Domestic Work and Motherhood in Feminist Criticism

Why domestic work is often invisible care work? How does the invisibility of care work shape the experiences of workers?

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The importance of women’s work has always been of primary interest for feminist movements and discussions. It has been proven thousand times that the notion of women’s domestic work has always been accepted with criticism. Even more, women’s work was never rewarded in the same way as men’s work. These inequalities arose a wave of indignation among women. However, the problem is topical even nowadays. It is necessary to identify possible reasons for the perception of domestic work as invisible care work.

According to Estelle Friedman, “a powerful contemporary myth holds that women in the home do not do work, or when they do, their jobs are “natural,” merely the biological functions of mothering, nurturing, reproducing daily life” (124). Nowadays, women are engaged in domestic work not only in their families. Domestic work is a type of occupation. Nevertheless, it is often invisible too. Ehrenreich and Hochschild consider that invisibility of domestic work is predetermined by the modern culture of individualism (4). Servants in modern settings are not displayed at all. They should disappear in front of guests or do no attract attention.

The invisibility of care is often predetermined by the fact that workers are representatives of the Third World. They enter the foreign country and offer services illegally in most cases. It influences their experience drastically. For instance, the absence of contact often results in the inappropriate payment or inadequate living conditions. Women become subjects of violent and aggressive treatment too. The problem is that women do not have necessary legal protection and support. This fact aggravates their experiences as well.

How and why does motherhood potentially inhibit full democratic participation? Refer to cultural and institutional barriers to participation.

Full democratic participation presupposes the right and ability to become an active participant in social affairs. Politics, being an important aspect of social life, can be evaluated from this respective. It is obvious even from TV programs that the number of women is not equal to the number of men taking part in politics. Paxton and Hughes have investigated this issue and found exact data concerning the level of women participation in politics in various countries. The average percentage of women who are legal representatives of people comprise no more than twenty percent worldwide. However, data differ drastically in various countries. For instance, Rwanda has the highest level of women enrollment in government (Paxton and Hughes 18). The level constitutes fifty percent. Micronesia and Saudi Arabia are countries with the lowest level of women engagement in the system of legislation.

Several reasons prevent women from becoming politicians or usual democratic participants. Violence, gender-based bias, and motherhood are the most widespread reasons. Motherhood requires extremes efforts and devotion. Many women who have children do not have time for anything else. They have to take care of them all day and night without breaks and days off. This basic provision of care to children is the primary reason for women being removed from social life. They merely do not have time for it. Besides, many women start receiving education or even career but motherhood forces them to make the particular decision. Thus, while men also have responsibilities for their families, they can proceed to live the same life and develop careers. A woman who prepares to become a mother physically cannot continue working or participating in social affairs.

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It should be noted that some women manage to continue their active social life during their motherhood. However, it requires enormous efforts and time. Usually, they have some support. Single mothers devote all their time to making lives of their children easier and better. According to Brennan, single motherhood, together with poverty, are the most widespread reasons for women starting selling sex (157). Women are often left alone as a result of the consensus unions. Having no legal obligations and responsibilities for each other, men may leave their women with children. Consequently, women face urgent need to earn money and survive. It is impossible to become a democratic participant under such conditions.

A variety of institutional and cultural barriers prevents women from democratic participation. Cultural barriers often refer to the widespread stereotypical opinions within the particular society. Thus, in many countries, raising children is considered to be purely women work. Men should not participate in the process of upbringing at all. Rhacel Parrenas has investigated the care crisis in the Philippines. The same stereotype is typical for this state. Parrenas writes that egalitarian gender opinions concerning children rearing should be prevailing in society (54). Such tendency will increase democratic participation as far as motherhood duties are divided between both parents.

Institutional barriers refer to the tendency of male dominance in different institutions. The level of women involvement increased dramatically only in the last century. Before that time, men were the only representatives of institutional authorities. This tendency is still deeply rooted in the modern society. It will take time until women involvement increases and become the same.

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StudyCorgi. "Domestic Work and Motherhood in Feminist Criticism." January 20, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Domestic Work and Motherhood in Feminist Criticism." January 20, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Domestic Work and Motherhood in Feminist Criticism'. 20 January.

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