I am so happy for Debbie Schwartz.
I read in my paper this past weekend that Debbie has given her laundry room “the star treatment”!!!!!
What can this mean? Why, let me tell you:
Her super-capacity washer and dryer sit on marble floors and bask in the light of twin bronze chandeliers. A Romanesque sculpture stands on one of the wide polished marble counters designed for folding laundry. The large room has the same cabinets as her gourmet kitchen and a tile stall to dry delicates. There’s even a garden view.
Oh my! But wait, that’s not all! Debbie, you see, longs for the fresh scent of laundry hung to dry on a clothesline. Not to worry, Debbie, you won’t have to break a nail fussing with clothespins:
And for those who miss the simplicity of a clothesline? A $3,750 indoor air-drying unit promises to deliver something close to a fresh-breeze scent.
Yes, global warming be damned, no technology is too expensive for Debbie to get back to simpler times and fresher scents.
Apparently, people with more money than brains (and no consciences) have already decorated the hell out of their kitchens, bathrooms, closets, and entertainment room/media centers, and they’ve created their “outdoor living spaces” complete with large-screen flat-panel t.v.s. What’s left to burn the cash on in the house? The laundry room! How about these statistics:
In 1992, only 17 percent of American homes had a separate laundry room. Today, 56.7 percent of households do. The average space devoted to laundry work is now 47 square feet, enough to hold a full-size washer, dryer, sink and hampers. For those with household incomes more than $100,000, it’s almost double, according to the research.
That’s a lot of laundry rooms out there just begging for the star treatment!
But folks, you just have to realize, a large laundry room is almost a necessity.
Lynn S. Neuberg says a large laundry room helps her manage her Bel-Air Crest household. When she’s having an outdoor party, caterers prepare trays in this room and use its door to the backyard, sidestepping the kitchen.
Sooooo nice to have a back entrance for the help!
Ruth Schwartz Cowan has shown how the invention and development of household technologies, meant to be labor-saving devices, actually created more work for women. (See More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave.) When she wrote about households as units of consumption, I wonder if she could have imagined a Debbie Schwartz or a Lynn Neuberg. This is consumption at an extreme level.
Cool new technology for men is geared around leisure pursuits. But cool new technology targeted at women is geared around…housework. Making more of it. Don’t just dry your laundry! Dry it in our new high tech machine that gives it that fresh, dried-on-the-line scent! Don’t let laundry be a chore that needs doing, to be shared by everyone in the house, and let’s get it over with as soon as possible – make it a luxury, leisure-time pursuit for women! Encourage women to lavish attention and money and time on the laundry room – because even though they have careers and lives outside the home, home and hearth will always be the women’s sphere.
This article ran in the “Home & Design” section of the Philadelphia Inquirer, but it really ought have run in the Science section as a horrifying example of how gender, class, and technology intersect with each other and with global warming. Encouraging women to consume at this level – or to aspire to consume at this level, since we aren’t all as rich as Debbie apparently is – is completely irresponsible. In the front pages of the paper I daily read articles about the effects of climate change in this or that place on the planet; today’s paper had an article about how development is killing Barnegat Bay. And yet, in Home & Design, the Debbies of the world are still held up as positive aspirational role models for women.
What’s that? Oh, it’s just Debbie complaining about the heat wave and the drought, as she pulls the fresh-scent clothes out of her special dryer. Crank up the air conditioning a little more, will you? And pass me a bottle of Evian from the fridge.