My first letter to the editor, after committing to myself and publicly here that I would do my part to increase the likelihood of gender equity on the letters page, was dead on arrival.
The auto-response made me realize I’d left out the full suite of contact information they require to consider a letter for publication, and I didn’t have the capacity in that moment to resubmit it.
But my next attempt, which I submitted on behalf of the organization I work for, was a success! Rarely has any writing endeavor brought such instant gratification.
My letter was printed in the March 8th Book Review in response to a great review of a really interesting looking memoir. I wish my grandparents, religious NYT readers and devoted news-clippers, were still alive to cut this one out.
Here’s the letter:
To the Editor:
Emily Cooke’s review of Stephanie Land’s “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive” (Feb. 10) passionately conveys the grueling conditions of professional domestic work. But I wish to propose an alternate perspective to the portrayal of these relationships as universally between “underclass” and “overseers.”
In today’s world, with most people overstretched regardless of class status, domestic employment is increasingly common as one way that families are able to make things work — hiring child care, keeping up with cleaning, tending to aging parents. Yet guilt and anxiety, motivated by narratives of self-sufficiency and archetypes of the evil rich employer, prevent many of us from embracing the responsibilities and opportunities of the unique employer-employee relationship.
If we can acknowledge that we all require help, we will be more able to develop relationships and social policies that reflect our mutual dependence.
The writer is communications director of Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network.