Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Simplicity: the New Excess ... and men at home?

Since I can't seem to comment on my blog, I wanted to say hello to Lisa and Ted. Good to hear from you both.

I read a newspaper story about Atlanta socialites embracing simplicity as a "spiritual path" during this recession. They're wearing 10-year-old dresses and saving their money. Now, to me, in these times, such sudden frugality seems more sin than spirit. Now's a good time for those who have wealth to circulate it--thoughtfully--through the economy. This may mean a shift from the $5,000 handbag to supporting the local hurting charity or to installing some green technology into the mansion, but the rich, imho, need to do some spending. Do you agree?

I do hope our society of unsustainable excess does embrace simplicity as a result of this latest economic upheaval. I read somewhere that unemployment is hitting men harder than women, in part because contracting industries, such as construction, employ men more heavily than women. I wonder if, with fewer jobs, we'll got back to the one wage earner family? It seems, at least from stories in the newspaper, that a lot of families are keeping from disaster (as long as they bought their houses at the right time, didn't take out big home equity loans and didn't run up credit cards) because one spouse is still working. There's simply a lot less disposable income.

It's interesting to speculate what the world would look like if women become the primary breadwinners. How do you think men would contribute in that scenario? Do you think they would take over childcare and home-cooked meals? Or help the family economy in some other way, so the family could continue to go out for pizza?

3 comments:

Karen said...

"I wonder if, with fewer jobs, we'll got back to the one wage earner family?"

I come from a family in which the women have always worked outside the home - as farm hands, weavers and spinners, domestic servants, etc., in previous generations, and as teachers, secretaries, bank tellers, and nurses in my parents'.

It's only through the labour of others that middle class women could historically stay at home, and it really bothers me that so often the fact that the majority of women have always been breadwinners gets forgotten.

Diane said...

Karen,

So true, and in my family too, where my grandmothers were both cleaning ladies at different points in their lives. That thought did cross my mind, but I was thinking back to a particular time in history and a particular class of people. I was thinking the 1930s and late 1940s, first, during the Depression, when there were few jobs to go around and then after WWII, with the gripping fear of male unemployment driving the middle-class female return to the home. But you are so right. Minority and poor women, and in previous generations, farm women, worked very hard. And even in more so-called primitive societies, women often did the bulk of the day-to-day labor while the men hunted. Actually, going back to a primarily women-driven economy is probably normative.

Diane said...

And poor women and women on farms and many middle class women today also work very, very hard.