is it strange that only very principled mothers and wives “do nothing for their children and husbands”? The rest are just saving their strength.
Reproductive labor is not about reproduction
And we really need strength. When a woman is at home, her time is filled with reproductive labor. No, this is not about a pleasant process leading to an increase in the number of people on Earth.
Reproductive labor is daily labor with a constantly disappearing result
This is about clothes that again require washing-drying-ironing, endless cooking, dust smiling again from the corners, “Mom, I pooped!”, Lessons, studio sections.
Of course, the result of reproductive domestic work can be considered, but only for a short period of time. Here it is, lunch! And, no, this is already a frying pan in the sink … Here is a clean floor! Where? He was just here! And again - "on the stake, start over."
Why is it difficult?
Somehow, and more than once, I wanted to calculate how long each day it takes me to finish what others have not completed. Each of the actions is small, from the category of "what is difficult for you?" (that's what I say to myself). But there are a lot of such actions every day, and it becomes critical.
Switching is what our brain spends a lot, a lot of energy on. And every such small thing, damn it, is a switch to it, and then back. And whether this will take place "back" in a multi-mother with a two-year-old spinning nearby - the answer is clear.
Perhaps people in white clothes have now become dignified and are ready to write something like “you yourself are not accustomed to order, so the children are not accustomed”. Try to keep from walking your coat. Perhaps a woman with one child, 16 years old, finds it easier to run a household with all its passing results. It is much more difficult for a woman to cope with any number of children, including a baby 1.5-3 years old. But also not a fact. I met a lot of women with already grown-up children, who were busy in the professional sphere, and there was neither time nor energy for household chores.
What are you doing at home?
I have a lot of feelings about this topic.
The first is great empathy for women. Because even in "advanced" families, the distribution of household chores between a man and a woman is clearly on the female scale. And not only in Russia. I was inspired by a Facebook post with illustrations by French artist Emma. Everything is no less complicated there.
The second feeling is a huge surprise. Working with women, I was able to find out that many of them simply do not track how much domestic reproductive labor they do! They call themselves "lazy" (sometimes they are mothers with many children with babies in their arms) and blame themselves that they do not have time even more than they already do. They also blame themselves for being "constantly distracted."
Then the psychologist Julia becomes meticulous, draws a sign and asks to name all the things that a woman does, starting with opening her eyes in the morning. I make sure that nothing is missed. For example: "I load the laundry into the machine" - "and when you load the laundry, what else are you doing?" - "On the way, I pick up things from the bathroom floor that did not end up in the tank, I find my son's typewriter, which he was looking for all day, I take the typewriter to the typewriter box …" I see, right? It's not one thing to "load laundry into the machine", it's at least three!
So we paint the whole day and it becomes surprising that the woman had 16 hours for all this (it is not always domestic work, we take everything into account). And sometimes it becomes clear why you have to “bite off” from sleep over and over again. Sometimes (miraculously) we can find time to study.
At home, the woman is in the "playing coach" position. She has an "honorable" role as the main one on the farm. She is not only the main performer, she is also the manager-organizer. It is she who remembers about bills, payments, when to get the next vaccination, about birthdays for everyone in a row, about clothes for growth, so that it is cheap and good, parents' meeting and whether there is buckwheat
The comic I mentioned has a great picture "When I started planning, I didn't have time to implement." But we almost never take this moment into account! If someone told us “do this, then that”, it would be easier, because we would not have to constantly keep in mind rather complicated family and household locations. About the fact that the husband's suit must be dry-cleaned no later than Monday, because he has to fly on a business trip, that on the same Monday he has to make an appointment with a doctor, and also buy origami paper for his son at school (not counting the already familiar little things like lunch, dinner) - and all this at the same time. When we begin to forget at the age of 35 what we could remember 5 years ago is not old age, it is a load.
Where are the men?
