Queen Coal? Why Remember Women in Post-War Mining Communities
Negative Responses to Women's Roles
These extracts are from a sociological text book, Coal is Our Life. The academic authors have observed and interviewed members of the coal mining communities, and have interpreted the evidence to describe women's everyday lives.
It is for him to earn the money and for her to administer it wisely. Many an Ashton husband will be heard to excuse his escaping these responsibilities with such a half-jest as 'I wish I could swap jobs with our lass (the wife) Ė itís the best job in the world stopping at home all day.' If on a rare occasion his wife or one of her friends hints at the arduousness of looking after a family, the husband will jeeringly, though good-humouredly insist that they spend hours each day Ďcalliníí with their friends at each otherís houses. [ Coal is Our Life, p196]
Her lack of any personal means of spending is not the only restriction of a wifeís participation in social relations wider than the family. Indeed, in cases where wives are working, the wives earnings are invariably found to be regarded as part of the housekeeping money; thus, the economic semi-independence put within the reach of working wives is not grasped. In the first place, the traditional division of labour in the home decrees the household tasks of looking after the home and caring for the children are exclusively womenís work. In most cases the idea that the wife must regard home and children as her primary responsibility bars her from outside employment at least in the earliest years of raising a family. Many a girl under 20 will say 'Iíll be glad when I get married, then I can stop going out to work.' It is not, of course, only the social relations of work from which the mother is excluded. Leisure facilities for adults in Ashton cater very definitely for males, so that even if the wife escapes her household duties she has difficulties in finding opportunities for leisure on the same scale as her husband. [ Coal is Our Life, p202]