Feminism & COVID
Sadly, there have always been issues surrounding the division of labor, inside and outside the home, and the way in which it affects women and men differently. Like this article highlights, the COVID-19 pandemic just “magnifies all existing inequalities.” During the height of the pandemic, with most institutions shutting down, parents were faced with the burden of childcare (and possibly elder care), causing it to mostly fall on the backs of the mothers and allowing the issue of gender division to grow. I have seen some of this firsthand. In my family, my mother makes more money than my father and works more hours than him per week. Additionally, my parents’ jobs were never lost (they are physical therapists, so essential workers) and my sister and I are both in our 20s, so childcare was not an issue. However, I spent most of the pandemic (March-August) nannying for a family that had a very different situation than mine. I think it is ironic that most of the childcare in the family I nannied for fell to women. For example, when I was not nannying the 40 hours a week I was asked to, the children’s mother was watching the kids because she was a part-time occupational therapist and her husband worked full-time. So, like this article mentions, “women are more likely to be the lower earners, meaning their jobs are considered a lower priority when disruptions come along.” She was the one to relieve me every single day at 5pm. She was also the one to look after them on the weekends, and even had to take some time off to be with them when I wasn’t available. While I was paid for my duties, this mother was not. So, it felt pretty selfish receiving a paycheck each week, knowing she did the exact same thing as me when I left at 5pm every day, except she wasn’t paid. I think this pandemic has really highlighted the fact that we like to tell ourselves that we have grown from the 1950s attitude of men being the breadwinners and women being the homemakers, but really, this system is still in place. And it’s sad.