Question: How is it possible that there is a debate about whether or not childcare is infrastructure?
We're sort of stumped that this is a question. For anyone. Even childless people. Like, who thinks that childcare doesn't fit the definition of essential infrastructure? (Don't worry, we're clearly about to tell you who thinks that.)
First, here is the Merriam-Webster definition of infrastructure.
in·fra·struc·ture | ˈinfrəˌstrək(t)SHər | noun
The basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise: the social and economic infrastructure of a country.
Based on this definition, childcare is clearly both a basic physical and organizational structure needed for the operation of a society. It is also generally includes the facilities necessary for the operation of most working enterprises: nonprofit, for profit, and governmental alike. Individual, family, community. Animal, vegetable, mineral.
Childcare makes our economy work. (Which, btw, is why the US Chamber of Commerce has an official position and makes what they call "The Business Case" in support of childcare.)
We think of the US Chamber as pretty, oh, you know, pro-business.
Yet, some folks have stepped forward to question whether childcare is infrastructure. First up, here's a Wyoming-based opinion, followed by some other "thoughts."
And while we do love whiskey (and still fail to understand how Ben Domenech has a platform of any kind), these are gendered perspectives that entirely reinforce this observation from Anne-Marie Slaugher in Rosie Could Be a Riveter Only Because of Our Care Economy. Where is Ours?:
"Insisting that there is actually a fixed definition of what infrastructure is—bridges, but not baby care—perfectly encapsulates the ways in which the world is still shaped by men.”
There are a lot of dollars flowing toward the state of Wyoming right now, and we are a state without a lot of infrastructure (or women in elected office)--regardless of how you choose to define the term. Childcare across our Wyoming communities is neither accessible nor affordable. There are counties that, quite literally, have zero licensed daycares. We have zoning and HOA regulations that relegate home-based daycares to the margins or push them out of business entirely. We have communities where having one child in daycare while you work your full-time job could cost you pretty much all of what that FT job earns you.
And we have lots of conservative (male) leaders making jokes at the exact moment when the flaws of our system have been laid bare over the course of the pandemic.
There are a dearth of voices speaking out about how childcare is essential (and paid leave and protections for pregnant workers and elder care).
We've said it before and we'll keep saying it until we can instantiate it in policy: Care work is the work that makes all other work possible. Now is the time to invest in childcare because it is essential infrastructure.
It’s not their job to buy you cake by Laura Hazard Owen | "Think back to the office you used to work from. Who unloaded the dishwasher, stocked the snacks, circulated the get well cards, made the coffee, bought the birthday cakes? Did she get paid for it? And did the man who never did any of those things get paid 20% less than she did? No, because that would be insane, right? Because a mother works for free, right?"
How Houston’s first pregnant city council member is using her power to enact change by Barbara Rodriguez | “Kamin, 33, is the first pregnant person to ever serve on Houston’s city council. There have been parents ... but she was pregnant while crafting policy, giving her an even more unique outlook on what it means to help run America’s fourth largest city.”
The Perfect Gift for Moms: Money by Reshma Sajauni | "Moms are celebrated once a year, but on every other day, our labor is taken for granted, undervalued or disregarded. We don’t need more gestures of appreciation; we need a national reckoning about the economic value we create with our bodies and our time, without adequate remuneration or support."
Bonus reads: Jen wrote this week on childcare, check it out here: If women are pushed out of the workforce, who's left to do the work? Natalia and Jen are both quoted in this article about the dearth of women in municipal office in Wyoming, read it here: Wyoming ranks near bottom of US for women in municipal office. .
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Bitch in the House: Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage by Cathi Hanauer
Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen
The Mindy Project | I adore “The Mindy Project,” which, like many sitcoms, took a while to gel but has become a consistently hilarious series with a caustic edge, and a sexual depth missing in shows such as “New Girl.” I also love its main character, who says things like, “I could never repay you and I don’t plan to.” I love it in part because the show, and its creator (like many interesting showrunners, both male and female), tends to be a bit of a shit-stirrer—in its best episodes, “The Mindy Project” has a mischievous tendency to destabilize its viewers, by swinging sweet to sour within a single joke." Emily Nussbaum in The New Yorker
Parks & Recreation | "'Parks' is not an overtly ideological show, but buried within it are thoughtful, complex political themes that extend into the larger world in a way that’s rare for modern network shows; today’s, unlike their edgier peers from the seventies, tend to build a cozy world, then stay there." Emily Nussbaum in The New Yorker
Emily in Paris | "Just leave the show on while cleaning the inevitable domestic messes of quarantine. Eventually, sensing that you’ve played two episodes straight without pausing or skipping, Netflix will ask if you’re still really watching. Shamed, I clicked the Yes button, and Emily continued being in Paris. In this and other recent programming, Netflix is pioneering a genre that I’ve come to think of as ambient television." Not Emily Nussbaum but still in The New Yorker
9 to 5
Recipes | Brunch anyone?
Mimosas | We like a 2:1 ratio of dry sparkling wine/cava/champagne to orange juice, but maybe you'd like a more juice-forward cocktail? In which case, reverse that ratio.
Check out the Marshall Plan for Moms. It's a plan to pay mothers for their unseen, unpaid labor.
Working remotely for the last year has revealed just how much of office culture is accidental, arbitrary, and sexist.
Bonus unsolicited opinion from Emily Nussbaum writing about Parks & Rec: "Lobby all you want for change in Washington; maybe what we really need is a dunk tank."
Oh, hey. One more: How Child Care Went From ‘Girly’ Economics to Infrastructure by Emily Peck | "For so long, Dr. Folbre and others sounding the alarm about child care in the United States were shunted to the side of policy conversations. It was left to parents (typically mothers) to figure out who would look after their children so they could get to work. If the United States treated other elements of infrastructure that are critical to the economy the way it does child care, you could imagine the chaos: Car owners would be left building bridges out of duct tape and scrap iron to get to the office, begging close relatives to come by each morning to hold a traffic light up at the corner."