Maternity and domestic work: how the pandemic has shown that women are “still in a state of servitude”

Maternity and domestic work: how the pandemic has shown that women are “still in a state of servitude”

Seattle author Angela Garbes’ new book is about domestic work – and the enormous amount of work that motherhood is, and how society undervalues ​​it. She also talks about her power to drive social change.

Author Angela Garbes published her first book “Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy” in 2018. She initially didn’t want to write a second book about motherhood, she said. she declared.

“I was really aware of how women’s stories are treated like a niche. And they’re not valued,” Garbes said. “I’m aware of how women’s stories and women’s experiences are pushed outward – we center men’s experiences. And so there was a part of me that just wanted to not have to be pigeonholed. “

But when the pandemic started, she decided to double down. This is because taking care of his family has become a central point in his life.

“[During] the first four months of the pandemic… i was at home. Just at home. Just me, my children and my wife. And we were really cut off from the rest of the world,” Garbes said. “I looked after them 24/7. And it was tough.”

It is this difficulty – the invisible work of caring for one’s family – that Garbes has focused on in her new book, “Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change.”

“I think we all realized during the pandemic that we couldn’t do it alone,” Garbes said. “And that’s the biggest kind of thing that I started to struggle with. You know, we’re organized in the United States around nuclear families…and I think we kind of lost sight of how much we are all truly interdependent.”

For Garbes, it was a time to recognize the systems that allowed families to be so independent, so non-communal. And when something like a global pandemic happens, a lot of those systems go down.

“I think a lot of people, and especially a lot of women, have realized, no matter how successful they were outside the home in their professional work, and how much they’ve kind of outsourced that domestic work, during the pandemic, they were forced to do And a lot of women are realizing, in terms of the male patriarchal world, that we’re still kind of in a condition of bondage.

Garbes said she wanted this moment of judgment to have a lasting impact.

“Here’s our moment where now everyone sees it – right? And part of me writing this book was like, ‘I want to enjoy this moment. I never want to go back. “”

But Garbes said some of that anger, that awareness, has dissipated as schools have reopened and life has returned to some semblance of normalcy.

But she said she hoped the mothers’ rightful anger would continue. And that it will push the world to be a better place when its children are adults, with children of their own.

“Parenting, to be fair, also feels like a lot of drudgery — it never ends,” Garbes said. “That’s also part of what this book is about. That’s how I felt during the pandemic. But it was about reframing things and understanding the importance and meaning of the work we do in as caregivers.”