I teased my husband that he is "buying into the feminist agenda" if he insists I find another job after a hypothetical job layoff. It was not an easy sell, but I held my breath until my husband said I could do whatever makes me happy. In all seriousness, it's shocking to me that people are still debating whether women should stay home or pursue careers. A recent CNN Money article factored in both paid employment and unpaid housework to figure out whether men or women put in more hours throughout the world. Another recent report explored why 26 percent of American women don't have or want a job. In today's world, I have found there are many financial benefits to working part-time or not at all when there is one main high-wage earner in the family.
Outsourcing the housework
If I exited the workplace, I'd have more time to devote to housework. I actually like housework. Outsourcing housework by paying for house cleaning services and take-out food is expensive. Women do the majority of housework in all of the countries tracked by the CNN article on the division of chores. I found it interesting to note that the average Italian woman works 11 more hours than the average Italian man. In the United States, men work an average of 50.6 hours a week compared to women who work 50.9 hours a week so it's not that unbalanced. However, some critics don't like the fact that women have to "shoulder" the "burden" of more household work. American men work an average of 33 hours at a job and 17.6 hours on household tasks or so-called "women's work." Meanwhile women work an average of 23.8 hours at a job and devote 27.1 hours to housework.
Counting the cost of childcare
Women have always argued that they save money by staying at home with the children instead of farming them off to daycare centers. A recent CNN article pointed out child care is more expensive than college in many states. As a member of the "latch-key" generation, I grew up in a time when moms went off to work. I know a lot of women in their 30s and 40s don't want someone else to raise their children. As Gen-Xers grow older and become grandmothers, I think many of us will to be there to baby-sit and help out with any grandchildren. It's difficult to babysit your grandchildren from a job site.
I am offended when I hear experts say that housework, which includes raising children or grandchildren, is holding women back from developing their career paths and partaking in the sacred job market. Just because I like housework, doesn't make me a "traditionalist." If anything the feminist ideas about women and work have become the traditional norm. Maybe the new radical is to save money by actually taking care of my own children, cleaning my own house and growing my own produce. Even if my children were grown and out of the house, I'd see advantages of exiting the workforce. Maybe one day the idea of a childless or empty-nest housewife won't be too radical for some people to accept.
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