An article about RBG punched me right in the gut yesterday. In the Vogue piece “May Every Woman Find Her Marty Ginsburg,” Michelle Ruiz describes how one of Ginsburg’s greatest assets in her success was the fact that she chose lawyer Martin Ginsburg, “a proto-feminist unicorn who supported her dreams and ambitions along with his own.” He cooked, he cared for the children, he used his professional networks to lobby on behalf of his wife, he took up many of the emotional and physical labors all too familiar to women both at home and at work, even baking cakes for the birthdays of Supreme Court law clerks.
And I’m not bringing up Mr. Ginsburg’s cake baking to give him a gold star and a pat on the head, but to illustrate how rare it is to read about a husband taking on the decidedly not-glamourous invisible domestic work behind supporting a professionally successful wife that is often taken as a given when it comes to a woman supporting her husband. This is not performative parenting, it’s getting in there and anticipating the household needs to support a working spouse.
And that work has very real consequences during COVID. As the Vogue piece quotes, “All too often women are marrying their glass ceilings”. Because as BuzzFeed News discusses, a study in the Gender, Work & Organization Journal found that the past six months has “disproportionately affected mothers” (in heterosexual couples) with mothers reducing their working hours far more than fathers, potentially making that gender gap “20% to 50% worse.” Combine that with men getting paid more overall, therefore having the seemingly more financially valuable career to support, the insidious and antiquated idea that Moms are just somehow better at chores or other traditionally “pink” jobs, and America’s offensive lack of childcare support for families, and you’ve got a perfect storm that is pushing women out of their careers and back into roles in the home.
Now, obviously this is the macro level, and I understand that “not all marriages” are like this - in fact, I sent out a few texts yesterday to girlfriends of mine congratulating them for “marrying their Marty.” But the macro story paints a disquieting picture of micro experience, one that could set women’s progress back decades.
Speaking of unglamorous and hard work, have you signed up to phone bank yet? Hit me up, y’all!
Be kind to yourselves. And please wear your masks.