Kali Holloway – Why Are Americans Overworking Themselves to Death?

Though it’s a flawed feminist anthem steeped in capitalist dreams and white-collar, middle-class aspiration, Dolly Parton’s 1980 hit song “9 to 5” still plays as an ode to America’s overworked, underappreciated women workers. There’s a certain timelessness to the list of grievances Parton cites: thankless; credit-stealing bosses; underwhelming paychecks for 78 cents [3] on every dollar made by male colleagues; killing yourself slowly to enrich corporate coffers.

If there is anything that might strike today’s working women as particularly dated about the song, it is the obsolete idea that a workday might be firmly bracketed, its hours assured, secure and guaranteed. In an era in which Gallup [4] reveals the American 40-hour workweek is actually far closer to 47 hours — nearly a day longer than it was 35 years ago, when Parton’s song was released— a bonafide 9-to-5 workday now seems almost quaint.

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