Sunday, January 14, 2007

Stay-At-Home Mums

An interesting article in The Guardian by Elaine Morgan claims that corporations are dragging women out of the home, away from their children and that what may appear to be "progress" for women in the workplace is often no more than financial necessity. I'm inclined to agree. I think we should look first at the wage differential (still sky high) rather than at employment rates to assess how the gender divide is faring. Also it seems to me that while the women's movement has done well at getting women into employment (which suits corporates, since they pay them less anyway), we have a very long way to go on getting other members of society to recognise childcare as important, valuable and rewarding work. Stay-at-home Dads are still a tiny minority and childcare work is still terminally badly paid and poorly respected.

The other point that is touched on is the idea that the best way to raise children is in a tight nuclear family - married for life. Speaking as someone who had a pretty horrific childhood with my less-than-happily-married parents I beg to differ. State intervention can of course be traumatic when happy families feel they're being scrutinised unfairly. Now I guess I was one of those well-behaved don't-tell-anyone abusees but I have no doubt there were people around, teachers, etc who had at least a suspicion all wasn't quite right (the fact that I sometimes sobbed uncontrolably for hours at school, not to mention the fact that I got straight As in everything and tore out A minuses from my schoolbooks before I took them home) but no-one official ever EVER visited, checked up or even asked me if things were ok. I don't think that family is "sacred" and needs protecting, I think society has to be open and support individuals rights - particularly those who cannot protect themselves.


Christina S said...

I've been, primarily, a stay at home mum for the past ten years now. I think one of the hardest things about it is that people don't value it. I have been at parties where people look very blank when I tell them "I'm a full time mother and domestic engineer" lol, and I often get, "But what *did* you do, before that?" as though only a career will do to define me. And there are people who say things like: "Oh, you're at home with kids, you could write a novel or something!" :-S OR "Why don't you take an open university course while you're not working" :-S. Then sometimes I've been guilty of devaluing it myself, by feeling ashamed, feeling inadequate ... why?! Bringing up kids has probably been one of the most challenging, hardest, longest, mentally toughest things I've ever done!

Cruella said...

Absolutely Ruby, and you know how much the government respects child-raising as an occupation? The longer you do it for the less likely you are to be eligible for a full state pension! And as long as there's no respect for the role, unsurprisingly, it's pretty hard to get men interested in the job.