In 2019, a soap dispenser tweet from Robin Beth Schaer went viral: “My friend and her husband lived in an apartment with a soap dispenser on the kitchen sink’s edge. When she left after two years, he exclaimed to her: “It’s incredible how much soap the dispenser never ran out of during all this time.” Women’s labor is practically unnoticeable. She never told him the truth. He still fondly remembers that wonderful soap dispenser they had once.
Many women responded to the tweet, describing what’s been dubbed “the second shift,” “emotional labor,” or “the mental load.” It’s the sense of annoyance that many women experience while maintaining a checklist mentality about children and housekeeping. A documentary based on the best-seller book “Fair Play: A Woman’s Guide to Ending the World’s Most Intractable Gender Gap” by Eve Rodsky, a Harvard-educated lawyer, explores the gender gap in household chores. “An age-old problem: women shouldering 2/3 or more of the unpaid domestic work and childcare for their homes and families,” she says. “I’m working to change society one partnership at a time by coming up with a new 21st-century solution to an age-old problem: women shouldering 2.
At the start of the film, Rodsky asks each couple about their division of labor, and no two couples disagree on how much work the husbands do. Many moms and dads have reported doing up to 70 percent of their child care. The ladies are all pleasant, but there’s a bite to their remarks every now and then. “It doesn’t matter how much you ate the food,” one says.
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If they describe what they do as “help,” it implies that they consider it a generous transient impulse rather than a necessary continuing duty. If you’re asked to bring milk, for example, those who think their contribution is picking up milk at the store should understand that the most time-consuming aspect of the work is always being aware of when milk is required, as well as bread, cereal, cheese, fruit, peanut butter, signed permission slips, dry cleaning, allergy shots, and. “Traditional” culture in his office meant that when his wife had a baby on a Friday night, he was back at the desk early Monday morning, according to one husband. He later adds that since most of the males in the company are divorced, it’s part of their culture.
When Rodsky and nine other women were scheduled to have lunch after a breast cancer walk, she understood the problem. The parents of these children were all in dual-career marriages and their husbands were at home with the kids. In just 30 minutes, the women received 30 calls and 46 texts, many of which inquired about things like “Where is the birthday present?” and “Do the youngsters need to have lunch?” The women departed for home so that they might.Rodsky employs his systems analysis expertise to document the distinctions with a massive spreadsheet. The film offers evidence for her judgments, along with comments from a number of experts, including Melinda Gates. We also meet individuals attempting to achieve more balance, such as Rodsky, her husband, and two couples she is advising. Katie Porter, a California state legislator, spoke about her life as a single mother to illustrate how US legislation on parental leave, childcare, and the minimum wage perpetuates “family-hostility.” She aggressively calls out her colleagues, the older white male legislators, for assuming their own experiences are typical. Same-sex couples, with less gender pressure to bear, readily offer a route map for dealing with domestic obligations.
There is some racial variety, but not much in terms of class or economic status. Immigrant agricultural laborers are the only family that isn’t financially secure. It takes a village to raise a family. It’s no wonder that families have difficulty coping with the increasing workloads, time constraints, and economic strains of their day-to-day lives. This is where the term “village” gets its power: It allows us to take stock of our communities in light of what they’ve been through.
It’s not clear who this film is intended to appeal to. Women do not need convincing that there is frequently a difference in the emotional burden of domestic responsibility and children’s care. If it’s for men that you’re trying to persuade, the discussion about how male physical and mental health (and more sex!) improves when they create a more genuine relationship at home should have started with it. If the aim is to make a “An Inconvenient Truth”-style argument for public policy debates, it’s doubtful that couples communicating better ten minutes a day will help you discover a more equal ownership of issues (like when we need milk). Additionally, it overlooks the usual argument that when a partner gives up some of his or her power, he or she frequently finds it difficult to cease giving orders.
The intentions of the film are admirable, but the film’s collection of specialists and statistics is more lecture than entertainment. There is an overemphasis on families of affluent or better means, and a lack of attention paid to the consequences these issues have on the rest of the family. Children need positive examples of constructive cooperation, negotiation, and compromise. We all agree that our children should be happy. The greatest method to help them accomplish it is to offer an example for parents who are joyful.
Tabitha LeeMichael Nico FontenotBrandy Specks