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.”

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center