Women and Double Duty


From time immemorial there have been different roles for men and women in the society. There has been what is regarded as the feminine and the masculine jobs. The social set up for ages has seen women taking care of the home, conducting household duties like taking care of the children, cooking and cleaning. Men on the other hand have always been involved in more economic oriented activities like farming, hunting, working in industries and many other economically oriented roles.

Main body

Man has been the head of the family charged with providing economically for the family. This means that the men’s roles in the family have been economically inclined while the roles of the women are socially inclined. This traditional differentiation of roles has worked for many centuries and it used to create social, economic and political order in the communities. It was very hard to find a woman being the provider for the families neither were there men who did domestic chores. This state of affairs created peace in the communities because every one knew what was expected of them and did their best to ensure that they meet those expectations. However, there came a time when the social order that had been created by this differentiation of roles was disrupted. The quest for women liberation has motivated women to question the places and the roles into which they have been socialized (Sen, p. 111). The women became uncomfortable with their place in the society which they considered to be some forms of cocoons. They wanted to break away from those roles and places that the society had put them and assume a more economically inclined function in the society. According to the women, the positions that men were socialized into gave them an advantage that made them to subjugate the women. This is because the men were the economic foundations of the women and the women would not survive without the men. This economic advantage that the men gained gave them the leeway to manipulate the women. The women were supposed to abide by the dictates of the men, failure to which, they would be economically served. This is why the women started viewing the roles that they have been socialized into as some sort of an imprisonment. Their roles demanded them to be submissive to their men and this social status created by the differentiation of the roles was the genesis of gender inequalities (Humm, p. 56). The men assumed a superior position from which they would manipulate the women.

The continued suffering of the women led to their quest for liberation and equality and this has been championed by women movements for decades (freeman, p. 45). Women have for decades been trying to be liberated and have fought for this liberation. One of the way in which the liberation has been sought is through efforts to run away from the traditional feminine roles. As time went by, the women started getting the freedom and liberties and some of them started assuming the duties that were meant for men. The assumption of manly duties was meant to give the woman economic independence that would enable them to break away from the subjugation of men (Hinkle, p. 34). An economically liberated woman cannot easily become a subject of a man. Women today have attained a certain degree of the liberation they wanted but this liberation has come at a cost. One of the biggest problems that the women who have become liberal are facing is their inability to fully emancipate themselves from their traditional roles. The women thought that the assumption of manly duties would give them social, economic and political freedom; however, they forgot that the men would not fill the void that they would create by emancipating themselves from their duties. Men continued doing their work amid competition from the women. This scenario posed one of the biggest problems faced by the liberated woman today. That problem is called double duty. Double duty means that the women are now carrying out their roles that were traditionally theirs and those that were meant from them. The social Political and economic independence of the liberated women managed to free them from the dominance of the men but it created a new form of slavery. This is the slavery to the double roles that they have to carry out in the society. The liberation removed one problem and created another. Women in the United States of America, UK and many other industrialized countries are considered to be the most liberated in the world and one would think that they are happier than their counterparts in African and other third world countries who are still handling their traditional womanly duties (Hooks, p. 99). This is not the case because the liberated women are being weighted down by the double responsibilities’. They have managed to become the bread winners in their homes but they are still responsible for the traditional womanly chores like taking care of the children, cooking and washing. This means that the double responsibilities has fully limited their freedoms became their male counterparts have not changed their responsibilities in reciprocation. Where the male counterparts have chipped in to help by doing the womanly roles at home, the help they give is not enough to relieve the women of the self imposed burden. The failure by the women to fully emancipate themselves from their traditional roles puts a question on the relevance of the so called liberation. This form of liberation is not real because it has not yielded tangible results that can make the world appreciate their efforts to emancipate themselves. The involvement of more women in economic activities is a positive development that has even shaped the economies and the social structure in the countries that give their women equal rights and respect their freedoms and liberties. Their participation in social, economic and political issues has been more visible in many areas in the world and the respect of their rights and liberties can be said to be a very important achievement of the women’s movements especially in the larger American region and Western Europe. The involvement of women in important national matters and decision making process is one thing that has spurred development and peace in the society. Many countries are developing because of the input of the women.

However, the biggest concern is how the women have not been able to emancipate themselves from the womanly duties that they were traditionally socialized into. Their participation in matters of national economic, social and political interest is a positive development but this has affected their own lives, the lives of their children and even the lives of men. The effects of the double duty scenario created by female liberation and participation in male oriented fields have had very negative effects on the whole family set up. According to a report by the center for American Progress called the shiver report, more than a third of the American women are playing either the role of a breadwinner or a co-breadwinner and this has been partly considered as an achievement by the women (Bushy, p. 210). On the other hand, the domestic roles that they are supposed to carry out still wait for them and this is where the whole problem lies. The liberated woman has found herself in a tight spot. She has managed to become more independent authoritative and assertive due to her economic, social and political participation but she is being weighed down by the dual responsibilities (Hum, p. 45).

