Who cares?

Justine Toh on how women have borne the brunt of COVID-19, having to balance paid work with housework, parenting, and home-schooling.

My kids have outgrown The Wheels on the Bus, but it’s been growing on me as a rage anthem the more it goes round and round (and round and round) my head.

I blame lockdown. It’s made a strong case for why the wheels of family life have continued to turn, even as COVID has cancelled everything else: it’s because of the women.

Arguably, women have borne the brunt from COVID. They’re over-represented in casual employment, and in industries hardest hit by shutdown.

But even if women are still in paid employment, shutdown has meant multi-tasking on multiple fronts. We already knew that pre-COVID, women did most of the housework. Well, guess what too many women were doing during March, April, and most of May? Not just keeping house but home schooling, parenting, and trying to work from home. (Incidentally, if you ever want to experience the soul-crushing sensation of sucking at everything simultaneously, that’s a good place to start.)

COVID has exposed already existing weaknesses in our system. It’s also shown how much we take care for granted: care is whatever happens in the background while the rest of us get on with the real work. Care, we believe, is women’s work.

But care is costly – especially if you’re doing it right. If my Christianity has taught me anything, it’s that true care means that someone is getting sacrificed.

I’ve really appreciated the messages people have sent expressing their concern for the demands on me, as a mother, in this time. But I have to ask: who is texting the men, and prompting them to care more about care?