Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, people in power—the primarily white male business leaders and policymakers who set the standards, policies, and cultural norms for the rest of us—didn’t think much about home. It was a man’s castle. One’s private domain. What went on in the home, to them, was an oasis of family and leisure, separate from the vital workings of the economy. Economists even had a name for it: separate spheres (PDF). Men specialized in the sphere of paid work. Women were responsible for the unpaid domestic labor of home.
But once the pandemic hit, those power brokers, along with everyone else, were forced to reckon with what women and caregivers have known for ages: There are no separate spheres. At least not for women.