Housework as Hobby

Shorter Rena Corey:

I have a quaint, artisanal interest in housekeeping. I suspect this is no longer a good way to maintain social status as a woman, so I will defend it by essentializing gender differences and calling it “a vocation.”

You know, some people like cleaning bathtubs. Some people like carving duck decoys. These are fine hobbies, and can even make a fine vocation , if you like it that much. But the idea that there is something ineradicably feminine in folding towels is on a level with the idea that there is something ineradicably masculine about pipe-smoking and good-natured sexual harassment. She could just leave it with “I like it, and my spouse is sporting enough to subsidize my hobby.” But she's pushing it when she wants us to buy that she's got some kind of “real job.” If Corey's husband decides to opt out of the labor market in favor of full-time gardening and home improvement, I think we'd call that “early retirement.”

20 Replies to “Housework as Hobby”

  1. My take on this is that libertarians are “socially liberal, economically conservative.” We jumped in bed with the Republicans because they said they were economically conservative. Now that it’s obvious they are not, we jump to the Democrats. And if you want the socially liberal part of our philosophy, it might work. But forget about economics. The Democratic party ideals are all wrapped up with “fairness” and “equality” — equal outcomes, not equal opportunity. There’s nothing Libertarian about that.

  2. If regulation is indeed the sticking point, we might be able to bridge the divide by requiring Public Choice Theory to be taught in Junior High civics courses.

  3. Speaking as one of the 19% of liberal readers…
    The reason for our basic distrust of deregulation/ opposition to new regulation is that it is so often, particularly on the federal level, driven by the industries that are or would be regulated. Now obviously said industries have good reason to state their case but when we see that the effort to prevent regulation of industry x is funded entirely by industry x we see corporations acting based of profit motive and not the interests of the poor/consumers etc. Even if the arguments against regulation are good we have trouble believing the people making them have the same goals we do because they’re paid by people who don’t (which isn’t to say corporations are evil, just not primarily concerned with the poor).
    The other thing is (and this is no ones fault) when public arguments are made against regulation liberals aren’t usually the targets- low information middle class moderates are which leads to regulation opponents making their arguments not about helping the poor but about the government trying to take over Regular Joe’s life. So not only does your funding not come from people we trust but often the arguments your making look to us like manipulating people with fear… which is probably still your best bet for preventing regulation in the short term. But in the long term it doesn’t get liberals on your side.

  4. Surely the biggest difference is that liberals are now explicitly paternalistic.
    Ask a roomful of liberals and conservatives how they feel about smoking bans, transfats, and all of the other nanny state nonsense – I am sure that you’d get far more conservatives defending individual autonomy.

    1. smoking bans, transfats
      Um, Craig, reality check: here in NYC all that “nanny state nonsense” was pushed by um, the then-Republican, Bloomberg.
      I find most liberals are too busy telling me that FGM can’t be judged because it’s an issue of multiculturalism and oh no they wouldn’t ever judge; it’s conservatives who are making me infantile, telling me how I have to live my life and how I can’t get birth control inexpensively over-the-counter because they have religious beliefs.

  5. “I don’t think you argue your way out of an impasse of contingent historical suspicion. I think you socialize your way out of it.”
    WTF? Do you want to try that one again, this time in English.

      1. Yup.
        But I still think modern liberals are too paternalistic, too willing to regulate the individual for his or her own good (even when equality is not at issue) to make reliable allies.
        Or, to put it a different way, anyone who wants to tell me how much transfat I can ingest, or where I can smoke, is not a friend of liberty.
        Thanks for a most interesting debate, though.

  6. In the interest of such socializing, can you list a handful of regulations on which you think the the regulation is good and the liberals got it right? No nickel-dime or “deregulating” regulations please.

  7. Socializing may help understanding so as too prevent demonizing others over disagreements on principles, but then that would apply to socializing with individuals on the left or right — however, in the interest of integrity, the differences in principles trump any harmony generated by socializing. Any regulations which protect the rights of life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, I’m in agreement with — any regulation which violates these rights, I disagree with on principle – even if in the company of the individual with whom I disagree I enjoy a good glass of wine and a discussion whether John Ashbery is a great poet or word-clown perpetrating a literary hoax.

  8. The problem is intractable when it reflects a deep enculturated distrust between classical liberals and contemporary liberals. The latter suspect that even moderate libertarian types reject the legitimacy of regulation altogether, and so are just being coy when pointing out the costs of regulation. Libertarians aren’t really interested in regulatory efficiency. They just hate regulation, period.
    Well, yes.
    I’ve read too many libertarian screeds about abolishing the Federal Reserve, “taxation is theft,” getting rid of OSHA, the evils of environmental rules, and even zoning, repealing civil rights laws, etc. to believe otherwise.
    The fact is libertarians generally come across as fanatic ideologues – the kind of people you edge away from at a party so as not to hear about how fractional reserve banking is the source of all our troubles, and how wonderful things are in Somalia.

  9. A more fundamental rift between liberals and libertarians is that liberals believe that society and economic activity needs to be planned by a central authority. This is why they are almost always in favor of new regulations – a regulation is a plan, an attempt to control what they see as out-of-control forces. No matter how good an economy is, it can always be made better by the smart people at the top, so long as they are given the power to change things.
    Libertarians, on the other hand, are okay with the notion that a modern society is an exercise in spontaneous order, and that optimal solutions are often reached if you simply let society or the economy work out the problem and adapt. Most libertarians accept that society has to work within a framework of social order and civil society, and that government has a place in maintaining the conditions which allows markets to work and people to be free to choose without coercion. This separates them from anarchists.
    Conservatives get along with libertarians because they share the same fundamental beliefs when it comes to the economy, only they tend to personify it by saying that the family and local community are the drivers of social order, and they seek to protect them. Both Conservatives and libertarians have an inherent distrust of central planning, and this overrides their differences on social policy enough to allow them to work together.
    Where conservatives and libertarians differ is that conservatives think the central government should be the protector of established social norms and morality, and libertarians do not. But compared to their agreement that central planning of the economy is bad, this is a much smaller area of disagreement.
    I do not see how libertarians and liberals can work together so long as liberals seek to continually increase the state’s power to plan society and control the market. This is a very deep, very fundamental difference in philosophy.

  10. The latter suspect that even moderate libertarian types reject the legitimacy of regulation altogether, and so are just being coy when pointing out the costs of regulation. Libertarians aren’t really interested in regulatory efficiency. They just hate regulation, period.The other thing is (and this is no ones fault) thrift savings plan when public arguments are made against regulation liberals aren’t usually the targets- low information middle class moderates are which leads to regulation opponents making their arguments not about helping the poor but about the government trying to take over Regular Joe’s life. So not only does your funding not come from people we trust but often the arguments your making look to us like manipulating people with fear

  11. Conservatives may be against big government in theory, but rarely are in practice; they tend to be more interested in regulating expression because of concerns about vulgarity, for instance.

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