Domestic Technology

Another interesting article here (hat tip: Eclipse Phase blog), concerning the gender distribution of the future, and in particular its technologies, complete with real-world examples of the differential between the (assumed-male) public sphere and (assumed-female) domestic sphere.  And here’s a relevant paragraph for you:

One of the things that has frustrated me about science fiction is that technology pertaining to the smaller aspects of our lives is often neglected in favor of big giant rockets and exotic weaponry. Birth control seems non-existent and childbirth is still rocking the stirrups. And the home is at best not mentioned much. One of the things that “the future,” when we use that word as a metonymy for an idealized world in which machines solve all our problems, is supposed to do for us is give us time. Relieve us from work that is repetitive or unpleasant and allow us the sheer, simple hours in the day to do more. And yet, by far the biggest time sink going is the need to clean our habitats, prepare food and clothing, and maintain our environments. For those who have always had the, dare I say, privilege of ignoring that work, you simply cannot imagine how much time it takes to do all that and then turn around and do it again, often multiple times a day if there are offspring at play. Despite the fact that we here in the first world are supposed to have leveled up our gender equality stat, women still perform the majority of this labor, often in addition to a full shift outside the home. Fully automating this activity would free humanity on a scale that even the most awesome BFG can’t even begin to contemplate.

Now, the civilized polities of the Associated Worlds are not inclined to the strange kinks of humanity in this regard.  (Yes, the darëssef term for those who look after domestic matters – as well as infrastructure maintenance, repair, and medicine, but details – in the Empire is “hearthmistress”.  That’s a devil’s bargain with Translation Convention, inasmuch as it is unreasonably hard, although it’s still easier than in most European languages, to use English without dropping gender implications all over the place, there is no adequate gender-neutral term that fits, and “hearthmaster” carries all the wrong connotations for an English-speaker because English-speaking cultures come preloaded with wacky gender ideas. Sigh.  Nonetheless, the gender split there, as in most of the darëssef, is pretty close to even.)

End digression.  My point, mostly, is that I have a lot of notes in my worldbuilding wiki addressing this point, and concerning the plentiful domestic technology that exists, in re self-cleaning clothing, and self-aware homes, and preemptively helpful appliances and domestic robots, and any number of other things whose existence is very much intended to address this problem in the in-world sense, and yet, despite having done the worldbuilding on the various things intended to make the pointlessness of domestic labor a quaint historic footnote for actual sophont people, it hasn’t exactly shown up on screen.  (Nor, for that matter, to address another mentioned area, has the equivalent of the Bujoldian uterine replicator, but then, given the demographics, it would have less occasion to.)

I really should do something about that.  Maybe something from the point of view of the house

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