One of the effects of this double duty scenario is the rising child morality in many countries where the women are the breadwinners or co-breadwinners. The nature dictates that a mother has to be with the child for a considerable amount of time for that cold to grow into a healthy human being. This means that only a woman who is playing her traditional role of a care giver fully can manage to bring up children that are fully healthy. A woman who is splitting her time between the children and the providing for the family will find herself neglecting her care giving duties and this poses health problems for the children. Breast milk is very is very important because it gives children immunity from diseases. However, most mothers who are trapped in the double duty scenario either breast feed their children with amount of milk that is lower than required or fail to breast feed at all. This is a situation that exposed the young children to many diseases and some of them die prematurely due to lack of parental care.

The other problem that has been caused by this double duty scenario is the disintegration of the moral fiber of the society. Women are the ones that are traditionally supposed to be with the children, teaching them the social values, customs, norms, beliefs and all the other elements that are supposed to mould them into morally responsible human beings (Bushy, p. 213). The moral fiber of the traditional society was very strong because the women had time with the children and they managed to instill the necessary moral values that made them very responsible members of the society. In the modern world full of liberated women that are economically involved in the provision for the family, the traditional nursing role of the mother has been neglected. The mothers today are too busy outside their homes to spare time to teach their children the principles of social morality. The mothers are rarely with their children to solve the problems they are experiencing or to give guidance and direction and this has had an effect on the younger generation. The mothers have left this responsibility to the house helps and some of them are too young to be a source of any tangible guidance to the children. To compensate for their absence, the mothers are rewarding their children with gadgetry and information technology has become the “Modern mother”. This is exposing the children to all manners of filthy information and with no one to guide them; the children have been left at the mercy of the internet and the digital world. That is why the moral fiber in the society has totally disintegrated because the young generation is being involved in many serious evils and crimes learnt through the internet or through peer pressure. Children are involving themselves in premarital sex at very tender ages because the person who is supposed to monitor their behavior, teach and guide is absent. Whenever they are present, they are under the pressure of other pertinent home chores and do not have time for their children. This means that the liberation of the women where they have managed to participate in manly roles but failed to emancipate themselves from the roles that socially belong to them has wrecked an entire generation. The women may have gained the independence, equality, respect to their rights and liberties but the biggest loser in this case are the children who have been deprived of the primary care they are supposed to be given by their mothers as the nature dictates.

The other effect of the double duty scenario is decrease in population in some of the countries where the women have fully assumed the manly roles. The emergence of the career woman has affected demographic patterns in some countries. This is because some women are delaying child birth and some of them are getting their first child when they are in their late thirties or forties because they have concentrated on their careers at the expense of their reproductive obligations. Such a woman cannot give birth to more than two children and in some countries like Switzerland; most families have one child or two children. This is a very serious situation because there will come a time when the old generation will outnumber the young generation. The old generation is not economically relevant meaning that such countries in the future will face economic problems arising from the lack of manpower to drive the economy. The double duty scenario where the women are getting more inclined to manly duties at the expense of their social obligations has the potential to create future economic problems.


Finally, the double duty scenario had led to tensions within the family set up because the absence of the woman from the place she is expected to be has upstaged the world and social order. The women expect that the man will chip in to help at home now that the woman has also helped in the provision of the daily bread. However, there are very few men who are willing to fill the void left by the women and this has created serious problems that have even led to the disintegration of the families. Apart from this family tension, women are living more unhealthy lives because of the double duty scenario. They are experiencing high levels of stress and depression due to fatigue and family tensions brought by their dual service. The rate at which women are sucumbung to stress related diseases is worrying and the effects of their ill health and death are cause more problems. In conclusions, the liberation of the women may have brought some advantages to the women but their failure to emancipate themselves from their natural roles is dangerous to the family, society and the nation at large.

Works Cited

  1. Bushy, Ann. The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything. A Study by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress. Center for American Progress.
  2. Freeman, John. The politics of women’s liberation. New York: David McKay. 1975
  3. Hinckle, Warren. Women Power. Chicago: Ramparts 1998
  4. Hooks, Bell. Feminist theory: from margin to center. Massachusetts: South End Press.2000
  5. Humm, Maggie. The Dictionary of Feminist Theory. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. 1978
  6. Humm, Maggie. Modern Feminisms. New York: Columbia University Press.1992
  7. Sen, Amartya. 2009. Development as Freedom. New York: Borzoi Books.

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