The Sisyphean Torture of Housework: Simone de Beauvoir and Inequitable Divisions of Domestic Work in Marriage

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... Women are being subordinated and exploited to undergo all the domestic work. It depicts the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance and extension over women in society pursuing domestic harmony (Veltman, 2004). The majority of the families believe that the harmony of a family depends on women's behavior. ...
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The COVID-19 outbreak has brought multiple profound effects on the economic sector worldwide. This study aims to determine the socio-economic impact caused by the COVID-19. Considering Indonesian lower-classes, this study used a quantitative method with a descriptive approach and collected 274 respondents. Data were obtained from questionnaire interviews with poor women in rural East Java. The data source was selected using a random sampling technique. Literature studies were carried out to collect data related to research. The results show that the pandemic in Indonesia has caused a tremendous impact on the socio-economic sector of society and women from the lower classes in rural areas. They suffer from huge losses ranging from reduced income to loss of work. This study also highlights the Work From Home (WFH) policy, which cannot be implemented on the lower classes because many of them are laid off, and some employees who continue to work are at risk of disease exposure. Likewise, the COVID-19 pandemic and Work From Home (WFH) policy evoke several problems for women. The household responsibility of women is proven to increase during the pandemic. The women who do WFH seem to be preoccupied in two roles, first, as a worker, second, as a housewife who assists the household. Specifically, it means women are required to do domestic and public work. Therefore, gender awareness is needed to minimize women’s disadvantages in this case.
... Someone needs to attend to the home, mundane subsistence needs, and needs of children (if there are any). 48 Women still do most of this work even when they also work outside the home (Veltman 2004). ...
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Unpaid household labor is still predominantly performed by women, despite dramatic increases in female labor force participation over the past 50 years. For this article, interviews with 76 highly skilled women who had returned to the workforce following the birth of children were analyzed to capture reflexive understandings of the balance of paid and unpaid work in households. Alongside a need to work for selfhood was a reflexive awareness of inequity in sharing household labor and dissatisfaction with the ways in which male partners contributed around the home. However, in parallel with this discourse of inequity was one of control, manifest in perceptions of male partners’ inability to competently complete household tasks. Although the discursive aspects of women’s understandings of inequality in the home can be understood as manifestations of reflexive modernization, participants’ general incapacity to effect everyday changes is better explained by the more fully socialized feminist reading of Bourdieu’s conception of embodied practice.
In the first half of this book I set out to prove (a) that Simone de Beauvoir made, and was therefore capable of making, her own distinctive contribution to existentialism; (b) that she began to do so in the early 1940s; (c) that her most distinctive and characteristic contribution to existentialism was to have developed an existentialist ethics; and (d) that this ethics has interesting affinities with some of the views expressed by Merleau-Ponty during the mid-1940s, and that it diverges from just about everything that Sartre said to a degree that I called oceanic.
Introduction. 1. The Education of a Philosopher. 2. Writing for her Life. 3. Literature and Philosophy. 4. Narrative Selves. 5. Embodiment and Intersubjectivity. 6. The Ethics of Liberation. 7. Applied Ethics I: The Second Sex. 8. Applied Ethics II: Les Belles Images, The Woman Destroyed, and Old Age. Notes. Glossary. The Works of Simone de Beauvoir. Index.
Joan Williams' Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict And What To Do About It (Oxford, 1999) is a "theoretically sophisticated and thoroughly accessible treatise" that offers a new vision of work, family, and gender. (Publisher's Weekly, Nov. 1, 1999) It examines our system of providing for children's care by placing their caregivers at the margins of economic life. This system that stems from the way we define our work ideals, notably from our definition of the ideal worker as one who takes no time off for childbearing or childrearing and who works full-time and is available for overtime. The ideal-worker norm clashes with our sense that children should be cared for by parents. The result is a system that is bad for men, worse for women, and disastrous for children. Williams documents that mothers remain economically marginalized, and points out that when mothers first marginalize and then divorce, their children often accompany them into poverty. Williams argues that designing workplaces around the bodies of men (who need no time off for childbearing) and men's life patterns (for women still do 80% of the child care) often constitutes discrimination against women. She also engages the work/family literature to show that "flexible" workplaces are often better than existing practices for employers' bottom line. On the family side, she argues that the ideal worker's wage -- after as well as before divorce -- reflects the joint work of the ideal worker and the primary caregiver of his children, and should be jointly owned. In a comprehensive examination of the theoretical issues surrounding work/family issues, she uses the work of Judith Butler and Pierre Bourdieu to explain why gender has proved so unchanging and unbending, reframing the special treatment/equal treatment debate, the debate over "women's voice," and offering new perspective on how to avoid the persistent race and class conflicts that emerge in debates over work and family issues.
