Links on Women, Work, and Divisions of Labor

Popup Last week, we had a couple of good discussions about the Pew study which found that 22 percent of wives now earn more than their husbands and about a new study on divisions of household labor and women scientists.

Lagging behind the witty conversation at Apt. 11D, the New York Times followed up. Sandra Tsing Loh griped about the demise of the Art of the Wife. They also had an article on the Pew study.

27 thoughts on “Links on Women, Work, and Divisions of Labor

  1. Well, given her avowed aversion to fidelity, STL is highly unlikely to find a male helpmate.
    Incidentally, although the politically correct are usually somewhat hostile to division of labor in the household, it actually requires and reflects the existence of a high degree of trust, such that, for example, my wife trusts me to handle the family finances and I trust her to plan the family vacations. It appears that STL is not operating in a high trust environment.

  2. I found most of STL’s article a continuing of a big whine. I really have no interest in hearing anyone whine that they need a wife, especial in allusion to the brief and odd period in the lives of women reflected in the fantasy 50’s housewife. And, really, when people whine about that, aren’t they really saying they want a Mom, someone to pick up after them, tell them how great they are, and organize their life for them? And if you want that, aren’t you really saying you want to be a child?
    But, I was intrigued by the fact that STL is now living with a man. I think she should have to tell us whether it’s the one from the previous article, the one with whom she broke up her marriage, or if she’s moved on to a new relationship. Normally, I’d say that was none of my business, but after having read (and even felt some pity and concern about her depression after the last breakup), I feel like I’m owed.

  3. You’d think if she were now living with the guy with whom she broke-up her marriage, she wouldn’t have had to live in her car for a period. Unless he was also booted and living in a car or they broke-up and got back together.

  4. Or unless he was married and his wife didn’t want her to move in. I thought the car thing was just an expression of the way she felt she was living, not the way she was actually living, really.

  5. She said she was living out of out of her car, not in her car I believe.
    She bought a house in South Pasadena recently and he moved in with her. (heard it on NPR)

  6. Moving from Van Nuys to South Pasadena. Interesting. I was just looking, and South Pasadena is 60% white and 27% Asian and has about twice the household income of Van Nuys. I’ll be interested in the spin on this, since she’s made a big song and dance of living in Van Nuys.

  7. There’s been ample popular and academic interest in the myth of the 1950s housewife. For God’s Sake, Mad Men is all about how crazy-making Tsing-Loh’s fantasy actually was. Where are the editors, to say, this is just STUPID writing? It shows no awareness of anything whatsoever beyond your self?

  8. This looks somewhat relevant and like it might be of interest to you, Laura:
    http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2010/01/professors-more-likely-to-be-married.html
    It’s interesting to me that male professors are significantly more likely to be married than both males in general and female professors, but that female professors are also significantly more likely to be married than women in general. (They are also more likely than male professors to be unmarried but living with a partner, though not by a huge percentage and I can’t tell how much of that might be same-sex couples.)

  9. ” It shows no awareness of anything whatsoever beyond your self”
    I thought this was a prerequisite for NYT op-eds, Style and Modern Love pieces. In this golden age for newspapers, surely self-regard is what readers value most.

  10. In Loh’s defense, I’ve read most of her stuff because it is interesting and well-written. I’ve pretty much stopped reading op-eds and I don’t even pick-up the Style section anymore.

  11. “I’ve pretty much stopped reading op-eds”
    Yes. I’m actually surprised how much play in the blogs people like Maureen Dowd and Brooks get.

  12. As much as I look down my nose at people who care about (or acknowledge the existence of) Jon & Kate or Brad & Angelina, I think I am in the same sort of relationship with STL — watching the death spiral in the literary sphere instead of on TV or People Magazine.
    It’s like an 18th Century epistolary novel, where the heroine is writing to her sister, “My duties as a maid have been compromised, as the master is currently attempting relations with me. As I write to you with my right hand, I am fending off his advances with my left. Oh, how I do hope my virtue will be protected so that I can return to stocking the pantry!”
    Bad things happen to her, and she writes about them, and then the writing about them leads to other bad things, rinse and repeat.

  13. “I think I am in the same sort of relationship with STL — watching the death spiral in the literary sphere instead of on TV or People Magazine.”
    The one thing that looks deadly to me is buying a house in Southern California as a fresh divorcee. I was just looking at trulia.com’s info on South Pasadena. Reading a chart, the median home was around $350k in 2000 and is around $700k today, with a three-bedroom home selling at around $815k. I bet the schools are good, though!

  14. Me too, Ragtime. I’m excusing myself that that’s ’cause she’s made herself the subject of her essays.
    That logic does make Jon & Kate different from Brad & Angelina, though. Reality shows do seem like a low-rent version of personal memoirs. But, Brad & Angelina are different, no? We might make their relationship their “work”, but it’s not. They are both actors, and in general, they’ve taken some pains to try to maintain their privacy (though not by going into hiding).
    I sometimes think that STL has interesting things to say, but I thought this particular article (“I need a wife”) was an incredibly tired old cliche. Yes, everyone would like to have someone else whose responsibility is to do everything that needs to be done in their life that they don’t want to do.

