Please note the seventh part of an essay at POLITICS .
The Tea Turned Cold in the Cup,
or, Why Women’s Work is No Work
There are many impressive novels about humble women’s lives in former times, written both at the time and since, written by both women and men. Thomas Hardy’s Tess, a farmhand, toils in the field as if in a chain gang; Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, a seamstress, languishes at the workshop into the night; Claire Etcherellli’s Elise, a factory worker, rushes and sweats at the conveyor belt.
They all get exploited; they all get exhausted. Yet none of these women seems to wash any sheets by hand on top of that; none of them is seen heaving pots of stew around; none of them does as much as sweeping the floor of her dwelling. When a girl has a baby, someone has to care for it, but no one seems to boil and mash food or soak and scrub linen for it. It all gets done by itself.
It all gets done magically. It all gets done in the wings. The never-ending chores are performed by invisible girls and women; by hands which get worn over the years without ever receiving a penny in return; by hands presumably too busy to drink the cup of tea turning cold in the cup.