Monday, September 19, 2011

Ultimate Daily Fail line-by-line

Who would have guessed the Daily Mail would have leapt on the bandwagon of a new film to let women know they need to stop trying to have careers? Yup, me too. Here it is: Women CAN’T have it all: Two thirds of working mums would have to quit their jobs if they couldn’t rely on help from family and friends. Right, but as long as friends and family are happy to help, they won't have to quit their jobs, so then they can "have it all". Right?

And here's the line-by-line...

"In I Don't Know How She Does It, Sarah Jessica Parker just about manages to juggle a job in a financial market firm with being the mother of two children. But she does it with a lot of help from a nanny."

Oh gosh, already I'm angry. Why does she "juggle" a job and kids? Doesn't juggle imply at any moment something's going to get dropped? Couldn't she just HAVE a job and kids? Or even "be busy with" a job and kids? Know any men who "juggle" tax accountancy with golf and a drink problem? Me either.

"Many modern working mothers can't afford personal childcare, though."

Right we should discuss three issues here shouldn't we?
1. Why do we still assume the mother is responsible for the childcare?
2. Why isn't the government doing something to tackle the cost of childcare?
3. Why is women's pay still lagging a long way behind men's and what can be done generally to increase wages?

"Instead they rely heavily on a close-knit circle of up to ten close friends and family to juggle their busy lives."

Juggle! Juggle! Juggle! Stop it already! But yes of course every child benefits from relationships with a range of adults.

"Mums call on their support network, dubbed 'Team Mum', to help out for around ten hours a week as they try to fit everything around their office hours, a survey found."

Ten hours a week is not that much really to have your child minded by others. It's less than two hours a day.

"Their own mothers are the first port of call in emergencies, while friends, neighbours and other children's mums are also likely to be on hand when needed."

Do these kids have fathers? Or has the Daily Mail uncovered human cloning?

"The study, carried out by Tesco Baby, found that 67 per cent of mothers believe they would have to give up work if they didn't receive help from Team Mum."

Why are these people called "Team Mum"? They're actually helping the kids. Just like Mum is.

"Having a close support network saves the average mum £140 a month in childcare costs. That adds up to a saving of £1,680 per year."

Only if we start from the assumption that the mother has to pay personally for 100% of the child-raising costs. What about the value of the child-rising these mothers do?

"The trend was revealed in a study carried out among 2,000 mums by Tesco to launch its 'Help a Mum' campaign."

Yeah the solution is not government action or societal attitude shifts, it's definitely for a major supermarket to launch a "campaign". If Tesco wants to help working mothers why not have creches in every store and sell real high quality food?

"Spokeswoman Lorna Dickinson said: 'Mums work incredibly hard and it's only natural that they rely on other people to help them out."

They rely on other people? Does anybody think that the rest of the world maybe relies a bit heavily on mums? Like to do 95% of the child-rearing for us?

"'Juggling work, meal times, housework and various appointments can be difficult so having a trusted network of reliable people can make a difference.'"

Jugglers work at the circus. But let it be known that Tesco thinks it is women who are responsible for housework...

"The study found mums typically enjoy ten hours of support from their network of friends and family, but one in 20 women has 31 hours of help every week."

Mums ENJOY ten hours of support? No mums enjoy back rubs and meals in nice restaurants. The real issue is mums only get ten hours a week of support. Where the hell are dads?

"Two thirds those who took part in the poll said their own mother was the one person they could not do without, and one third of women said their mother babysits their kids while they are at work."

Where were the questions about the support by the child's father? Where is the corresponding survey asking how tough it can be for working dads?

"Tesco's survey also revealed one in ten relies on their mother-in law's child-minding skills while five per cent get granddad to muck in."

How can these women have mother-in-laws? They don't know any men! Except - we learn - granddad!

"The findings come after Grannynet (a website for 'grannies in the know who are looking after their grandchildren') strayed into helping with childcare."

That sentence doesn't make sense. Not that that makes it look out of place in the Daily Male.

"Midwife Sally Underdown is running classes for members of the website which support the nation’s 7million grandmothers."

I'm not sure all of these 7 million women are using the site.

"Underdown teaches nans about how childcare has changed since they first had children."

Sadly it appears what hasn't changed is the notion that women bear 100% of the responsibility!

"Tesco's study found 40 per cent of mothers said they were part of a mum's network, with most belonging to two support teams."

Stop press! Parents get to know other parents and childminders...

"Around 58 per cent said no one in their support team accepted cash for their efforts."

That's why it's a support team - not an agency.

"But half of the participants said they returned the favour by babysitting for their friends when needed."

Is this news? Really?

