The Mother of All Strikes
These days between May day and Mothers’ day, it seems the perfect moment to suggest a little something for moms from the labor movement--a strike.
That’s right, I want mothers everywhere to walk off the job, excepting single moms who are essential workers.
For at least 24 hours, or as long as you can hold out, I want everyone to stop making breakfast-lunch-and-dinner and loading the dishwasher. Stop matchmaking socks without soul-mates. Stop combing tangles and playing lego.
Sex is okay—and more enjoyable when you are released from the bondage of housework (and when your hands don’t smell like rubber gloves).
However, there would be a work to rule provision – if the other domestic partner is absent, your childrens' needs should be addressed--as slowly as possible.
If you aren’t one of America’s double-shift mothers, you’ve probably seen the TV specials on the reality of many working moms: they wake up before dawn to make two meals, do day care drop offs, work, then come home to cook, clean and get ready for the next day. They can fall asleep just by sitting down.
If you are a double shift mother, you may have already fallen asleep.
What better way to show America the value of mothers than by taking them away. As Joni Mitchell said, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.
And they will miss us. This idea of withholding mothering has inspired a reality show in the UK and Canada called The Week The Women Went. The moms go on vacation, not strike; the seven days that follow involve clothes dried on stove elements, kids soaped and hosed down on trampolines and other domestic disasters. It’s in the second season.
Even when a TV crew is not watching men are helping it more. Still women are still doing most of the work at home. A 2007 study by the Labor Department, showed that on an average day just 20% of men did housework, compared to 52% of women and just 37% men did food prep or cleanup, compared to 64% of women.
That same accounting of daily lives showed that men enjoyed about 40 more minutes of leisure a day—it doesn’t sound like much, but seems like a long time when you’re cleaning up errant toys off the floor, and scrubbing pots while someone else gets to sit down.
Although men are not doing that much housework, it doesn’t mean they don’t think they are. A few months ago, the Families and Work Institute released a study showing that men do more childcare, cooking and household tasks than in 1992-2008. Or at least that’s what they report.
However, women don’t feel they are doing less than 16 years ago. The percentage of women who say they do ALL housework remained the same 73%. The percentage of women who say they did all the cooking went from 75% of full time cooks to 70%. Not such big leap forward in the women’s eyes. And this makes them cranky.
There is progress; That same Families and Work Institute’s study reported that mothers are teaching their sons to help: younger fathers share more equitably than Gen-xers.
The purpose of the strike is two-fold.
1. To encourage fathers to participate even more in the tasks of family life. This would be a good idea, if they want to get a nice fathers’ Day present and if they want more sex. Aphrodisiacs aren’t ingredients—it’s the cooking of any food, which turns women on.
It will improve marital satisfaction and cut down on divorce. Lots of research shows a link between division of chores and happiness in marriage. We know that women initiate divorce more often, and some scholars suggest that unequal division of household chores helps spark a split. Losing a husband lightens many women’s double shift.
2. To remind America that mothers keep good portion of the country fed, clothed, and taken care of—but still do not get paid time off to have a baby, nurse the baby, to take care of a sick child or to be sick themselves. Nor is there a good childcare system or laws that support flexible work options.
And we really haven’t asked for much.
So on Mother’s Day, enjoy your breakfast in bed and gush over your school-made crafts. But don’t lift a finger. Start the strike and show the entire country just how much we do. Maybe then we can renegotiate.