Shannon Kelley

Shannon Kelley
Location
Santa Barbara, California, USA
Birthday
June 11
Company
self-employed
Bio
Shannon Kelley and her mother Barbara Kelley are both journalists, and have just written a book called "Undecided". Together. (...Right??) This blog is a taste of what you'll find in "Undecided", a book about choice overload, analysis paralysis, grass is greener syndrome, longing for the road not traveled, and how the success of the women’s movement has left women stumped in the face of limitless options — and how to get over it. The book comes out on May 3: if you like what you're reading here, get the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Undecided-Endless-Perfect-Career-Life-Thats/dp/1580053416. And subscribe to our blog here: http://undecidedthebook.wordpress.com/

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Salon.com
Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 19, 2012 3:00PM

On Presidents, Apron Strings, and Second Shifts.

Rate: 6 Flag

I’m starting to wonder if this presidential election might hinge on apron strings.

In the wake of the last debate, we’ve all been caught up in binders and trapper-keepers and funny Facebook memes – along with some hijinks on Amazon, where a bunch of smartypants hijacked several binder pages.  I think we’re missing the point.

According to the New York Times, both Obama and Romney are in hot pursuit of the women’s vote.  Which is to say, they seem to think that Double Xers may determine the next president of the United States:

 … And on the campaign trail and on the air, the candidates and their allies argued intensely all day over who would do more to help women. At the same time, the topic of whether the heated encounter Tuesday night had alienated the very female voters they were seeking to connect with became fodder for cable TV discussions.

The level of intensity left little doubt that the election was coming down not only to a state-by-state fight for territory, but also to one for the allegiance of vital demographic groups, chief among them undecided women.

Whew.  Whether the chattering class is right or wrong, it appears we have a lot more power than we’ve had in quite the while.  Let’s think this through.

The bedrock issue in the debate over the women’s vote has had to do with reproductive rights:  abortion and contraception.  Key issues.  Agreed.  Especially because the next president will more than likely be appointing one, or maybe two, justices to the Supreme Court, who may hold the future of Roe V. Wade in their hands.

And then there’s the funding of Planned Parenthood, which not only provides family planning services, but also provides women without health insurance life-saving care for breast cancer, among other medical issues.  My friend was one of them.

But the real issue as I see it is the vision of women’s role in the workplace and the home.  I found one of Gov. Romney’s responses in the debate to be key.  The question had to do with inequalities in the workplace, including the pay gap — Go here for a state-by-state chart of gender pay inequity — which the Governor sidestepped with the unfortunate comment about binders.  What I found revealing, not to mention troubling, was the end of his response, which related to the woman he had hired as chief of staff while governor of Massachusetts:

 Now, one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort, but number two, because I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce, that sometimes they need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can’t be here until 7:00 or 8:00 at night. I need to be able to get home at 5:00 so I can be there for — making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said, fine, let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.

On the surface: flexible schedule.  Good.  One of the issues we’ve been writing about is the challenge faced by working women, who put in the same hours as their male counterparts, and then have to dig into the second shift when they get home.  But look again at the governor’s answer, then ask yourself this:  Where was the chief of staff’s husband and/or kids’ daddy at 5:00?

That’s it, right?

Why is it that in 2012 some folks still assume that household and childcare duties are women’s work?  And why, as one of the sources in our book fumed, do we plant work life balance smack in the middle of the “women’s issues” silo?  Shouldn’t this be a human issue?  A family issue?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I cook dinner most nights, no matter what time I get home from work.  And I’m damn good at it.  No, scratch that.  I’m really good at it:  I inherited my culinary mojo from a long line of incredible Italian cooks (Ask me about my aunts’ gnocchi or cannoli sometime, or my mother’s ability to throw together anything fantastic without a recipe).  Plus, I like to eat good food.  But that’s my choice.  Proscribed gender roles have nothing to do with it.

The issue here, as the presidential election heads down the home stretch, has to do with perception as well as policy.  And I suspect that the nuances of the latter are often driven by the former.  And in this case, the perception in question is gender roles in the home as well as the workplace.

Cue the aprons.

The most recent time-use survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that women still own the second shift. Most telling stats?

On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework–such as cleaning or doing laundry–compared with 48 percent of women. Forty percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 66 percent of women.

All of which, presumably, is on top of a 52 hour work week.

Now, can a president do anything to change all that?  Probably not.  But given that I have been given a lot of power in this election, my vote goes to the guy who doesn’t assume my place is in an apron.

Speaking of which, my husband is wearing one right now.  I’ve got one eye on the Giants game as I write this.  He’s firing up the ‘que and throwing together a salad.


Tagged: aprons, Barack Obama, binders, family issues, gender pay equity, gender roles, Mitt Romney, New York Times, Planned Parenthood, presidential election, Roe V. Wade, second shift, Undecided: How to ditch the endless quest for perfect and find a career -- and life -- that works for you, women's issues, women's vote, work-life balance, workplace

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Tasks are tasks...hardly worth fighting over. I've always believed that if something is causing you trouble and messing up relationships...don't do it. If food preparation has everyone worried about gender roles...don't eat. Better to rip out your stomach than to have your whole body cast into the pit of hell. I guess the hippy in me still sees the capitalistic American lifestyle as coerced and contrived.
While not a Romney fan, I am trying to puzzle out just what Ms. K would have liked him to say? Declare war on Slacker dads? Suggest equal home duty hours? What?!
Here here!

My wife does usually cook, and yes she is also really good at it, but it has never been a task I expect her to do. She simply gets to it before I do because she has an idea of what she wants to cook. Meanwhile I am indecisive when it comes to food. If I do want to cook I have to ask if I can cook, because if she is hungry and does not feel like waiting she will absolutely bump me out of the way! LOL!

She works outside the home, though, while I work at home. I am a currently contracted with The Huffington Post as a remote comment moderator. So, I do housework and am really good it!
And when you hear a noise in middle of the night do you wake him up or go investigate yourself?
But to a point such things run against who we are, which can be observed in most single non-homosexuals living arrangements, often rather obviously lacking "a woman's touch," if that implied men need women more than women need men, as on average, women take care of themselves better, if, the really interesting question is that as more women have higher paying careers, is the main effect to leave a larger fraction of the male population alone eating Top Ramen with their beer or vodka.
But to a point such things run against who we are, which can be observed in most single non-homosexuals living arrangements, often rather obviously lacking "a woman's touch," if that implied men need women more than women need men, as on average, women take care of themselves better, if, the really interesting question is that as more women have higher paying careers, is the main effect to leave a larger fraction of the male population alone eating Top Ramen with their beer or vodka.
oh, blessed woman, that hath a husband willing to work the 'que. perhaps in a year or two you can lead him to the stove, and point out the simularities. but, there is a surprisingly high threshhold 'tween 'que and 'tove...
I agree with you to a point, and I agree with Romney on almost nothing. But having worked in a field for 30 years that allowed next to no flexibility, I'm all in favor of the greater flexibility we're seeing in the workplace. Ultimately, I think it helps both men and women, as well as families. As a divorced mother who had the primary responsibility for the kids, I would have loved it. The fact that it might have originated out of some gender typing wouldn't have changed that and doesn't change the ultimate benefits.