Today is national "Take Your Child to Work Day". This calls into question what we consider valid labour. There are many women across North America who stay at home and take care of their families as their job. In most cases this does not constitute a profession or even legitimate labour because it does not produce a salary.
Sandra Thompson, a stay at home mother to three children had the bright idea to have her children stay home with her so that they could see exactly what she did. According to waaytv.com,when she approached her childs teacher she was told, that her job was not considered a professional job. This attitude was supported by the Superintendent of Madison County Schools, Dr. Terry Davis. While he stated that he respected what she did,he feared that children who stayed at home with their mothers would end up watching television or not participating in any activity all day.
Yep, cause of course stay at home moms aren’t busy running errands all day, cooking, cleaning, ironing, budgeting and just generally make sure that the family has everything that it needs to get through a day in the public sphere. The ease at which he diminished what this women does belies his so-called stance of respect. In his mind, clearly work must be legitimated by pay to be considered valuable labour.
The idea that a stay at home mother would have nothing to teach her child is ridiculous. If a child does not learn to cook, how will they feed themselves when they reach adulthood? How about cleaning…should a child not learn how to keep their environment clean? Everything this woman does each and every single day is an essential life service.
That we continually devalue the work of women is a function of capitalism and patriarchy. This is a large part of why women globally are the earths poorest citizens. The work that we do is constructed as either natural to our gender or part of our desire to nurture those we love, while no such caretaking roles are readily assigned to me. Consider that when a man is in charge of his children it is often referred to as babysitting thus inferring he is doing work that is beneath him i.e., womens work.
Dr. Terry Davis, clearly feels that women only contribute value to the family when they are adding to the family purse. It is this very attitude that forces women into the double day. Women continue to face pressure to not only succeed professionally but maintain the perfect house and garden type home at all times. As women in their 40’s quickly reach burnout from the the high social standard that is imposed, little to no relief is offered to help us negotiate the different social roles that we are forced to play. When a woman chooses to focus on her children over her career, or a career over family she is vilified. This is a no win situation which we daily affirm to keep women performing well beyond the measure of endurance.
Dr. Terry Davis did indeed teach these children a lesson; that womens work does not matter and therefore should not be counted as labour. Her children will have learned that no matter how well they perform without the sanction of patriarchy women will always be second class citizens.