This phrase brings up so many feelings for women. I found a lot of them to be negative when I've talked about women's work on the podcast in the past. I find it to be an empowering phrase. We are lucky in this century that (at least in the most countries) women can choose to participate in the work that has in the past been seen as oppressive. In my community of friends the work of knitting, weaving, sewing, cooking, preserving foods, gardening or making your household cleaning products from herbs you've grown yourself is celebrated. Maybe being of the next generation after the feminists that fought for these activities to be choices makes these words harmless. We can change what the connotation is now and going forward. I thought of this phrase today as I met some women in a shop in Paia, Maui. My interactions with them had little to do with the activities above, but I saw each as strong women that were doing what needed to be done to help others in their community. The first was one of three women that own a boutique in Paia called Wings Hawaii. She helped me as I looked for a shirt to cover burnt shoulders. She was so proud of all the local artists that they represented. While I was in the dressing room two of those artists came in to deliver hats and jewelry. When I came out she told me about how they are now sewing their own clothing and screen printing designs from local artists (I bought two). It left me with such a good feeling that I hung out a while and so happened to be in the store when a customer came in with a newborn. The owner commented on not realizing she was having a baby and the answer back was that she had just got her yesterday. That grabbed both our interest and the woman told us that she and her husband do short term foster care. She had a call the day before that a homeless woman had walked into a hospital, gave birth and walked out again. She was so in love with this little four day old that it was hard to believe it wasn't her own. She had arrived at their home with nothing, but would obviously be leaving with a feeling of being nurtured and loved from the very beginning of her life. These two women are doing what I consider to be "woman's work" just as much as the prior description. They are helping others and in doing so bring joy to their own lives.
I think it's time that we re-evaluate woman's work. And beyond that celebrate those women that choose those activities. Not feel sorry for them. Crafting isn't about not having money and there is great pride in building up others craft or being available for those that are truly in need.