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Wages for Housework

June 26, 1988

Instead of advocating wages for housework, Margaret Prescod and Phoebe Jones-Schellenberg (Op-Ed Page, June 16) would do better if they concentrated their efforts on increasing the education and training aspects of the proposed workfare legislation. In demanding that we legislate their morality, they do women a great disservice because they fail to deal with reality and encourage women to remain dependent.

Unfortunately, this country does not place a high value on the work women do in the home. We extol the virtues of motherhood and bestow praise on the self-sacrificing homemaker but when push comes to shove, we give her little recognition for what she does.

A prime example is the divorced homemaker. The court now demands that she "rehabilitate" herself (that is the word they use!) by getting a job. Since she has put herself on hold for years, she often walks out of the marriage with minimal earning power and, as a consequence, low self-esteem. Homemaking is perhaps the only job where the employee can be fired without notice from long-term employment, lose her benefits (health insurance) and have her retirement (alimony) controlled by her former, often angry, employer.

This should be a warning to teen-age girls (and any women presently in this potentially precarious situation): Don't wait for things to change. Educate yourself now and don't remain out of the work force for a significant length of time. Otherwise, you risk living your life under the thumb of your ex-husband or, worse yet, the government.

BONNIE ANN BAKER

Santa Ana

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