For men, capitalism meant escape ― from belonging to a lord, being tied to the land, and from rigid hierarchies. Now, they were free to sell their labor to whomever they wanted, without any moral or religious obligation. They relished their escape from feudalism, even as they found themselves trapped within capitalism’s employer-employee relationship.
But most women were excluded from even the limited benefits that men enjoyed. Capitalism didn’t provide decently paid employment for both men and women. The solution was to insist that women stay at home. A man’s wage plus a woman’s work in the home meant no mass of paid jobs needed to be available for women. Capitalists also managed to avoid paying for the child care that produced their future employees.
At home, women cooked meals; cleaned rooms, clothes, and dishes; repaired furniture; provided health care and child care. They worked like feudal serfs. Men’s lives navigated daily between household feudalism and workplace capitalism. Exploited by capitalists at work, men could, in turn, exploit their wives at home.