Using data from the two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households, I analyze the impact of transitions in marital status on changes in men's time spent in housework. The transitions occur among five marital statuses: never married, cohabiting, married, separated, and widowed. I find that men reduce the time they spend in routine housework when they form couple households and increase it when they leave couple households. In contrast, women increase the time they spend doing housework when they enter coresidential unions and reduce it when they exit. This finding suggests that, with respect to housework time at least, the formation of households with adult partners of the opposite gender remains more to men's advantage than to women's.
Time-diary data from representative samples of American adults show that the number of overall hours of domestic labor (excluding child care and shopping) has continued to decline steadily and predictably since 1965. This finding is mainly due to dramatic declines among women (both in and out of the paid labor market), who have cut their housework hours almost in half since the 1960s: about half of women's 12-hour-per-week decline can be accounted for by compositional shifts—such as increased labor force participation, later marriage, and fewer children. In contrast, men's housework time has almost doubled during this period (to the point where men were responsible for a third of housework in the 1990s), and only about 15% of their five-hour-per-week increase can be attributed to compositional factors. Parallel results on gender differences in housework were obtained from the National Survey of Families and Households estimate data, even though these produce figures 50% higher than diary data. Regression results examining factors related to wives' and husbands' housework hours show more support for the time-availability and relative-resource models of household production than for the gender perspective, although there is some support for the latter perspective as well.
This investigation places recent research about changes in wives' and husbands' domestic labor in the context of well-known reporting differences between different kinds of housework surveys. An analysis of the “reporting gap” between direct-question reports of housework hours from the National Survey of Families and Households (1988) and time-diary reports from Americans' Use of Time, 1985, shows that both husbands and wives overreport their housework contributions. Furthermore, gender attitudes, total housework, class, education, income, family size, and employment status together significantly affect the overreport, although the variables operate in different ways for wives and husbands. It is concluded that changing and uneven social perceptions of the appropriate domestic roles of women and men have resulted in reporting biases that do not necessarily correspond to actual changes in housework behavior. These findings cast doubt on claims that contemporary husbands are doing more housework than their predecessors.
In this article, a comparison is made between the time that cohabiting and married women and men spend doing housework, to determine whether there are differences between them and to isolate the sources of those differences. Differences in cohabiting and married women's and men's household labor time are interpreted in light of the way that marital status may affect how gender is accomplished. Using the National Survey of Families and Households, the authors found that marital status affects women's household labor time but not men's; married women spend significantly more time on housework than do cohabiting women. In addition, the gap between cohabiting and married women's housework time cannot be accounted for by sociodemographic differences between them. It was also found that cohabiting women are more like single, noncohabiting women than they are like married women. That is, the research demonstrates the uniqueness of married women. It is not simply the presence of a man that is associated with women's spending more time on housework; it is the presence of a husband.
This new edition of Genevieve Lloyd's classic study of the maleness of reason in philosophy contains a new introduction and bibliographical essay assessing the book's place in the explosion of writing and gender since 1984.
"Marital Equality" is intended for academics, researchers, and students in the fields of close relationships, social psychology, interpersonal communication, family studies, and sociology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This paper may be read as a reclamation project. It argues, with Simone de Beauvoir, that patriarchal marriage is both a perversion of the meaning of the couple and an institution in transition. Parting from those who have given up on marriage, I identify marriage as existing at the intersection of the ethical and the political and argue that whether or not one chooses marriage, feminists ought not abandon marriage as an institution.
The ethics of ambiguity
  • Simone Beauvoir
  • De
Simone de Beauvoir on women
  • Jean Leighton
  • N J Rutherford
Wifework: What marriage really means for women
  • Susan Maushart
The philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir: Gendered phenomenologies, erotic generosities
  • Debra Bergoffen
Beauvoir and The second sex: Feminism, race, and the origins of existentialism
  • Margaret Simons
Female refuseniks withdraw from gender war: The opportunity costs of being a mother are too high for many modern women. The Independent
  • Sue Slipman