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Monday, 18 May 2009

Burn the Working Mothers!

I am really really fucked off. There's yet another article hot on the heels of a BBC programme on working mothers which has once more sparked off a debate on working mothers. Notably the BBC programme is entitled The Trouble With Working Women. Not The Trouble with a 17%and Growing to 20% Pay Gap or The Trouble With a Culture that Seeks to Punish Working Mothers. As usual it's us selfish bints wanting to Have it All.

What is wanting to Have it All exactly? It's bandied around so much but all it seems to mean is a woman who simply wants some sort of existence outside the domestic sphere. And for most of us that means paid work. Most women work not to buy luxuries but to pay bills. One of the most infuriating nonsense that gets spouted about working mothers is that if only we were prepared to give up 'luxury holidays' and 'designer trainers' (anti working mothers are obsessed with this idea that women's salaries pay for expensive footwear) and if we just stayed at home, our children would be happier and so secretly would our partners. Which reminds me. Where the fuck are our boyfriends and husbands? Because whenever this subject comes up, it's a given that the Husbands don't do much round the house. Why should that be? Is it true? Sigh sigh - I have to do everything at home. Is it true that most working women do the vast majority of the domestic work as what - punishment for working outside the home? If this is true - the problem isn't work - it's having a lazy arsed husband.

The woman cited in this programme is is Rosanna Omitowoju, a Cambridge fellow. She has four children, a happy marriage, (maybe for him) a fulfilling full-time job and no outside help. She wakes her children at 7am, gives them breakfast and delivers them to three different schools by bike. “The problem with having it all,” says Raworth in the voiceover, “is you have to do it all every day.”

So where's her bloody husband? Why is it all her problem? If they both work full time why can't they afford a bit of help? And why is the media image of the working mother presented as so relentlessly negative?

This is the problem with working women.
1. The pay gap between women and men is 17% rising to 20%
2. The pay gap between part time women and men is 28%
3. Being a father is about doing your share - not 'helping out' when you feel like it. Why is it accepted with a martyred shrug that a working mother is somehow expected to shoulder the entire domestic burden too?

The trouble is not with working women. The trouble is with a culture which seeks to punish and shame working mothers and distract them from the gross inequality of not paying them the same as a working man.

And one other thing. I'm a working mother and I don't feel guilty about it. And if The Boy wants designer trainers he can save up and buy them himself.

This is why I work (when I'm not ranting)

1. I like to earn my own money so I don't have to go to my husband like a little girl asking for pocket money.
2. Very few people have a job for life now. Having one person bear the full financial burden is a very heavy one. Especially now.
3. What happens if Husband gets ill? Or leaves me? Or dies? How does financial penury make for better parenting?
4. I like working. It makes me feel like me.

Please can someone do a programme on working mothers where mum comes home at the end of the day, and Husband has just put the kids to bed. Mum says: 'Oh I'm so glad you've got the babies to bed babe.' Dad says: 'Well they're my kids too. Oh and I put the washing on.' Mum says: 'Great. Let's get a takeaway and have hot sex on the sofa.' They both have a takeaway and then fall asleep snoring. Now that's what I call positive parenting. And not a jot of guilt in sight.


LauraCassidy said...

very well said! I totally agree.

Jane said...

Grrrr Laura! On a personal note as my sister said to me once: 'If you earn your own money nobody can tell you what to do'.

Philip S said...

The anti-working mother band wagon is a media creation, fuelled by silly stereotypes and a fair bit of envy. I can't believe there are many people with experience of the real world who seriously disapprove. But maybe there are.
I love looking after my son, but I wouldn't want to do it twelve hours a day, five days a week; and I wouldn't want my wife to do it either. I prefer a better half who isn't frustrated, bored and knackered. Besides, Leo loves his two days a week at the nursery. At home with mum all the time, he'd be bored.
As for men who don't do their bit, they're missing out is all I can say. Small children are hard work, but the rewards are irreplaceable, and you won't get them in full if you're not there.

Jane said...

I agree with you Philip. Being involved with Leo now means you'll have a good relationship with him when he's an adult. It's so sad when dad is just a distant figure who can't name any of the child's friends.

platespinner said...

Hello. I've just found my way to your entertaining blog and this entry made me laugh.

I don't want to excuse the legions of lazy arsed boyfriends/husbands out there but the whole time I was on maternity leave and then when I was working part time I did the lion's share of the housework. This was despite numerous different strategies and attempts to get him to pull his weight. Nothing ever worked and I did wonder whether murder was an option more than once (only joking. Sort of.)

Now I am working full-time and my husband stays home two days a week strange things are happening. Washing is appearing hung up in the wardrobe. The dishwasher goes on without me having to ask. Best of all I haven't done the food shop in.... er I can't actually remember. I think partly it is down to simply not having the time. I always vowed to go on strike when I was at home but would crack under mounds of dirty washing and end up doing it (very resentfully). Now if husband wants to leave his dirty undercrackers on the floor, I don't care. I'm not home to look at them. And that might be the crux of it - he is. Finally he is starting to notice all the effort which goes into running a household. And now I'm not noticing things so much (things I could have cheerfully lynched him for too when I was at home full time). For instance he has a better handle than me on whether we have bread in the freezer and enough loo roll. It's made me pause for thought in any case.

I still do the majority of the cooking and cleaning and look after all our finances mind you so he's not off the hook yet, just downgraded to yellow card status.

Sorry this got a bit long.

Jane said...

Wow platespinner - an awesome response! Thank you for stumbling onto my blog and leaving such a thought provoking reply.

Product Placement said...

I agree with you Jane, I hate the expression 'having it all'.

I'm sitting here at my desk, knackered as I've been up since 6, missing my son who's at nursery, feeling guilty that I'm going out on a work lunch, oh and trying to surreptitiously scrape some congealed rusk off my skirt...

I do like being back at work, because, as you say, it makes me feel like 'me'. (And we need the money!) But what do 'They' think, that it's some kind of frickin' party?

Juxtabook said...

Excellent post Jane. Have you seen the Justin Rowlatt gaff Sophie should have brained him.

Jane said...

Yes I did Juxtabook - you put a group of women together and they're all secretaries! Thanks for the link. You do feel that with some guys - scratch the surface and underneath they're still Mr Neanderthal

Deborah said...

Found your blog through a search on the internet about working mothers. You are so right. Women kill themselves trying to live up to some image that no one can live up to. I was a stay at home mom for 14 years and did most of the house hold stuff, simply because..well, I was at home! When our roles changed & my husband's hours made it him that was getting the kids off in the morning and fixing the dinners at night, he stepped right up and took over. He'll have the washing going and the dished done too.

Jane said...

Thanks Deborah - actually the more I think about it, the more I feel the whole Mummy War thing is manufactured by a media who like nothing more than a good catfight. In the real world - dads are getting on with the housework and mums run off to their 'careers' ie a job, shouting instructions as they go.

joe said...

Jane and Juxtabook,

Regarding Justin Rowlatt's "gaffe", it wasn't actually - the women were HR, not consultants, as Sophie Raworth mistakenly says in the clip. So maybe she should apologise for jumping down his throat when he was making a sensible point, namely that it's unusual to find an office full of women in the City unless the women in questions are secretaries or HR.

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