Real Talk for SAHMs, Women’s Work edition

Contrary to popular belief even among SAHMs, women have have historically done more than bear children and provide infant and elderly care.  They also produced economically valuable goods (in addition to the children, I mean).  For thousands of years, women literally made the money. Cloth was as precious as gold and used as currency.  Even through the Industrial Revolution and the Pax Americana of the middle 20th century, women were still producing household goods as SAHMs, typically things like towels or bed linens.  Women also produced a lot of food and drink.  It was both the nuns and the monks who brewed, after all.

Female labor was economically productive for nearly the entirety of human history as a norm.  Not an exception, but the norm.  This is hard to understand in a world where people believe only alienated labor exists and that unalienated labor is a mythical construction.  The key difference between economically valuable male labor and economically valuable female labor is that the female labor has generally contained substantial unalienated components.  Someone more versed in Marx than myself might suppose that female labor cannot help but contain unalienated aspects.

The travail and despair of the modern SAHM is not so much that the alienated (economically productive) aspect of her labor has nearly disappeared, it is rather that nobody (not even her) is able to understand that unalienated labor is still labor, quite precious labor specifically because of its, let us say intimacy.

In a different economic system, one I cheerfully support (techno-distributism), the interwoven strands of alienation and unalienation could link back together in women’s work and they could be part of economic production again.  In a less mean version of the current system, the fact that female labor is currently almost 100% unalienated would not stop people from devaluing said labor.  The work of the SAHM would have value to her own family and local community even if it never brought in a penny of its own accord.

Though, one must ask, what is the value of making it possible for a man to earn higher and higher wages?  Surely it is a number larger than zero.  It is worth noting that no matter how small, primarily male industries like IT and construction have (nearly always female) secretaries.  Specialization has its own value in creating and maintaining the economic surpluses of civilization and dismissing the work of the modern SAHM because she doesn’t have to beat clothes against a rock is a perilous and ignorant thing to do.

The labor of the modern SAHM is shifted, not “saved”.  Her workload is moved around to different places than before labor-shifting machinery came along, but it’s not gone.  The cruel and petty meme that modern SAHMs don’t really have enough to keep them busy is simultaneously cruel and historically ridiculous.  The feminists, in blind squirrel fashion, are correct to note that women have been considered not busy enough for millennia.  It is nothing new as a criticism or snipe.  It’s just a way to get out of acknowledging that male and female labor are complements.

Nothing is gained by minimizing the importance of women’s work, or its potential economic, social and psychological benefits to marriages, families and communities.  Much, however, is lost, making the world of cake parties at the job and social life solely found at work outside the home look wonderful compared to being told what you do is nothing much and worth even less by even your fellow SAHMs.  That way lies madness and a lot of women running away from the hearth, home and hestia.  This is, in fact, the current situation.

Further, the isolation and dismissal make it even more difficult for modern SAHMs to be able to restore the hestia sufficiently and consistently enough to let men maximize their own production.  Yes, misogyny is economically depressive.  Female subjection is less economically productive than female submission.

Women’s work is not superior or inferior to men’s work, it is simply different work.  But it is not some pitiful rag end tacked on to the “real work” of teh menz either.  The fullness of God’s creation is reflected in respecting and understanding that women’s work is important, has been important and can regain its old importance and status if only people desire to follow God’s will and not give in to envy, jealousy, bitterness and despite.  

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