The first episode of the BBC series Women was well worth watching– because it interviewed a fascinating and engaging collection of important 2nd Wave feminists. (Though it’s been rightly criticised for neglecting black and minority ethnic women). Mothers was clearly designed to be a demonstration of how little has changed in the domestic division of labour. But for such a demonstration to be effective, one really needs a sample with some claim to representativeness. Instead, we got palatial house after palatial house, posh accent after posh accent– all climaxing, to my mind, with the couple who declared that their last row was over “lighting the AGA”. (It’s hard to explain the cultural significance of an AGA to non-UK people. But a British Martha Stewart would love one, and few of her fans would be able to afford one.) Moreover, they were all truly stunningly unreflective– to the point where one looks at the unjust division of labour and eventually thinks “well, you kind of deserve it for being so unreflective about your life. I mean, it’s not like you lack the resources to improve things.” (The worst division of labour, by the way, was in the one family where the mother was the breadwinner. She, unlike the male breadwinners, was totally unappreciative of the work her partner put in. Just shows that anyone can devalue traditional women’s work.) If you watch it, you’ll find yourself wondering where they found these people, and why they chose them. But only for a minute, because then you’ll realise they’re nearly all from the London media world the film-makers clearly move in. Plus a surgeon they must have met a party, and a random academic couple from Lancaster. (Their presence actually was a a bit mysterious. They were also much more reflective. Unfortunately most of their reflections concerned why they chose one form of detergent rather than another.)
Thanks, Mr Jender, for insisting that I “eviscerate this”. If I haven’t done it well enough, do feel free to contribute in comments.