"A third of mums said it was far easier to juggle everything when you are a stay-at-home mum as opposed to being a working mother."

I sure hope the other two thirds said "fuck off with your stupid survey, I don't juggle anything".

"And 27 per cent said it was 'impossible' to do everything yourself unless they were 'incredibly organised'."

And what percentage said they felt they ought to do everything themselves? I'm guessing about the same percent as the percentage that take shit they read in the Daily Mail seriously.

"Pippa Wright, mother-of-two and blogger at A Mothers Ramblings said: 'It is incredibly hard for mums working full-time during pregnancy but there are online pregnancy forums if mums are too busy to attend pre-natal classes."

Good. Hopefully these forums will have links to the Employment Tribunal service in case your company discriminates against you or fires you for being pregnant or taking maternity leave. This is amazingly common despite being completely illegal. We should be talking about this.

"'From these forums, I met almost 30 mothers who, after almost eight years, are friends I still rely on for advice."

Woman makes friends with other women in similar circumstance. Stop press. No really.

"'The smallest thing - like a rash - can be panic-inducing for a mum so being able to know another mum has been through the same issue and will respond is a massive weight off your shoulders."

If only there were another parent with whom the mum could share her fears and discuss them. Ah well - I guess one day Daily Mail readers will evolve from asexual to sexual reproduction...

"'Several friends have had to move back closer to their family in order to get help during and after their pregnancies."

Yes childcare is too expensive, women's wages (and wages in general) are too low. I blame the government.

"'Becoming and being a mother can be a difficult journey but as this research highlights, support is always available and mothers and friends should never be afraid to ask for it.'"

But don't ask the father. Just get his dinner ready on the table and practice giving good blowjobs right?

"The study also found a third of women said the hardest aspect of parenting was being a good mother whilst also being dedicated in the workplace."

Hmm - what percentage of fathers worry about being a good father? I'm saying less. So really the problem is living up to unreasonable gender-based expectations.

"But the same proportion said the hardest part of parenthood was keeping the house clean."

And the final third said the hardest part of parenthood was choosing outfits that made the whole family look like The Waltons.

"Nearly three quarters of mums said it would make their life simpler if they had more close family and friends helping them out with day to day errands."

Their own fault for "being afraid to ask for help" I imagine.

"Lorna Dickinson added: 'It's fantastic that mums help other mums out - from babysitting to giving advice and sharing parenting concerns."

Parenting concerns? Like where's that dude who knocked me up?!?

"'Being able to take the weight off their shoulders and having people to turn to is precious and our Help a Mum campaign is all about celebrating mums who help other mums.'"

Not all about getting your brand name in the papers without the inconvenience of paying for an actual advert then?

What's really amazing here is that we have an 800-word article about the difficulties faced by working mothers that NEVER ONCE so much as even mentions the idea that fathers can take responsibility for their children or contribute to their care.

Anytime I write something about the pay gap or the rape conviction rate I get a bunch of angry "MRAs" (so-called men's rights activists) telling me that actually it's men who are discriminated against because they don't get access to their children (like y'know, just cos they've got a couple of domestic violence convictions or something...). Well you want to be considered fully equal co-parents and given assumed shared custody in the family law courts? Maybe you'd like to start by campaigning against this attitude in one of the nation's most-read papers? Get back to me when you've finished and we'll talk.


Gabrielle Phillips said...

I was a full-time working, single mum for 2 years and received working tax credits and child tax credits which helped pay 80% of my childcare costs which amounted to the same as my rent for the month - £650. The only help I received from my family was childcare for 1 day a week. Thinking about it now, and we all know hindsight is a wonderful thing, hiring a live-in nanny would have been at least £250 cheaper a month.
You are right on the mark with the 'juggling' though, Kate. To be honest, I never realised how skillful I was being, being able to work and be a mum, I (and a lot of others) just got on with it.

PaulB said...

Kate, do you read the Daily Mail every day? That would show extraordinary dedication to your readers.

Gabrielle, the more childcare I do the more I am in awe of working single parents. But you can't hire a live-in nanny for £400 a month.

Cruella said...

Ha, yeah most days Paul. Bit like the smell of napalm in the morning, I find it stocks my rage-bank just enough to fuel me til lunch.

And obviously I don't know the exact accounting here but I'm guessing with a live-in nanny maybe Gabrielle could have taken on more work.

Muse said...

Yes, as a full-time working mum who pays through the nose for 18 hours of childcare per week, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Attitudes in society haven't changed much - women are expected to look after everything they did before, and work as well. After all, we live in a society driven crazy by consumerism. Us women have to be such perfect "jugglers" in the numerous roles we take on ... your BJ comment made me laugh :-) