One economic perspective on the gendered division of labor is as a form of specialization. I’ll eventually get into those arguments in greater detail, but the basic idea is if each partner specializes in the things that they’re better at, this leads to greater efficiency—more done in less time.
There are a number of responses to this argument, but today I want to look at another argument for a division of labor: you don’t have to keep negotiating. If both partners—or all the roommates—are sometimes responsible for a task, then there will need to be regular conversations about who is doing a task this time. So now there’s a negotiation that needs to happen before the work can even start. Is this meta-work: work about work?
“Okay, so you’ll get the groceries this week, but first we’ll need to meal plan. Since you’re doing the grocery shopping I’ll clean the bathrooms. Are you cool with mowing the lawn?” And so forth. Continue reading