It's the night before I fly back to London, and I should be ... doing any number of things. Sleep comes to mind.
But I can't sleep right now, because I'm a little riled up. See, I've been following Crunchy's excellent discussion regarding Depletion and Abundance, and today's discussion topic delved into the subject of domestic work.
I haven't read Depletion and Abundance, so I don't mean this to be a critique of the book one way or the other. Instead I want to specifically talk about the feminist movement and whether or not it can be compatible with personal environmentalism.
Because, see, here's the thing. Unlike a lot of eco-bloggers, and unlike a lot of my readers, I hate all kinds of domestic work. And yes, this includes cooking.
Oh, I'll do it. I've cooked three course meals. I've made homemade butter and homemade jam. But frankly? If I had to cook for myself every day of the week, I'd shoot myself. My dream life involves having my own chef and maid and gardener. And maybe my own personal butler who would feed me hand-peeled grapes. Given this, I tend to resent it when it is suggested to me, that, oh! but cooking and canning your own food is so much fun! And so rewarding! And you should totally make all your own tomato sauce, because, AWESOME!!
Um, how about, instead, I don't. And I let you make your own tomato sauce because *you* enjoy it, and then I buy some off you instead, because, yes, I would prefer to spend more money on a jar of tomato sauce, than make my own. Yes I would.
The problem is, all this cooking and canning and pickling and storing, not to mention all the line-drying and non-toxic cleaning, and non-toxic child rearing, generally falls to the woman in the relationship. I know there are exceptions. But in most of the blogs I read, it's the woman who is doing the bulk of the domestic work. Sometimes, they continue to do the bulk of the domestic work even when they have a job that is just as demanding as their husband's.
Now, maybe the women who do this work do it because they enjoy it. And if so, then, more power to you, sister! I salute you. But I think a lot of women don't enjoy said domestic tasks. But, because we live in this Martha Stewart-obsessed culture, we are told that a) we are wrong for not enjoying scrubbing toilets or baking cookies and b) that we should just suck it up, and domesticate.
As a result, a lot of women live with a lot of guilt. Guilt that is compounded by every freaking eco-blogger touting do it yourself laundry detergent! and do it yourself soap! and do it yourself jam! and do it yourself ... you get the picture.
And at its core, we're not seriously addressing the gender inequities that result in one person doing all the canning and cooking and cleaning while the other gets to enjoy the perfectly canned fruits.
The truth is, we're never going to address gender imbalance when one set of people, largely women, are consistently being told "you should enjoy cooking and cleaning, and if you don't, you're not feminine." Or that if you don't enjoy making organic baby food from scratch you're not a good mom. Because the truth is, you can be a good woman, and you can be a good mom even if you would rather pay a service to wash your baby's organic cloth diapers. Or you would rather buy $8 jam from the farmers' market. Or you think that if the toilet only gets cleaned once a month ... well, no one will die.
So let's not claim to tell people what they will or will not enjoy, or how they should spend their time. Instead, let's try to get people to do what they actually *do* enjoy. For me, that might mean that I would rather get a paid job in the workforce than stay at home. And maybe that would mean that I would use my money to then pay someone who would rather stay home for their homemade jam. Because in the end, my paying someone else for homemade organic local jam benefits the environment, benefits feminism, and freaking benefits me. And all of you. Because all y'all don't want to be near me when I'm cranky. /End rant.
2 days ago