And men are traditionally distributed from "this is a woman's work" to "I help my wife." Equal distribution of reproductive labor between partners in heterosexual families is still rare. If you look at what the "male" duties of the period, starting from the last third of the 20th century, are, you can find an amazing thing: they are almost all productive. I hammered a nail into the wall once - the result lasts for years. I repaired the crane - it works for a noticeable time. Pasted the wallpaper - forever!
Those who “help their wife” are, of course, smart. It is they who facilitate the performing part, while usually not lightening the mental load. "I would ask," "and what did you not remind me?" - a woman should remember and be responsible for everything. And women try to bear responsibility along with guilt: I forgot it, did not remind, but he was ready to help! (on this occasion, please see the wonderful video "Marina" by the group "Leningrad").
I also wrote earlier (sinful) that it would be nice for women to learn how to “delegate authority” in the household. But "delegation" is a management term. This, however, was at that breakthrough moment, when the topic “everyday life - not only a woman's topic” was only gaining momentum. Now is a new stage: it is not women who need to learn to delegate. It would be nice for us to forget how to think that we are "being helped", but to learn to think about a joint contribution. Everyday life is a joint zone, and not at all female, that's enough already. And it's time for men to overcome everyday infantilism and, living for many years in the same house, to study where the means for washing the sink are.
Dangerous for health
The best thing that I have read on this topic belongs to Daria Laponova (it was her post that inspired me to write this text).
“The peculiarity of reproductive labor is two things: it cannot be postponed until later and its result cannot be saved. (…) All this stuffing turns every day, it cannot be stopped, you cannot ask the children to wait to be hungry or do their homework someday (three years later). If you do not do it right now, they will suffer: either physically directly, or psychologically cumulatively."
That is why the advice to a woman “just don't do it” does not work, especially for mothers. Calls to “rest” are perceived with skepticism, and wishes to “teach children and husband” - with despondency, because in this case the woman turns out to be not only a performer and manager, but also a teacher. And okay, if for children, and if for a "boy" 30-40 years old, then what is there to talk about.
What to do?
I have a lot of discouragement on this topic. Despite the obvious progress in home appliances, the volume of reproductive labor is not decreasing. The restructuring in public discourse is proceeding slowly, and it may not be enough for our age.
What we can?
- Treat household work with respect. Both men and women.
- Do not devalue either the volume, or the costs, or the results (they are already fucking).
- Saying kind words to yourself and to another, sympathizing with fatigue, understanding and accepting anger when you just left, and again!
- Not wanting and not scolding for being "lazy".
- Put yourself in props. For example, relieve the mental burden using notes or programs on the phone (let them remember, not us). Refuse to remind someone of something, let them put themselves a reminder on the phone, a child at 6 is already capable of this. Give your partner a complete zone, let him plan and implement it there.
- Invent a priority system. What is the rank of a particular case on a scale from 0 to 10? “10” - we do it, because it's about life support. But if someone knocks us down by something by 2-3 points, we do not get lost, we say that we are busy, we promise to think about it later.
And, most importantly, try to get yourself some rest and pleasant impressions at least by little things. Your interests and favorite hobbies are not a whim, and not a hindrance to the household. This is the replenishment of the resource you need. A car without gas is just a bunch of parts
And may everyday infantilism be defeated!
PS for commentators
- The author does not agitate against men. The author is against everyday infantilism.
- The author knows that there are different women and men, and couples, where the roles are distributed exactly the opposite. The author is many years old, and there are 2-3 such examples in experience, not more. The mention of such cases is valuable, but does not change the overall picture.
- The author understands that there are women who are well suited to take on all the responsibilities of the house. But this does not change the situation in any way that there is a lot of reproductive labor, there is a lot of mental stress. The idea of treating it with respect fits here too.
- The author understands that children need to be taught to be included in the household. The author also understands the psychological and physical costs behind this for the mother.
PPS Here is a link to my post with a repost of Daria's text and drawings by a French artist.
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