Self-help and good practice: the struggle for women’s leisure
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Earlier chapters have analysed the constraints on women’s access to free time and limitations on the range of choices available to them about how to spend it - limitations which derive from their structural position in the family and the labour market, and the associated norms and ideologies about ‘a woman’s place’. Inequalities in childcare and the domestic division of labour, as well as in wage rates for women’s and men’s work, and in the distribution of personal spending money within the household, all contribute to women’s recreational disadvantage. This is reflected to some extent in gender differences in leisure within the home: although the most popular activities such as watching television, listening to music and reading are done by approximately the same proportions of women and men, those which cost money for equipment and require space and time free from interruptions (such as hobbies, crafts and arts) are done by four times as many men as women (see Chapter 4). Men have more leisure time at their disposal than women (Shaw, 1986), women’s leisure is much more adversely affected than men’s by marriage and parenthood, and the ‘quality’ of their free time is likely to be reduced by domestic commitments (Green, Hebron and Woodward, 1987b). Gender differences are much more marked for leisure activities away from home, with many more men than women regularly ‘going out for a drink’ or playing sport. The 1983 General Household Survey found that two-thirds of men, compared with under half the women, had been out for a drink in the preceding month. Well over half the men but barely a third of the women had taken part in any sport in the same period (GHS, 1985).
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