Feb. 05 Home Fires .pdf

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Human Rights and Equity Studies
HREQ 1920
Elizabeth Brule

Feb. 05 Home Fires Readings: Scott Coltrane, “Household Labour and the Routine Production of Gender,” pp. 171-186 [Reader]; • P.171 • Motherhood is often perceived as the quintessence of womanhood • Everyday task of mothering are perceived as natural expressions of femininity • 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 • Traditional tasks of fatherhood are limited to begetting, protecting and providing for children • 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 • 20 dual earner couples talk about sharing housework and childcare • Investigate these parents construction of gender by examining their talk about negotiations over who does what around the house; how these divisions of labour influence their perceptions of self and other; and how they handle inconsistencies between their own views and those of the people around them • Gender is produced through everyday practices and how adults are socialized by routine activity • Gender as an accomplishment • Candace west and don zimmermin suggest that gender is a routine, methodical and recurring accomplishment • Doing gender involves a complex of socially guided perceptual, interactional and micropolitical activities that cast particular purists are expressions of masculine and feminine natures • West and Zimmerman conceive of it as an emergent feature of social situations that result from legitimates gender inequality • Housework and child care can become the occasion for producing commodities and a reaffirmation of ones gendered relation to the work and to the world • The shoulds of gender and fused with the musts of efficient household production • Result may be something resembling a gendered household production function • Doing gender serves to sustain and legitimate existing gender relations, inappropriate gender activity challenges legitimacy • P.172 • West and Zimmerman suggest when people fail to do gender appropriately, their individual characters, motives and predispositions are called into question • Doing gender is unavoidable and people are held accountable for its production The sample • • Couples who shared childcare • 20 moderate to middle income dual earner couples with children in suburban California • Observed families in home and interviewed each parent atleast once alone Parents in late thirties and mainly educated • • Childrens ages ranged from 4-14 • Developing shared parenting • Two thirds of the parents indicated that current division of labour were accomplished by making minor practical adjustments to what they perceived as an already fair equal division of labour • P.173 • Mother performed more of early infant care • Fathers stressed importance in conception decision • The husbands commitment to participate fully in childrearing was a precondition of the birth decision • By promising to assure partial responsibility for child rearing, most husbands influence their wives initial decision to have children, the subsequent decision to have another child and the decision of whether and when to return to the work force • About half of the fathers referred to the experience of being involved in the delivery and in early infant care as a necessary part of their assuming responsibility for later childcare • They described the time alone with the baby as especially helpful in building their sense of competence as a shared primary caretaker • Fathers have to learn about nurture and care for their children • Some shared equal responsibility during toddler years (middle of night, change, feed) • Even created logs and equal time management • Practicality and flexibility • Both early and later families identified practical considerations and flexibility as keys to equitable divisions of household labour • These divisions evolved naturally • P.175 • Couples who did not begin sharing routin childcare until after infancy were even more likely to describe their division of labour as practical solutions to shortages of time • Flexible arrangements as the only way bc of employment scheduling • Who has more time during the day does more work • Roles just form as people take on their own responsibility of household chores • In general, divisions of labour in sample families were described as flexible and changing • Routine adjustments in tasks allocated are some times satisfying • Underlying ideology • 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: childcentredness and equity ideals • Couples were childcentered in that they placed a high value on their childrens wellbeing, defined parenting as an important and serious underlying, and organized most of their non employed hours around their children • P.176 • Structure their lives around reluctance to have someone else raise their child • Many parents also advocated treating children as inexperienced equals or little people, rather than an inferior beings in need of authoritarian in training • Use consequences and bargaining before discipline • Almost all parents indicated that no one should be forced to perform a specific task because they were a man or woman This implicit equity ideal was evidenced by mothers and fathers using time availability, rather • than gender to assign more household tasks • Divisions of household labour • Mother still takes on more kin related chores and fathers have outside chores • Sample couples can thus be characterized as sharing an unusually high proportion of housework and childcare, but still partially conforming to a traditional division of household labour • managing versus helping • Household divisions of laboring these families also can be desired in term of who takes responsibility for planning and initiating various tasks • P.177-178 • Mothers noticed when chores need doing and made sure that someone adequately performed it • Mothers were more likely than fathers to act as managers for cooking, cleaning and child care, but over half of the couples shared responsibility in these areas • In all households he fathers were responsible for initiating and managing at least a few hours traditionally performed by mothers • Some share equally and some have manager - helper dynamics • Helper husbands often waited to be told what to do, when to do it and how it should be done • Some mothers found it difficult to share authority for household management • Like many mothers who maintained a marginal position in the household, they attribute an observed difference in domestic percepectiveness to an essential difference between men and women • By partially relinquishing managerial duties and accepting their husbands housecleaning standards, some mothers reported that they were able to do less daily housework and focus more on occasional, through cleaning or adding finishing touches • P.179 • The list making mother illustrates that responsibility for managing housework sometimes remained in the mothers domain, even if the father performed more of these actual tasks • Responsibility for childcare were more likely to be shared • Mothers greater embarrassment over the kemptness of home or children might reflect their sense of mothering as part of womens essential nature • Adult Socialization through Childrearing • Parents shared in creating and sustaining a worldview through the performance and evaluation of childrearing • Children are topic of main conversation Their spouse helped them to recognize unwanted patterns of interaction by focusing on • parenting practices • Father transformed by the parenting experience and developing increased sensitivity (usually in traditional to egalitarian) P.180 • • Mothers also reported their husbands beginning to notice subtle curse from the children as a result of being with them on a regular basis Incre
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