All of which goes to show that it is not really possible to disengage domestic work from its social, gendered context: the work is valuable if the woman is valuable, and what determines her value is whether a man has found her so and how much money he has.
That is why discussions of domestic labor and its worth are inextricably bound up with ideas about class, race, respectability, morality and above all womanhood. You can talk all you want about equal parenting; nobody is raising his son from earliest childhood to see as the most important job in the world being a stay-home father dependent on a high-earning wife. Nobody says to men in college, “You can be a physicist, or you can be a homemaker—it’s your choice!” Sure, there are fathers who stay home with kids—about 150,000 of them, compared with 5 million stay-home mothers—but not as some socially hallowed mission. Society gives men all the parental kudos they need for showing up at the school play, making pancakes on Sunday and exuding some kind of vaguely benevolent authority.
Do you think Mitt lay awake at night wondering if he was a bad person for slaving away at Bain Capital and making Ann change the stinkier diapers? If he was a woman, he’d never have gotten a good night’s rest.”
— Katha Pollitt’s excellent piece on the brouhaha over Rosen’s remarks. (via The Nation)