In the very recent past, the term women’s work has come to have a derogatory connotation. Women’s work is said to encompass all the domestic chores that have historically been associated only with women such as cooking, cleaning and staying at home with the children. Whenever a person is limited to only certain kinds of work in a society, there is a need to break free from that work in order to inhabit a place of choice. However, when we choose to do alleged women’s work because we enjoy it, there is nothing degrading about it. There is an honour to it, and when done alone or in a group this work can be truly meaningful and fulfilling because the home is the foundation of security for all who live in it. The importance of tending the hearth that nurtures all who bask in its warmth cannot be overstated.
In addition to being essential to the functioning of the world, alleged women’s chores offer creative fulfilment, intimate interaction, and personal satisfaction. The more we become aware of the significance of this realm of labour, the more fulfilling it will be to those who do the work and those who benefit from it. A well-set table and a delicious, healthy meal can uplift and heal us on multiple levels. Clean, crisp sheets on a bed allow us to enter a deep slumber, inspiring a sense of safety and trust. Our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health all rest upon the smooth functioning of our homes.
The gift of women’s work, which still often comes from the hands of women, now also comes from fathers, husbands, and hired help. Whatever the source, our sincere gratitude upon receiving these treasures reminds us of the profound value of what is traditionally known as women’s work. The more we acknowledge the tremendous importance of this work, the more we are able to do it with a sense of pride, never feeling for a moment that our efforts are less significant or meaningful than those working outside the home—on the contrary, it is this work that makes all other work possible.
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