Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Women's Work?

I wanted to highlight what Hystery wrote on another blog:

I see how access to money and gender are so often linked. In natural disasters, women are more likely to die because they are more likely to stay behind or be slowed down in their attempts to save children, elders, and the disabled. Even today, women often find themselves in this caregiver role. Those women (and men) who are in this role become like Martha in the kitchen while Mary and the disciples spend time with Jesus.

Like Martha, she may feel separated from the spiritual work of the meeting by her own and other Friends' conscious and unconscious expectations of her role as a woman as caregiver, cleaner, cooker, and fusser over others' physical well-being. These issues become more complex when we add social class. A poor woman cannot afford to bring her loved ones with her nor can she afford to leave them at home. I see how access to money and gender are so often linked.

My personality is rather more of the "Mary" rather than the "Martha" variety so I noted the difference in how I was treated when I became a mother. I noted that my husband, although he is actually more willing than I am, was rarely expected to look after children or leave a discussion to engage in cleaning up or setting tables, or whatnot. Suddenly I was "Martha" and I didn't like it at all. I can recall my mother's reaction to that biblical story. "If Jesus and the disciples got up and helped Martha with the meal, then they all could have talked together!" lol

Friends could use a little CR.

I too often felt--especially when I had young children--that I was expected to fill the Martha role. I remember once being at meeting for business--held at night--where the babysitter did not show up. Of thirteen of us, two had children. Only one of the 11 who did not have children would help with childcare. While I knew that my children where nobody else's responsibility, I still can't get over that only one person would offer to help. As I have gotten older, I have continued to notice that women do take on more of the hospitality and nurturing roles in meetings I've been part of. I would especially like to see men take on more of the nurturing roles.


Bill Samuel said...

What is "CR"? Googling I find it can stand for many different things, but nothing seemed to fit Hystery's context.

Hystery said...

CR = consciousness raising. I was making a connection to consciousness raising groups or "CR groups" that were popular in the second wave of American feminism in the 1970s. I like the idea of groups of women getting together and comparing notes on their lives and realizing that problems they had previously considered peculiar to their own experience were actually shared concerns and part of systemic and entrenched systems. I should have just said "consciousness raising". That would have been clearer.

Hystery said...

and I should never say that something is both systemic and part of a system. How redundant. Brain pudding today.