Our Economy is Built on the Unpaid Labor of Women
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Hey there. Here’s a quick family update before I jump into my latest essay.
Our school year in France is starting to wind down. Oscar (our high school Junior) just took the French section of The Bac. It’s the famed (and dreaded) standardized test in France, and you have to pass it in order to graduate from high school. Oscar is the first Blair to take The Bac and we’re proud of him.
Betty (our high school sophomore) is in Paris for two weeks doing a Stage — it’s the French word for internship. Everyone in her grade is required to do a stage right now. Betty’s stage is at two different bookstores in Paris (one week at each one) — very dreamy! She’s staying with her big sister Olive and Olive’s apartment. We are thinking we may head to the city tomorrow so we can visit her in a bookstore and cheer her on.
Flora June (our 6th grader) will finish the school year on July 6th. That’s the official last day of class. Her school year goes a bit longer than her older siblings, which is discouraging, so we are trying to think of things to look forward to, and are toying with the idea of hosting an end-of-school-year party.
Olive (she’s our number 3 in line) just finished her second year of film school in Paris. She is still making her summer plans — which she promises will include visits home to Normandy.
Maude (our second oldest) is flying to Europe from North Carolina today, and bringing her boyfriend who we are excited to meet. They are spending a few days in Barcelona and then coming to France next week. I keep hearing awful things about air travel right now, so I’m nervous for them and hoping things will go smoothly.
Ralph (our oldest) just finished his Junior year at Berkeley and is doing lots of really cool film projects this summer. Currently he’s working on one in Southern California.
Our Economy is Built on Unpaid Labor
It’s overwhelming. Should I write about how the Supreme Court turned over a hundred year law making concealed carry legal at the federal level? Should I write about the pathetic Republican politicians who asked for pardons within a few days of January 6th? Should I talk about the bi-partisan gun safety legislation that amazingly passed the Senate? All three of those news stories are from YESTERDAY.
But instead of those topics, yesterday, I wrote a little thread about how our country and economy is built on unpaid labor by women. I’ll share it here — it’s starts with a tweet from a man who had a success secret to share:
He has since deleted this tweet and the accompanying thread — he was rightly getting mocked because he doesn’t know his “success secret” is having a wife who keeps his life running so smoothly that he can pay attention to work with no distractions.
His tweet, and the irritated responses, made me think about how often companies hire men with stay-at-home wives, and what a huge benefit that is to the companies — a benefit the companies are not asked to pay for.
I started thinking. Based on what the man describes about his work day, we can conclude his wife is doing about 70% of the work it takes to keep him productive and thriving.
So common sense says that his company should split his paycheck 30/70 and pay 70% directly to the wife. She should get 70% of the retirement benefits directly in her name, and 70% of any other perks or benefits. They should both be on the payroll.
His company is taking a huge risk — they have a CEO whose entire life is built on volunteer, unpaid labor. Can you imagine if this company relied on key internal departments that were run only by volunteers with no paid contracts? What investors would support that kind of risk?
We can assume this CEO has generous paid time-off — at least 4 weeks — where he can rest his body and take his mind off company matters, which will help him be a more effective worker. Does his wife get 4 weeks off of her care work with the children and the home?
If the CEO had to replace the wife's unpaid, volunteer work, he would need to hire:
-A Surrogate Pregnancy Carrier (minimum 6 times).
-A full-time live-in Nanny/Careworker.
-A full-time live-in Housekeeper.
-A full-time live-in Cook.
-A full-time live-in Chauffeur.
-A per project Holiday Decorator (minimum 6 times per year).
-A per project Party Planner (minimum 6 parties per year).
-A per project Gift Buying Service (minimum 7 occasions per year).
-A per project Home Organizer.
-A per project Interior Designer.
-A weekly Yard & Garden Service.
-A full-time Errand-Running Service.
-A full-time live-in Social Director.
-A full-time Administrative Assistant (scheduling, plus parenting+school-related paperwork).
-And should I add Sex Worker to that list?
We're at 15 different positions and counting. A staff of 15 would require a significant amount of management. So he would also need to hire:
- A Full-time House Staff Manager.
Adding up the salaries for all of these positions, we must be well over $600k. In fact, probably much higher.
For security and stability purposes alone, wouldn't it make business sense for any company hiring a CEO with a stay-at-home wife to include a min $600k salary for that wife, in order to keep the CEO's life stable and consistent?
Also, if the wife does 70% of the CEO's life work, and is unpaid, and the man divorces this wife (very common behavior among CEOs), shouldn't she be able to sue the company for 70% of their increased earnings under his CEO leadership?
Anyway. Just thinking about how our entire country is built on the unpaid labor of women (all women, not just wives). And how a whole lot of men are oblivious to this fact, including Mr. CEO, who, after getting called out for leaving his wife’s labors completely out of his thread, described his wife as his "Rock," but does not compensate her for her work.
A Few Things I’ve Wanted to Share With You
-What doctors wish patients knew about decision fatigue, by Sara Berg. Lately I’ve been better at recognizing when I’m about to hit a decision fatigue wall, and have been trying to learn more about it and how to manage it.
-Manage Conflict: Accepting Influence, by Zach Brittle. According to this article, 2/3 of men are “unable” to accept influence from women. Because of this, over 80% of relationships with these men fail.
-Fashion Has Abandoned Human Taste, by Amanda Mull in the Atlantic. An interesting analysis of why we often see the same design in so many different stores.
-The Subversive Joy of Being a Single Mother, by Lyz Lenz.
-Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers Are Collecting Troves of Data That Could Be Weaponized Against Women, by Abigail Abrams and Ver Bergengruen in Time Magazine. These centers are dangerous — a "crisis pregnancy center" near Dallas told a woman she could carry an ectopic pregnancy to term if she was “careful." There’s no such thing as a safe ectopic pregnancy.
-I highly recommend Elie Mystal’s book Allow Me To Retort. It’s about what rights we have, what rights Republicans are trying to take away, and how to stop them. If you like audiobooks, go for the audio version because he reads it himself and it’s great. Here’s the link to the book on BookShop for those avoiding Amazon.
-My website has been so unstable for the past few weeks. My tech team keeps thinking it’s fixed, and the site does well for a couple of days, and then goes down again. It’s up now, and I’m hoping it’s fixed for real this time. Anyway, one of the latests posts is all about my recommendations on what to do in Paris with kids.
That’s all for now. Feel free to comment on anything I mentioned above, or whatever’s on your mind. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.