It’s rather amusing that the gender activists, misreading Roberts’s joke, consider it “Neanderthal” to raise the possibility that the work of homemakers might be more valuable than the work of lawyers. Or perhaps they think it improper for anyone, especially a man, to opine on the relative worth of vocational choices that women make. Either way, their position would raise some serious conflicts with the wacky “comparable worth” system of centralized wage-setting that they advocate, for that system, by its very nature, would require a comprehensive calculation of the relative worth of all the various job choices that men and women face.
On the question of the comparable worth of homemakers vs. lawyers, I have little doubt that the work of a good homemaker (whether male or female, if I must fake a bow towards androgyny) in raising the next generation of citizens is far more valuable to society than the work of almost any lawyer (whether male or female). That is certainly the case for my wonderful wife.
A couple observations from the great G.K. Chesterton come to mind. First, on the supposed unimportance of the homemaker’s role:
To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors, and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology and hygiene: I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.