A better way than this

Posted By on April 22, 2010

A cartoonist posted this in his blog a few days ago:

You know what this is? It’s a sculpture by Blake Fall-Conroy, the Minimum Wage Machine.
From the site:
The minimum wage machine allows anybody to work for minimum wage. Turning the crank will yield one penny every 5.04 seconds, for $7.15 an hour (NY state minimum wage (and Ohio state minimum wage, too–)). If the participant stops turning the crank, they stop receiving money.

I generally hate “abstract sculptures,” but this one seemed to reverberate in my very soul. I spent a few years of my life at that crank (granted, not working minimum wage), trying to wring out the pennies we needed to keep the household going. Now my husband is the one who turns the crank.
Granted, not all jobs are quite this bleak. Many people are able to make their living doing something they enjoy, or, at least, something that is not consistently monotonous. My husband works as a computer programmer, a “code monkey,” as he puts it. Still, most workplace jobs involve a certain level of cranking. That goes doubly for the kind of jobs in which working women often find themselves.

This is one reason why the feminist anti-homemaker viewpoint baffles me. They wish to replace a system in which the man returns home from the crank to find beauty, warmth, and stimulating conversation. They wish to end a system in which the woman spends all of her creativity, intellect, and strength in fulfilling tasks that make life for her husband so much more than ‘the crank’. They want to take her from her home and children.

Their idea of utopia is the man and the women both out at their own separate cranks, grinding away while the government takes half of what trickles out and raises their children for them. The feminist dream ends each workday when whichever parent finishes at the crank first having to stop and pick up his (or her) children from daycare, then to arrive at a cold, empty house in hopes of making things a little brighter for the sake of his (or her) mate.

(Of course, this changes the house life even on weekends and holidays. I see more and more women choosing to put their children in daycare on vacation days so that they can “get a break” and have time to do the chores. I hear them complain about vacations from school, grateful when their own children return to someone else’s care. You have to live with a child to know how to ‘deal with’ that child. You have to spend most of your hours in a child’s company to get into that child’s groove, so to speak, to understand which sounds of frustration denote hunger and which sounds denote sleepiness. But I am getting off the subject.)

We laugh at books and magazines written in the ’50’s that encourage housewives to fetch drinks for their husbands. There is even an Internet meme full of advice such as making yourself pretty when he returns home from work and not bothering him with trivialities until he has had a chance to relax. We read it and scoff about what doormats those women were back then. The next time you hear that advice, though, and the next time you are ready to laugh, I want you to go back to that picture and I want you to look at that crank.

That cartoonist’s blog post continues:

Picture that. Picture standing there for four hours, six hours, eight hours a day, turning that crank to squeeze out one penny at a time till you have enough to pay the rent, put gas in the car, keep the water, electric, wash the clothes, feed the kid, pay your taxes…. Your day revolves around being there to turn that crank. Your life revolves around turning that crank. Your precious limited time on this dear sweet earth is eaten away by that crank.

Ladies, your husband has spent his entire day at that crank. If you are a full-time homemaker, or even if you are a part-time worker, he has spent his day at that crank for you and for your children. He will spend tomorrow at that crank. He will work that crank until he is elderly, and he’s doing it for his family. If he is like my husband, he may complain about his work, but he never complains about the fact that he will be winding away at that or another similar crank for most of his life. That 50’s meme that so many women find ridiculous, the easy chair and the glass of his favorite beverage, the effort you take to look pretty and provide him with a hot supper… that is the least we can do in return.

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About The Author

I'm a homeschooling mom of two by trade, with many and varied side interests including homemaking, politics, religion, sewing, computer design/repair/gaming/programming, and writing fiction. I used to be a software engineer.


10 Responses to “A better way than this”

  1. ladyscott says:


  2. jodi says:

    Excellent post! This was very convicting!

  3. Mrs. Lady Sofia says:

    This post was very convincing, especially when you have the actual photograph of a person cranking a “minimum wage machine.” The abstract concept, in my opinion, brings the reality of the nasty truths of the feminist mindset in clear view.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to share it with my husband. I know he will like it. πŸ™‚

    ~Mrs. Lady Sofia~
    (Full-Time Homemaker & loving every minute of it!)

  4. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for this post. It was definitely convicting for me, but a great reminder of how hard my husband works to provide for our family.

  5. Wow–what a great analogy! Thanks for this post, Joy. It has definitely given me food for thought (and probably a future blog post, haha).

  6. mrs.tetrault says:

    oh i love this… thank you for sharing it. i love being the ‘happy’ at home… even when it’s tough. (i’ll keep this in mind this week… he’s been out of town for work, and i need to remember not to throw everything that i’ve had go wrong all week in his face the second he walks in…)

  7. mamalava says:

    Well, that lit a fire under my britches! πŸ˜‰


  8. greebo says:

    In the 50s, a lot of women had to work even if their husband was the primary breadwinner. In spite of hard work, the men’s wages were not enough to make ends meet completely. It was not that either they or their husbands wanted them to work. They had to pitch in. The teenagers worked summer jobs, too.

    Their job choices were few: secretarial, waiting table, sales, telephone operator, teaching, nursing, and some others.

    Today a lot of women are again forced into working because again times are tough and the husband’s salary does not cut it. But women are now able, *if they have to*, to choose from far more openings in the work place. They can enter the professions, engineering and the sciences, take high tech jobs, become executives, even work construction and drive trucks, if that is their choice. They may have to work their way up from entry level jobs, but there are many more paths away from turning that crank. Women might find themselves in the work place for longer than they had hoped, but at least there is some possibility of advancement, whereas in the 50s, there was far less.

    Whatever else you say about those feminists, they are directly responsible for that improvement. I don’t think you can equate all, or even most feminism with the desire to end feminine homemaker values. Some of them simply were and are working to open up the work place for women if women need (or want) to enter it.

  9. This is actually a much deeper issue than just 1950s work arrangements. Carolyn Graglia has ably debunked the idea that women could only enter low-paying professions prior to the sexual revolution. There were women doctors and lawyers and professors long before the women’s movement. The difference was that they did not expect the State to subsidize their choices with taxpayer-funded childcare or paid leave. They didn’t expect to have their cake (job) and eat it too (have children who would largely be reared by others). But there is something extremely important that history has to teach us on the whole work vs. family dilemma. Prior to the industrial revolution, work and family were fully integrated–and not just for farmers. The household economy model flourished in this country (and others) for over 200 years with wives and children fully involved in the family business. That is the model we believe is thoroughly biblical and most economically viable for the family in both the short and long term (see Proverbs 31). And it is making a comeback now, largely thanks to the Internet, which makes it possible for entire families to own and run a business together–and for children to learn trade skills as they grow up in a global economy. We do not advocate a return to the 1950s domestic model at all. Its consumerist economic model led directly to the floundering economy we have inherited. Much food for thought!

  10. greebo says:

    Thank you.

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