Gwyneth Paltrow recently decried the difficulties of her job in the entertainment industry . Apparently she believes that her life is much more difficult than that of a typical “office mom” and woman as evidenced by the following quote from her “I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening.” Though those in the entertainment industry are typically quite disconnected with what it is like for the average person watching their movies, this seems especially ignorant. The statistics concerning the average woman’s contributions at home and at work are still appalling.
Sheryl Sandberg spent a lot of time collecting statistics concerning women in the workforce and very few are positive. Women still do most of the child rearing, most of the housework, and now 40% of women in the workforce are primary breadwinners for their household . Additionally, they are only paid approximately 75% of what men make . Valued as only ¾ of a man, the average woman doesn’t get any of the accolades Gwyneth Paltrow does.
The average “office mom” also does not have nannies, maids, personal assistants, or spousal support in their endeavors to be mothers and successful employees. Fathers spend less than half the time mothers do with their children and male partners only do about 30% of the household chores. Most of these chores are “delegated”, meaning the woman is still the one captaining the ship and making sure everything runs smoothly. Most women consider “delegation” a chore as well because they are still the impetus for the home activity; without her pointing out the chore, it would not get done (in her opinion).
While the modern woman’s situation is much improved from the 1950’s model of domestic life, it still puts most of the responsibilities square on the shoulders of “office women”. In addition to the hours a mother has to spend at work (which let’s be honest, is no longer a 9-to-5), there’s also work to be done in the household, both before and after their job.
Millions of women have the distinct pleasure of rising with the sun to enjoy the responsibilities of waking, clothing, and feeding their children. After this is done they then jump in the car to take the children to school and get themselves to work on-time. At this point, the average woman has already been awake for at least 3 hours.
After the work day has gone by, moms jump back in their cars to get their kids, go home, get homework and dinner started, and still have not really had a moment to themselves. After dinner, the kids will be sent to bed and moms will begin cleaning. By the time the average woman is ready for bed, her work day has been approximately 15 hours long. Then it just starts all over again.
While Ms. Paltrow may be on set 16 hours a day for a few months, most women do that every day without rest for at least 18 years. They also do it without nannies or maids, and possibly without a spouse for some households. This is what makes being an “office mom” so much more difficult than being an actress mom.
The other big issue making Gwyneth’s job far superior to the typical “office mom” – money. The average household is living in the worst economy since the Great Depression . Money is tight and bills just get higher and higher each year. The cost of childcare has risen 19% in just 2013 alone . The cost of housing has increased nearly 300% and the cost of food has increased 200% since 1987. With all of these increases, surely wages have increased, right? Shockingly, the answer is no. In fact, wages have decreased 1% every year since 2011.
This of course is for the entire nation, but the wealthy – including Ms. Paltrow – have enough cushion and diversity of income to avoid truly feeling any of the inequalities experienced by the “office mom”. Most households report that the incredibly high cost of living decreases their ability to save more than $1000/annum. That means no Bahama holiday at a private resort, no nanny, no massages, no facials, and especially no down time.
Dubbed by CNN as the “No Vacation Nation”, the average American takes less than 15 days off per year because either their company does not offer vacation time, or the fear of losing a steady job is insurmountable. Either way, “office moms” are not exploring the world sans children in the Bahamas with their estranged millionaire husbands. If any vacation is had, it is a vacation for the children, not for the parents. It is doubtful that when Ms. Paltrow actually brings her kids on vacation that she does all the prep-work required.
The “extras” in life are what make the average American’s life so challenging. Situations like sick children, doctors appointments, laundry, dry cleaning, grocery shopping are all “extras” in the day that require a lot of time and energy. The average American doesn’t have money to pay for a full time French nanny or to fly in a visiting Italian chef or to have Japanese anime screenings, which are just a few of things that Gwyneth Paltrow has done for her children.
Sure,Gwyneth has to leave home to make 16 million in 4 months. The time commitment away from home would be hard for anyone, but very few get the opportunity to make millions in one financial quarter. Most don’t make that kind of money in their entire working lives, let alone for one project. If she wanted, Ms. Paltrow could spend all of her time with her family and never work again. Such income and opportunity does not present itself to the average woman. They work because they have to, not because it fulfills some artistic need within them; that is hardly the same obligation.
Gwyneth may truly think that she has it worse than most “office moms” in regards to her unpredictable schedule, and that seems to be true. But, she does not personally handle the day-to-day of being an adult or a mother. She pays someone else to do all the things an “office mom” does in addition to her work schedule. But hey, I suppose you can’t blame her for nothing getting it as she’s been quoted as saying, “I am who I am. I can’t pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year.”