It has been a social norm to see certain tasks within the home associated as “women’s work.” Lupton digs into the roots of the American household with a look at men, women, appliances and more. Machines within the kitchen do work that cultural define men vs. women. It is believed that the self is manufactured, defined by products bought for your house. Women were viewed as the “chief purchasing agents” that were the main users of consumer products for the household. Men on the other hand were the driving force for design, invention, entrepreneurship and more. While men went to work, women maintained, cleaning and used consumer goods, becoming targets for advertisement.
Industrial design added the styling of planes and trains to consumer products to create emotionally appealing commodities. This in turn drove women away from wage jobs because of the domestic ideal to become workers of jobs for neatness, courtesy and personal service. During a feminist movement by Betty Friedan who critiques consumer culture, Marshall McLuhan writes a book “The Mechanical Bride,” depicting the female body as “a machine like aggregate of detachable, interchangeable parts” as a form of “sex and technology.”
As advertisement continues to transform tools into appealing commodities that promise to satisfy emotional and material needs, packaging, branding and design from certain companies become household names such as Hoover. Their description of the Hoover vacuum illustrates how it will “sweep your rug and give (a women) all her heart desires.” Labor saving devices continue to come a long way as washing machines advertise to do all the work but a user of this device still needed to load, sort and fold. At this time however, advertising calls for women to embrace housework as a “natural calling.”
Women begin to break away from this however, as women for hire becomes a big field of work at the turn of the century. These women for hire work on laundry for families as a preference to live-in maids because they set own hours and tended to their own families. This becomes a prototype of postwar cleaning woman, turning housework in an invisible underground economy.
Despite the emergence of washer, dryers and irons, housework seemed to dwindle while both men and women worked into the 70s and 80s. The issue at hand continued to be men and women balancing chorus throughout the house as women would come home to a “second shift” burden of housework.
The question I have is: Despite all the inventions of household products to aid our everyday lives, there is an endless cycle of chorus that might not be evenly distributed. Is socially expectable for women to do certain chorus while men do others? Should they be doing the same work? Is there a technology that could be invented to address all chorus in the household to break the social norm? What features would it have?