The mission of real working wivesI would rather spend my last minute playing than complaining, so I do household chores in the morning before going to work. Today, I scrubbed the stove with baking soda and did laundry before work.
But you would be seriously mistaken to think I handle work and housework perfectly. I say, “I pursue minimalism at home,” but what I meant to say is, “I do the minimal amount of domestic chores needed for survival.”
While calling myself a “domestic minimalist” makes my husband look like an outdated masculinist, it is actually far from what my family really is.
Writer Im Gyeong-seon wrote in her new book “About Attitude” that “equality doesn’t necessarily appear as five to five.” Each family has a different idea of equality. In fact, “helping out” with household chores is an oxymoron. It is fair to divide work around the house among working partners. Partners “divide” work, not “help out.”
I feel thankful for my mother-in-law, who supports me in many ways. She sends homemade food and drinks, and I am known for receiving frequent packages. However, I am not a good daughter-in-law. On Children’s Day, I get pressured for not having children. On Parents’ Day, I feel sorry for not visiting mine. Journalists, but also office workers, businesswomen, diplomats and many others, have a hard time paying due respect to their parents and in-laws in May - family month here.
Then I learned of the death of Dave Goldberg. Anyone interested in gender equality would be saddened by the loss. He was married to Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, and died in early May at age 47. He was an established Silicon Valley executive, but more famous for being supportive of his successful wife. Goldberg was a ray of light for all working women in a world where a woman seeking out a career is considered deviant, as Rebecca Solnit described in her book, “Men Explain Things to Me.”
Upon Goldberg’s death, Sandberg changed her Facebook profile with a photo from her wedding and returned to work five days later. I am no Sandberg, I am more like Kimiko, a reporter in the Japanese drama “I’ve Been Married to Hell.” In the morning, Kimiko can barely find her pantyhose among her husband’s socks. But I am fortunate to have an understanding mother-in-law (She texts me when she reads my articles). The mission of the 21st century’s working wives may be to do a good job at work - or write a good article, in my case - so their families can be proud. It is not a lame excuse to meet a deadline.
The author is a political and international news writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 25, Page 20
by CHUN SU-JIN