According to reviewer Erika Mitchell,
Strasser notes that industrialization simplified many household tasks, from cooking to heating, from dress making to laundry. This enabled women to accomplish more in less time, but rather than reap the benefits of having spare time, she cites time use studies that show that following industrialization, women devoted the same amount of time to their housework, but were able and consequently expected to work towards much higher standards. As if this weren't enough, manufacturers also pushed women to fill their spare housework time by increasing their consumption activities, to take on consumption as a new household task alongside cooking, cleaning and childcare. But since virtually every source of income from women's work in the home had dried up by this point, in order to go along with the drive to consume, women needed to take jobs outside the home to supplement the family income. And that's why their work is never done.
It’s common in our modern society for people to let themselves be overwhelmed with the nostalgia for some forgotten past. Humans, after all, are always looking for the better thing and while some people turn to technology and novelty, others yearn for something more certain—dead but recorded cultures. This longing tends to cause reactionaries to distort the facts and even contradict themselves in pursuit of some idealized past.
While Mitchell says Strasser acknowledges that housework became more productive, women spent the same amount of time doing housework to achieve higher standards of living. Apparently, a higher standard of living really isn’t a good thing. Strasser clearly downplays the fact that a higher standard of living is the cornerstone to a prosperous society.
But then it turns out that’s not true—their spare household time was filled with “consumption activities.” I have no idea what “consumption activities” are but my best guess is buying stuff, something I’ve learned most females actually enjoy. I really don’t think manufacturers “pushed” them to do anything.
People always talk about the price of success or of opulence or of progress. The suspicion of genuine advancement harkens to fears of the unknown and appeals to misconception that the world is a zero-sum game—every gain is someone else’s loss. Paradoxically, while our ancestors struggled to accomplish economic success, modern society’s biggest problem seems to be accepting it.