How to bring back the economic component of the women’s sphere?

To a large extent, the retreat of women from their own discrete sphere is driven by the stripping of its economic components due to various technological factors.  The question for conservatives is how to seriously and meaningfully deal with this aspect of the traditional women’s sphere instead of declaring that it either doesn’t matter or is a solved problem since an individual woman can “work from home” for her family’s financial benefit in limited, specific, idiosyncratic instances.

It’s a tough nut to crack, not least because certain economic things women did that were compatible with the domestic sphere as they lost their traditional trades were themselves only viable options due to mass media that evolved from technological advances.  I’m speaking of the numerous housewives and stay-at-home daughters who wrote to support or supplement their families’ incomes, of course.  But the markets they sold into would not have existed without the very technological forces that led us to the atomized, isolated housewives of the latter 20th and now 21st century.  And it’s so hard to communicate the loss, and the sheer amount of income they were responsible for.

Anyway this is an open sticky post for suggestions and discussion.  Will probably update occasionally with relevant links or posts as I run into them.

Market salary for a housekeeper/cook/nanny is 35-50k/yr

This is just for the people who claim that a grown woman who really was raised with full domestic skills in those things, including household inventory management and orderly cleaning routines and a decent time spent in child caring has zero money-making skills and is completely doomed if her husband dies or leaves.  It’s not the stupid and unhelpful 200k/year of occasional news articles, but it’s the general range of what women get who do this for pay.  Being a housewife is economically fragile these days, but if you were brought up to do it, you probably can perform at a professional level if you have to make money.  And if you have credentials like a basic B.A., you can certainly command more.

Sharing the services of such women or hiring one outright is how quite a few homeschooling Christian SAHMs in my neck of the woods with no relatives nearby homeschool and keep the house from melting into a puddle of soda, pretzels and Cheeto dust.

A surprising example of women choosing money over status, childcare edition.

There is a strange local phenomenon where I live (whitopia) in which women working desk jobs are taking lower pay and fewer hours than those jobs paid and provided during the housing bubble and even through the crash, while women offering nanny or babysitting services are asking for higher wages and more hours, and getting them.

It’s strange in light of the class warfare astroturf around paying fast food workers $15/hr as a starting wage because it’s the women in those underpaid desk jobs who are happy with lower and lower wages and expectations of full time availability for 10-15 hours per week who are often the biggest fans of such rhetoric.  But they are currently not demanding better conditions for themselves.  It’s the nannies and the babysitters who are, I’ve heard the beefing from local women who are shocked at having to finally pay normal wages to get someone to watch your kids in your house when they thought an adult woman should be happy with 3-5 dollars an hour, if that.

It’s been very interesting seeing this split of working women where the ones doing “just childcare” are getting pretty good wages ($13-25/hr), modest benefits and full time hours if they want them while the women with office jobs are struggling to get $10-11/hr with no benefits and often barely 10 hours a week.  Obviously the latter are happy with the status of working in an office at all vs. having a real paycheck for changing diapers and playing with three year olds all day.  But especially given the way things often work in whitopia, it’s interesting to see a group of women actively negotiating for and receiving better wages on the open market without government intervention, and for work that is considered extremely low status in America.

Regulations on cottage industries are anti-woman, and especially anti-mother

Male dominated cottage industries almost never have their regulations enforced. Enforcement only comes down on female-dominated cottage industries, which are further dominated by mothers trying to earn extra money without having to spend all day outside the home.

Take a little time and think about if you can ever recall an article about shade-tree mechanics being aggressively targeted and pushed out of business.  One can’t even find much in the way of such mechanics being harassed by HOA boards either.

But hair braiding, homemade foods, in-house sewing, and other small-scale cottage activities are routinely regulated and prosecuted with a strictness that is astonishing not least because it has nothing to do with safety, health or even tax revenue.

It does have more than a little to do with women who don’t like being in their homes wanting to keep other women from doing so. It also has more than a little to do with denying women any opportunity to be economically productive at home in an explicit way.

This even extends to the massive grey and black market of women providing under-market wage childcare and daycare, where the regulatory environment and political pressure is all arranged to promote center-based daycare as the only childcare option.  Of course that is some posts by itself, definitely.

The housewife doesn’t have to be a consumption good.  We could have domestic economy in a post-industrial society.

5 reasons why it’s good (and traditional) for SAHMs to pay for housecleaning.

  1. Establishes a consistent and reliable baseline that suits your household.
  2. Helps train you, the SAHM, in the classic art of delegation. Delegating frees a SAHM up to do more complex organizational tasks and decorating to make the house more of a home.  Modelling specialization is healthy and a sign of civilization.
  3. Makes it easier to teach the children basics of housecleaning because you aren’t worn out from constant maintenance/fire-putting-out cleaning.  SAHMs who try to do it all have a much harder time raising children who have any experience with household chores.  The kids just get used to watching Mamma drudge through everything.
  4. Provides employment and builds community relations by keeping money in the community and by not being as strict an employer/employee setup, but something more casual and with the opportunity to build acquaintance and properly ordered mingling of social classes.
  5. Shows the children there are many ways to make a living that are respectable and decent paying and strikes a tiny but noticeable blow at the modern cult of the makework desk job as only “real” job.

The false choice between SAHM and Career Woman

If taken seriously, the housewife’s work is itself a “career” and should be accorded the necessary support as one would expect for any serious, decades-long work.  It’s further a false choice because having kids young can mean having an outside the home career in early middle age, as was an option among quite a few of the very women shoving their girls out of the home these days.

In older times, as well, the lower tiers of what is now thought of by Americans as upper-middle class or upper-class women often held ceremonial positions within royal households that were equivalent to careers even though they didn’t require working outside the household, because household management at all class tiers was taken much more seriously than is the case in the modern, supposedly classless American society.

This post further explores the idea that women working for money is not incompatible with a future life of housewifery.  This also goes back to traditional understandings of hierarchy and authority, and remembering that women are not supposed to submit to just any man anywhere because that is not itself a properly ordered understanding of the intersections of authority and hierarchy.

If your wife can’t stay home without generating income, she needs real work, not a blog or pyramid scheme

The title says it all.  Blame pregnancy brain for this placeholder of a post.  I shall return this one day when I’m a little less gum-brained, but I wanted to post a little at least about what I mean in the title.

To be blunt, if your wife has to make money while she’s at home or else you all have big financial problems and she can’t get a job outside the home for whatever reasons, then she needs to do something real for money.

Too many housewives who have to be economically viable beyond canning and couponing get caught up in the pursuit of professionalism in their work-at-home endeavors.  So they turn to monetized blogs and pyramid schemes because you “join networks” and “build inventory” and sometimes get to wear a business suit or go to a conference.  Such things are just traps, sucking money out of families that really need every dollar and further devaluing the actual work at home they could be doing for money.

Seamstress, egg lady, taking in other children, cooking for working parents, taking in hand washing: these are just a few of the real, normal, historical things housewives have done for money that can still be done even in isolated exurbs.  Mostly they don’t have corrosive and ongoing costs that are difficult to break out of and they scale up or down to individual families and the strengths of individual women.

There are other options beyond these, but the common theme is slightly more than what is done for one’s family, just enough excess to sell for a moderate profit.  Maybe not a “real job” where you sit at a desk and have meetings about synergy all day, but real work that is useful to one’s local community and one’s real bottom line.