  15. Here I’m not even critiquing the content of STL’s life (which oddly seems to have shifted quite radically from the picture of her life which she sold in / used to sell her last published piece). I’m actually critiquing the content, which is a gigantic mess.
    Which is it, anyway? Does she fantasize about being the wife? And if so, how does she reconcile that with everything she’s recently written about HATING being the wife? And how does she reconcile her fantasy with the many culturally common “known facts” about the underbelly of that fantasy? And how does she go from the pseudo-Caitlin Flanagin fantasy of grateful wife of leisure at home to liberated (c. 1973) fantasy of her own wife?
    The essay sells ENTIRELY because STL has herself become the subject of the essay. But as a piece of writing, without her name on it? It never gets published in any venue at all. (Although I will absolutely grant that it has its best chance at the Times.)

  16. No kidding Jody — STL can take her place as this year’s Caitlin Flanagan. Train wreck!
    STL aside, it continues to amaze me how women making money is Big News. And it’s not just the money per se, it’s the fact that it’s MORE THAN THEIR HUSBANDS.
    I’m trying to imagine what other scenarios would get as much play:
    Children Making More Money Than Parents
    Older Sibling Catches Up With Younger Sibling’s Earnings
    Marketing Manager Discovers First-Year Finance Analyst Outearns Him

  17. “There’s been ample popular and academic interest in the myth of the 1950s housewife. For God’s Sake, Mad Men is all about how crazy-making Tsing-Loh’s fantasy actually was.”
    I’m just about to finish up reading Putnam’s Bowling Alone, and it occurs to me that his stuff points in the opposite direction, namely that midcentury was an extraordinarily healthy time for the US with regard to civic involvement, happiness, etc. Why that was is a very controversial question (and Putnam himself wrestles with it at great length), but I don’t think we are in a position to state that the midcentury family was necessarily more unhappy than the average US family of today.

  18. Does Putnam include minorities in his calculations, i.e. the still segregated south in the mid-century? the legally mandated redlining?

  19. “Does Putnam include minorities in his calculations, i.e. the still segregated south in the mid-century? the legally mandated redlining?”
    I don’t know. However, I expect that ethnic segregation and self-segregation increase community cohesion, mutual trust and support and happiness in general (which helps explain why to this day many new immigrants like to live in ethnic neighborhoods).

  20. The essay sells ENTIRELY because STL has herself become the subject of the essay.
    We also seem to care about Julie Powell’s second book, where she writes about having an affair after she wrote her first book.
    I’m assuming that after she sells the movie rights to her affair, she will be assassinating the Attorney General of Texas, so that she will have a topic for her third book.

  21. The information seems like it might be in the appendixes to the book (according to the website, which also lets you download the data, and a recent paper on diversity and its affect on social capital).
    Putnam’s argument is that diversity has a short/medium term effect on loss of social capital, but that there’s a predictable transition.
    And, my question was about the involuntary segregation of restrictive covenants on deeds and “whites only” restrictions, not voluntary segregation. One might argue, that in that circumstance, one group is happier, at the expense of the extreme unhappiness of a smaller group (i.e. a utilitarian happiness argument for society), as, perhaps Peter Singer might.

  22. bj,
    I believe minority happiness is also down, but a quick page-through is not yielding the chart I thought I remembered. Maybe later.

  23. But isn’t WOMEN’S happiness UP? I’m familiar with the Bowling-Alone book and debate, and I’m unconvinced that it deals adequately either with gender or with ethnic/racial minorities.
    The counter-argument, of course, is that women in “traditional” marriages now were found in one study to be happier than women in equality-focused marriages. ANOTHER well-publicized article/debate that Tsing-Loh did not reference in any way, even though it relates directly to her argument.
    I don’t care about using/exaggerating one’s personal life to make a living NEARLY so much as I care about editors who choose a Hot Name and then let that person publish anything, up to and including crap.
    Of course, Flanagan had her moment in the sun, then ran out of material/new angles and seems to have lost her ability to excite/anger the blogs. So one can reasonably predict the same thing happens to many/most naughts-inspired essayists who think that controversy beats content in the publishing world.

  24. ncidentally, although the politically correct are usually somewhat hostile to division of labor in the household, it actually requires and reflects the existence of a high degree of trust, such that, for example, my wife trusts me to handle the family finances and I trust her to plan the family vacations. It appears that STL is not operating in a high trust environment.
    You’re assuming that if a couple trust each other to hold their end up in a division of labour then that equals a 1950s style gender-essentialist division of labour. There is no reason why one should necessarily include the other.
    I would argue that the “traditional” gender based divisions reflected mistrust rather than trust – Men can’t care for babies, women can’t be trusted with jobs and finances, etc.

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