Our class discussion today concerning the increase in household technology in the lives of housewives was very intriguing to me and made me think more profoundly about its implications. As we observed, despite the advancement of such appliances, women were still spending the same amount of, if not more, time on domestic tasks. While Cowan suggests that this a result of the technology replacing the chores of outdates servants, I view the matter in a different manner. I believe that women’s maternal instincts cause them to view housework as “never-ending.” To housewives, there is always something more that can be done to improve the quality of the household as well as the lives of her family members. Although a washing machine may reduce the amount of time necessary to dedicate to laundry, the typical housewife then immediately thinks of what else can be done; she now has time to make dessert for the night, clean the windows, or do some extra food shopping, all tasks that she didn’t have time for before.
I saw this in my own life a few years ago on Thanksgiving, after my mom had completely remodeled the kitchen, drastically improving the appliances and putting in two ovens instead of one. She claimed that the holiday cooking would be done in half the time. However, she spent more time in the kitchen that Thanksgiving than any other. Knowing she had two ovens, she made apple AND pumpkin pie so everyone would be happy. Now that her stovetop was larger, she could make mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, AND turnips. Although the new appliances technically made her life simpler, they actually made her role as a housewife more complicated, as she was now even more well-equipped to meet everyone’s needs and keep everyone happy.