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Women's and Gender Studies
Anissa Talahite- Moodley

CHAPTER 19: Household Labour and the Routine Production of Gender − the everyday tasks of mothering are taken to be 'natural' expressions of femininity, and the routine care of home and children is seen to provide opportunities for women to express and reaffirm their gendered relation to men and to the world − the traditional tasks of fatherhood, in contrast, are limited to begetting, protecting, and providing for children − while fathers typically derive a gendered sense of self from these activities, their masculinity is even more dependent on not doing the things that mothers do Gender as an Accomplishment − 'doing gender' involves a complex of socially guided perceptual, interactional, and micropolitical activities that cast particular pursuits as expressions of masculine and feminine 'natures' − rather than viewing gender as a property of individuals, West and Zimmerman conceive of it as an emergent feature of social situations that results from and legitimates gender inequality The Sample − mothers were more likely than fathers to hold professional or technical jobs, although most were employed in female-dominated occupations with relatively limited upward mobility and moderate pay Practicality and Flexibility − both early- and later-sharing families identified practical considerations and flexibility as keys to equitable divisions of household labour − most did not have explicit records or schedules for childcare or housework − couples who did not begin sharing routine childcare until after infancy were even more likely to describe their division of labour as practical solutions to shortages of time − while mothers were more likely than fathers to report that talk was an important part of sharing household labour, most couple reported that they spend little time planning or arguing about who was going to do what around the house − in general, divisions of labour in sample families were described as flexible and changing Underlying Ideology − while ad hoc divisions of labour were described as being practical solutions to time shortages, there were two major ideological underpinnings to the sharing of housework and childcare: child-centredness and equity ideals − while those who attempted to share infant care tended to have more elaborate vocabularies for talking about these issues, later sharing couples also referred to them − for instance, all couples provided accounts that focused on the sanctity of childhood and most stressed the impossibility of mothers 'doing it all' − couples were child-centred in that they placed a high value on their children's well-being, defined parenting as an important and serious undertaking, and organized most of their non-employed hours around their children Managing versus Helping − helper husbands often waited to be told what to do, when to do it, and how it should be done − while they invariably expressed a desire to perform their 'fair share' of housekeeping and child-rearing, they were less likely than the other fathers to assume responsibility for anticipating and planning these activities − manager-help couples sometimes referred to the fathers' contributions as 'helping' the mother - responsibility for managing childcare, on the other hand, was more likely to be shared - planning and initiating ‘direct’ childcare, including supervision, discipline and play, was typically an equal enterprise - sharing responsibility for ‘indirect’ childcare, including clothing, cleaning and feeding, was less common, but was still shared in over half of the families - when they cooked, cleaned, or tended to the children, fathers in these families did not talk of ‘helping’ the mother; they spoke of fulfilling their responsibilities as equal partners and parents - in spite of reported effects to relinquish total control over managing home and children, mothers were more likely than fathers to report
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