The Tea Turned Cold – VII

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

VII.

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.

Read more here.

Woman with apron filling plates with roast and many different vegetables.Woman worker “during her “time off”:
“not working”  while cooking
&”not working” while writing.
Photograph: Christina Egan © 2015.

Advertisements

The Tea Turned Cold – VI

Please note the sixth part of an essay at POLITICS .

The Tea Turned Cold in the Cup,

or, Why Women’s Work is No Work

VI.

We squeeze ourselves against the walls rather than driving the elephant out of the room. We keep patching broken china together or replacing it rather than acknowledging the existence of the elephant.

This is the early 21st century, and women all over the world, including all Western countries, are de facto second-class citizens. Most women – with or without children – live in servitude through domestic labour, while declaring themselves free from all shackles. Most women – whether poor or rich – are left behind men from childhood onwards, while deluding themselves that they possess equal opportunities.

Why is a housewife officially a housewife and stays so all her life, while an unemployed nurse is a nurse, a retired cleaner is a cleaner, and a sick teacher a teacher? Does the nurse not give her child dinner any more? Does the cleaner not clean her own home any more? Does the teacher not change her bed any more? Have they not all been homemakers besides their paid employment? Why is this simple fact denied? Why are homemakers derided, and any homemaking also?

Read more here.

Yellow teapot, full teacup, and jar of tea, in front of lettuce and herbs in little pots.Homemade herbal tea from the garden.
Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016.

The Tea Turned Cold – V

Please note the fifth part of an essay at POLITICS .

The Tea Turned Cold in the Cup,

or, Why Women’s Work is No Work

V.

When we read that many millions of young children in developing countries have to toil for their living, we are outraged; and when we learn that teenage boys often continue in forced labour while girls are usually forced into marriage, our outrage increases. However, we officially stop counting the child brides as child workers – because they ‘only’ do chores in their ‘own’ homes.

This policy of the International Labour Organization has been branded ‘insulting’ and ‘nonsensical’ by campaigner Stephen Lewis. We have learned to identify child marriage as child abuse; yet we have failed to identify domestic chores as child labour.

When we hear that in many regions of the world, girls must walk for hours to fetch water or firewood, so that they arrive at school late or exhausted, we do not fool ourselves for a moment about their ‘equal opportunities’, even where those are granted by law or where schooling is free.

Read more here.

Plate with shredded cabbage and carrots across slices of meat and a little tower of firm mashed potatoes.A towering achievement:
Sauerkraut with pork and mashed potatoes.
Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016.

The Green Dress / Im grasgrünen Kleid

The Green Dress

This green, this green! The purest of greens,
the softest of silk, the smoothest of greens!
It’s mellow and creamy –
and glossy and hard –
it’s distant and dreamy –
and sudden and sharp –
It’s got all the earth in it, fields in full plume,
the glow of the sun and the snow of the moon!
There’s birch in it, ivy –
there’s lemon and lime –
and oceans and icebergs –
and olives and pine –
And the lady beneath the shimmering screen
bears the soul of the earth in the secret of green!
In the gold of her hair
and the blue of her eyes,
in the lines of her limbs
and the flow of her voice
there’s the glow of the sun and the snow of the moon:
a creature of night and a creature of noon.

Christina Egan © 2009


Im grasgrünen Kleid

Ich stehe am Fenster und schaue hinaus,
und niemand bemerkt mein bescheidenes Haus,
und niemand bemerkt mein grasgrünes Kleid,
und niemand bedauert mein aschgraues Leid.

Die Dämmerung wogt, und es rauscht der Verkehr.
Ich stehe und schaue. Und niemand schaut her.
Zuletzt ist es still, und es rauscht nur die Zeit.
Ich weine allein in mein grasgrünes Kleid.

Und einst werd ich fort sein und einst sogar tot,
und nur dieses Liedlein bezeugt meine Not:
Mein Kleid wie der Sommer, mein Haar wie der Herbst,
mein Leben, das niemand als du, Leser, erbst.

Christina Egan © 2016


The woman in the green dress stands for life, fertility, plenty, joy — like the Green Man or Green Woman of ancient pagan traditions, I suppose…

The Tea Turned Cold – IV

Please note the fourth part of an essay at POLITICS .

The Tea Turned Cold in the Cup,

or, Why Women’s Work is No Work

IV.

Imagine that in times of austerity, companies and organisations started sending out new job descriptions, proposing that everyone could keep their job if they agreed to do some additional unpaid work.

Since there were no funds any more for cleaning and catering nor for gardening, all staff would have to hoover offices and clean bathrooms, buy and prepare lunches and snacks, serve coffees and wash up, mow lawns and water flower-beds.

The schedules, we would be assured, would be very flexible, so that everyone could to a great extent choose at what hours to carry out these extra duties or whether to come in on Saturdays or Sundays. No one should be worried about their prospects because they would be kept on if they had to change their working patterns or go down on their hours.

There would be no law passed about this; it would be a general consensus of an enlightened society.

Read more here.

Corner of garden with flowers and climbers, spade and trowel.Garden planted from scratch. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2013.

The Tea Turned Cold – III

Please note the third part of an essay at POLITICS .

The Tea Turned Cold in the Cup,

or, Why Women’s Work is No Work

III.

The notion that women are paid less although they work as much and as hard is erroneous: women are paid less although they work more and harder than men. In fact, women are paid less because they work more than men.

If you take into account that women spend much of their time and energy on domestic chores, it stands to reason that they have less space left for their education, training, development, paid and unpaid work, and are less likely to be promoted.

You wonder why someone devotes an essay to something as humble as cleaning toilets or filling washing-machines, and why this should be a political issue. Well, it is a question of principle but also a question of scale.

If you work out that a woman’s additional labour – by comparison to the life partner or other male peers – may well amount to 1,000 hours per year, you reach the figure of 10,000 hours rather soon across a lifetime. This is supposedly sufficient to become a veritable expert or great artist; and this is cut out of women’s lives, with no one noticing a hole as big as the Bermuda Triangle.

Read more here.

 

Line of washing outdoors, very colourful, above greenery and flower-pot.Photograph: Christina Egan © 2013.

The Tea Turned Cold – II

Please note the second part of an essay at POLITICS:

The Tea Turned Cold in the Cup,

or, Why Women’s Work is No Work

II.

When a woman cooks a nourishing meal from scratch for her family and afterwards wipes the table and counters, scrubs the sink, rinses and washes all the crockery and cutlery, all the spoons and utensils, and the casserole or baking-tray, will she say: “Well, washing up is as much work again as cooking”?

No, she will say: “I do it by hand. It’s only four plates.” And she will say it with a shrug of her shoulders and a throwaway tone.

Read more here.

Two round cakes from above, with cherries in patterns.

Home-made millet and cherry cakes. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016.