Out of all the readings we have read over the past five weeks, the Women: Images and Realities anthology by Suzanne Kelly has definitely had the biggest impact on me. As its title implies, it was real and relatable, and honestly somewhat frightening.

In her piece, The Politics of Housework, Pat Mainardi describes her experience with her husband in regards to sharing the responsibility of housework. She begins by explaining how her husband first agreed with the idea of a shared responsibility, as “most men are too hip to turn you down flat.” However, as her husband began doing more and more chores around the house, he began to come up with more and more excuses to push the chores onto Mainardi. Excuses such as, “I don’t mind doing the housework, but I don’t do it very well” and “I don’t mind sharing the work, but you’ll have to show me how to do it” and “I hate it more than you, you don’t mind it so much” [1]. All excuses with a deeper meaning, a hidden message of, “You’re the woman and you should do the housework.” All excuses that rationalize the exploitation and oppression of women by saying that “women don’t mind doing it” or “women are better at it.”

It was difficult to accept that this is a picture of a very real interaction and frightening to think about its implications. It was frightening because although some people that are accustomed to privilege may give off the idea that they are willing to change, many still see the change as holding back themselves rather than helping to pull others up alongside them. Like Mainardi says, they may like to see themselves as being against the oppression of one human over another, but in adamantly avoiding the sacrifice of their privilege, they are the oppressors.

Another article that describes a situation that is not widely discussed is The Mommy Test by Barbara Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich depicts a women’s job interview, showing how difficult and uncomfortable the experience can be [2]. The process is a part of what Joan Acker describes as an inequality regime, or a set of interrelated practices, processes, actions, and meanings that result in and maintain class, gender, and racial inequalities within particular organizations [3]. Acker also explains that “images of appropriate gendered and racialized bodies influence perceptions and hiring.” This could not be more true in Ehrenreich’s depiction of a job interview, which outlines, sarcastically, how a woman must act in order to counter all of these gendered images and perceptions. By using a satirical tone, Ehrenreich emphasizes how absurd these preconceived notions are, and the extent to which women must present themselves in order to show they are either not true or completely insignificant. 

[1] Mainardi, Pat. The Politics of Housework. McGraw Hill, 1999.

[2] Ehrenreich, Barbara. The Mommy Test.

[3] Acker, Joan. Inequality Regimes: Gender, Class, and Race in Organizations. Sage Publications, 2006.