Love one another? That’s unpaid domestic labor


The medium, as they say, is the message. And the message of social media is that you don’t owe anyone anything, that connection is vulnerability, that life is a series of transactions, and that anyone who tells you differently is just trying to exploit you.

“Here’s the thing: Small acts of kindess that are mostly domestic labor just add up to work at the end of the day,” a TikTok momfluencer named Paige Connell explained in a recent video.

“I don’t do his laundry. He can do that himself. I do my laundry, and we do the kids’ laundry, but he does his own,” she says in a video titled, “A list of things I don’t do for my husband.” That was the only appearance of the word “we” in the video, which included over 30 instances of the word “I.”

After explaining she doesn’t pack him lunch or cook the family dinner, she comments, “Would it be kind of me to do that? For sure. Is it my job? Absolutely not.”

And that’s where the worldview shines through: A marriage is just like any other contractual relationship. Only a fool would do any more than he or she is required.

“That’s domestic labor,” she says of small favors such as moving her husband’s wash to the dryer. “Those are not acts of kindness. … It is not my job as a wife. It is not in my job description.”

This isn’t merely the impatient ranting of a stressed-out mother of young children. It’s the cogent articulation of an entire anthropology — one that holds individual autonomy as the highest good, and one ought only do what one has explicitly agreed to do.

Personal finance celebrity Suze Orman, in the same spirit, tells couples to separate their finances and keep a strict ledger. “Having joint bank accounts can lead to power imbalances and a loss of autonomy. … You all should be autonomous human beings. You’ve come into this relationship as an autonomous human being.”

Marriage is an odd fit for this worldview. Marriage involves laying down one’s life for each other, and that results in two people becoming intertwined. But that intertwining undermines autonomy.


One New York Times op-ed in praise of divorce instructed all married couples to adopt a 50/50 custody agreement, which will lead to “a lot of very tidy and businesslike communication.”

Isn’t that what every young man and woman dreams of? One day, I want to have a tidy and businesslike relationship — with no uncompensated domestic labor.

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