Lesbians at home: why can’t a man be more like a woman?

  • Gillian A. Dunne


Finally, we come to the analysis of respondents’ approaches to and experiences of relationships to illustrate the significance of sexuality in shaping women’s work, in both its household and market forms. The review and reassessment of the relationship between the public and the private have enabled feminists to identify ways that women and men’s employment circumstances are shaped by their home life situations and vice versa. Men’s ability to appropriate women’s unpaid physical and emotional labour means that women and men do not exchange their labour in the labour market on the same basis (Adkins, 1995:43, Pateman, 1988). Both Finch (1983) and Kanter (1977) show that a one-way process exists to incorporate married women into the jobs of their husbands as, for example, unpaid hostesses, secretaries or accountants. By taking on the bulk of caring and household work, women in heterosexual relationships enable their partners to be more single-minded in their engagement with paid work at the expense of their own employment experience. Married women’s jobs are usually geared towards accommodating their home life commitments as much as possible (Scott et al., 1993:25). The constraints that women face at home leave them vulnerable to exploitation by employers in their search for a cheap and flexible workforce.


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© Gillian A. Dunne 1997

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  • Gillian A. Dunne

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