All Hail the Washing Machine

A reminder yesterday from Badler that all conservative cultural critiques have reactionary sexual politics at their core. Proselytizing for suburban sprawl, Reagan administration veteran Ron Utt

was once quoted in The New York Times denying that the sedentary lifestyle of suburbia contributes to obesity. Instead Utt points his finger at the washing machine, arguing, "you’re fat for a lot of reasons, like the fact that you don’t do laundry by hand."

Hotpoint_washer_2  It’s just like a Heritage Foundation fellow to romanticize the days when soiled clothing was laboriously beaten with a paddle, scrubbed on a washboard, and then hung out to dry. It was women who did that work, both for their own families and as wage workers. And as anti-sprawl author James Howard Kunstler points out in Geography of Nowhere, it is women who so often get stuck shuttling children to and fro five times a day in our sprawling, car-dependent suburbs. The landscape of the 1950s all too often promotes the values of the 1950s.    

One thought on “All Hail the Washing Machine

  1. figleaf

    Hey Dana,

    Since I’m in the middle of Barbara Ehrenreich’s “For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Expert’s Advice to Women” it was a total no-brainer to follow Matt’s link to your page about gender in 19th Century France. That page isn’t a post I couldn’t comment there. I don’t know if the rest of your readers are exactly clamoring for more tie-ins to your senior work but as idealist/ideologues like Utt demonstrate, contemporary political discourse could really benefit from frequent, high-quality reminders that gender relations in the 1950s were *anything* but traditional.

    It’s fine if you don’t care to go there, of course. I’ve enjoyed all your posts.

    Take care,



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