Listen to an audio version of this page (8 min, 46 sec):
In reference to school closures, Lewis brings up the Ebola health crisis which occurred in West Africa in the time period of 2014-2016. (Note: The following paragraph cites a historical precedent for the Covid-19 outbreak as a basis for comparison.) According to Lewis, during this outbreak, many African girls lost their chance at education; moreover, many women died during childbirth because of a lack of medical care. Mentioning these elaborations proves once again that not only coronavirus but also many other outbreaks have caused a disaster for feminism. Pandemics, in other words, pile yet another problem on women who always face an uphill battle against patriarchal structures. (Note: This passage ties this observation about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to a greater observation about Pandemics and gender roles overall.)
I started reading her article with a feeling of frustration. While the main topic of the article is feminism, Lewis gives a couple of male examples from the past, such as William Shakespeare and Isaac Newton. (Note: The author makes a personal note here, marking an emotional connection and reaction to the text.) She seems at times to attribute their success to their masculinity. They both lived in times of plague, demonstrating that despite all our progress, the human species is still grappling with the same issues. According to Lewis, neither Newton nor Shakespeare had to worry about childcare or housework. Even though her comparison seemed odd to me, she managed to surprise me that in over 300 years many gender inequities remain the same. This is actually very tragic. It is hard to acknowledge that women are still facing gender inequality in almost every area even 300 years after the time of these great English thinkers. (Note: The author cites historical precedent again: this passage argues that the relationship between plagues and gender roles has not changed much in centuries.) Assuming housework is the natural place of women without asking women if they want to do it is asking for too big a sacrifice. Since couples have the option to split the housework and childcare, why should only women have to shoulder most of the burden? This is a question that I might never be able to answer, even if I search my whole life. It is unacceptable that there is pressure on women to conform to gender roles, such as cultural settings and expectations. (Note: The author uses a rhetorical question to segue into a new supporting argument.) Women should not have to sacrifice their leisure time completing unpaid work. I agree with Lewis when she mentions the “second shift” situation. When we consider women’s first shift as their paid work, the second shift represents the time that they spend working in the home. In this case, there is apparently no shift for leisure time. Lewis also supports this by saying “Across the world, women—including those with jobs—do more housework and have less leisure time than their male partners.” Additionally, it seems like economic recovery is going to be long-lasting because of the Coronavirus. As a solution, if men and women have equal housework responsibilities, women may spend more of their time completing paid work. (Note: The author makes a call to action near the end of the essay.) In this way, they can contribute to the economy while they are socializing. Especially after the Pandemic is over, we will need a greater workforce, so hopefully both men and women can equally participate in the economy. (Note: Much like the first sentence of the essay, the last sentence speaks to a greater, big-picture context: the need for equality in a post-pandemic world.)
This sample essay was written by Gizem Gur and edited by Anna Mills. Annotations are by Saramanda Swigart, edited by Anna Mills. Licensed CC BY-NC 4.0.