Tag Archives: working women

He Works Hard For The Money

It would appear that men are doing “women’s work.”  More men are cropping up in ‘pink collar’ jobs.  At first glance one could presume that traditionally ‘pink’ jobs (i.e., health care, home care, etc.) are a growing field and that is where the jobs are.  But a little more digging indicates that there is something larger afoot.

There was a time that the crassness of the business world or the filth of the industrial world was just too horrible for a women to endure.  If she were to work, it should be in jobs that weren’t too taxing to her delicate sensibilities (you know, like caring for people in the throws of debilitating disease.)  She should not have to dirty her hands in factories or investment banking, but instead stay unsullied wiping both ends of children.  Women had little choice but to flock to the pink ghetto, as that was often the only place hiring.  Monolithic institutions had distinct gender rules within.  In a high school, the principal would be a man, the nurse a woman, the lunch aide was female, the janitor male.  A few teachers would be male, after all someone needed to teach science and coach sport.  Hospitals were filled with men and women; in very specific roles: messy and personal was for women, highly technical or requiring heavy lifting went to men.

The bifurcation of our work world has had everything to do with sectors of work not being worthy of the special gifts and talents of men.  Is it that surprising that in the 21st century, men and women do not see their skills as tied to their gender?

For those bypassing higher education, the workplace landscape has changed.  Manufacturing jobs have slipped away and the service industry has grown.  This could explains the rise in male nursing and dental assistants.  But educated men are flocking to teaching.  They say they are more attracted to a satisfying profession (and clearly they define “satisfying” differently than their fathers and grandfathers did.)

How interesting these developments are.  Everything is cyclical, surely it is.  Every generation is convinced they are discovering the world anew or in touch with truths that eluded their parents.  No doubt there will be another swing in society soon.  However the reason that this particular development warrants notice is what it could mean for the work world.  For better or (and who are we kidding) WORSE, when men get involved voices are heard.  When a man does a job, it’s seen as being serious.  Consider funeral homes for a moment.  Is caring for and grooming of the dead somehow less delicate than caring for the small or infirmed?  Is arranging flowers and music, providing tissues and cooing over the bereaved a distinctly masculine trait?  Not in my experience.  Yet, the (traditionally male) profession is seen as not just respectable but admirable.

Male special skills and talents may not differ from those of women, but their power certainly does.  It’s absurd to pretend otherwise.  Having men in professions previously relegated to the pink ghetto will have a powerful ripple effect.

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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Cultural Critique


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Woman v. Woman

Can you hear it?  It’s bubbling up again.  There it is!  The woman wars.  Every so often (usually precisely timed to an election cycle) the media is abuzz with the ‘in the home versus outside the home’ battle.  There are so many flaws in this campaign it’s difficult to know where to start.  But I hardly see why that should slow me down.

  • There is no war – this is completely made up.  Nobody cares what you (or I) are doing with our lives.
  • If I’m wrong (and it’s been known to happen) and there are snips and snarks and snide remarks, they are being made by people who feel insecure about their own choices.  In other words, it is a very biased opining.
  • Semantics matter: “Working inside the home” means a person “works from home” – for money.  It doesn’t make anyone’s efforts less worthy to properly identify them.  Managing a household and perhaps children for no compensation is difficult and unrelenting labor and warrants its own term.  It is confusing to use euphemisms such as “working inside the home” simply because we’ve become allergic to terms such as housewife and haven’t come up with anything better.
  • Where a woman spends the majority of her time has little to do with how she votes.  Women can see the world as a larger place than what is directly in front of them.
  • When is it time for men to be pitted against each other in a fictional sophomoric war?

The whole point of feminism is freedom of choice.  Women should be free to choose the life that works for them at any given point.  Women should also be free from being a subcategory or manipulated to fulfill a stereotype.  Women are not a numerical minority, but historically have had limited access to opportunities.  Our country has a long history of creating fictional fracases within minority groups for the purpose of distraction.  Eventually people do catch on.

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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Cultural Critique


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