After reading this article in the HuffPost UK, I really had to make a few comments about general equality. Society just declaring the matter of equality over with and brushing it aside is not solving it. I am a feminist. The dictionary type so don’t run away just yet.
I am one of those mums who has to stay home because childcare is just so expensive (it would swallow everything I earned plus a sizable chunk of my husbands wage, and I would have no quality time with my boys). Yes, it’s better for them but I am champing at the bit for them to be in school so I can do something that doesn’t involve the kids. Just once. It will not be like this forever (the knowledge of which is probably keeping me sane) but I am likely to have to start from scratch careerwise. This is despite my current experience and the fact that while looking after 3 small children I am working through a degree to make sure I’m at least semi-employable when the time comes.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore my children. My middle boy is saying his first words and my youngest is such a happy smiley little monkey I could stare at him for hours. My eldest will be at school full time in september so I will have a whole new lot of firsts to look forward too. That said, I have no wish to turn into my mother and I am temperamentally unsuited for this to be an indefinite arrangement. What I do is not easy and mostly thankless. My dissatisfaction is not helped by the fact my role in the popular press is portrayed as lazy or indolent. Nor is it helped by the fact that a not-insignificant proportion of mothers who work, or women without children, look on me as lazy and a bad example: an affront to feminism. Women in my position really can’t win. We get slated by all sides (apart from our own). I wonder what would happen if all the unpaid carers and volunteers actually got the social recognition they deserve instead of being sidelined because it’s not paid? (Society would probably die of shock.)
The point is, it was not just a choice made for the good of the children. I wish that it could have been so. We had to come to this decision due to what came down to a financial situation. We would be no better off financially if I went back to work now, than in my current position. In the UK, unless you qualify for free childcare, or have family onside to provide it, going back to work after having kids is a luxury few but the rich can afford. That is not equality. That is privilege. What we can’t contribute in taxes is made up in other ways and it’s about time we weren’t treated like a waste of space unworthy of consideration.
My husband took the kids to the park the other day and was asked if he was minding them for the day (when it’s your own, gents, it’s not babysitting: its parenting). He is proud of the fact that he is involved with the kids and he doesn’t consider his chosen part to be over and above what is due from a father. One can’t help but feel that the main barrier to fathers having equal recognition as parents and ‘main caregivers’ is actually other women and their behaviour (refer to yesterday’s Woman’s Hour BBC R4. Available on BBC iPlayer) or the reception men get while out with their kids. The ‘hands-on’ or even ‘stay at home’ dad should not be a novelty. It should not even be an issue. It should be down to the couple, and whichever of them (if either) stays at home, they neither deserve to be relegated to the margins nor pity. These are men not shy to be seen taking equal responsibility: the traditionally women’s role. (Tradition is just another word for habit and not every habit is positive.) These are not men who feel their masculinity threatened by taking up an active role in the care of their nippers and that should be the true test.
Free time for stay at home mums… (shock horror)
One of the comments after the article which prompted this post…
12 hours ago (13:19)
I’m told that women earn 13% less than men.
I’m a shift worker. When I go to the gym in the day it’s full of women. The car par is full of 4x4s. The pool is also full of women, swimming in flotillas, keeping their hair dry, and the ridiculously priced gym restaurant is full of women, lunching. Its like all the men in the world have died! And the ladies all disappear at 2:45 PM. These women don’t strike me as second class citizens. They strike me as the lucky ones.
All those women at the gym etc, that this guy is wittering about being ‘lucky’, were probably mothers with children at school and that is the only time they get for themselves. That is not lucky, that is them taking a well deserved break and no less than they should expect. Or are we supposed to let ourselves go to seed and spend all the time not looking after children, confined to our homes up to our elbows in dishwater, smelly nappies and his laundry? Some sort of social punishment for not being in paid employment perhaps?
Rudeness and ‘Real men’
The writer opened with a story about a man berating a pregnant woman on a bus, about equality, for expecting a priority seat (clearly signed). He claimed that he could have been disabled/elderly/ etc, the point being no doubt, he did not see why a pregnant woman should expect a seat on a bus. I will add here to those that really don’t get it, that when you are pregnant, your center of gravity moves forward and your balance is impaired, add to this far looser ligaments, and a sudden stop could cause a fall… I don’t think I need to elaborate further on that point. My point is that he was being disgusting and selfish and attempting to use ‘equality’ as an excuse for being so. Men (NOT ALL MEN, might I add, just the few who seem to think the rules of courtesy don’t apply and will use any excuse to justify it to themselves), who say ‘well you want equality‘ after being utterly beastly to someone as a means to justify their behaviour, are not ‘real’ men (This is also a gross presumption, as the lady in question might not, and who are they to declare what someone else wants, as if they are unable to work that out for themselves). Real men act with decency, empathy and consideration, regardless who is on the other end, and for it’s own sake. That is equality.
I am pleased to say I know a great many of such people (My husband (goes without saying), long list of other male family members (you don’t want me to elaborate, trust me), Al Stefanelli, Reap Paden, Brian Allen, Seth Andrews, Lee Moore, Justin Vacula, Hemley Gonzalez and many, many others) and I am honoured to call them ‘friend’. Those in a certain ‘movement’ (farce) with the atheist circle, would like nothing more than for the world to think ill of some of them because they have dared to stand up to the hectoring and cognitive-dissonance-riddled ramblings of a handful of people who think they own, lead and speak for atheism. They don’t, and these good men have more class in their little toes than the whole lot of the aforementioned crowd put together.