cover image The Home Stretch: Why It’s Time to Come Clean About Who Does the Dishes

The Home Stretch: Why It’s Time to Come Clean About Who Does the Dishes

Sally Howard. Atlantic, $15.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-78649-759-8

Journalist Howard (The Kama Sutra Diaries) delivers an astute, sharp-edged, and frequently witty analysis of gender inequalities in childcare and other forms of domestic labor. Claiming the feminist movement has a moral obligation to “bring politics back to the kitchen sink,” Howard discusses why, even as more women entered the workplace, they remained primarily responsible for maintaining households and the emotional labor of nurturing relationships; probes her family history (her great-grandmother’s suicide stemmed from “a mother’s trouble,” a euphemism for postpartum depression and the drudgery of household work); and explains how in her own marriage, egalitarian ideas and best intentions have yielded to culturally entrenched patterns. She weaves in insights from scholars and activists including Silvia Federici, whose Wages for Housework movement highlighted how economies depended on the unrecognized and unremunerated work of reproduction, and casts a critical eye on “post-feminist con[s]” like mommy blogging and “yummy mummies” that add effortless sexiness to women’s responsibilities. A survey of 1,081 couples conducted by the author provides data on the division of household labor and insights into what women are up against (“My dad used to joke that women’s feet are small so that they can reach the sink,” one respondent writes). Expertly blending careful research and frank personal reflections, this call for change rings true. (June)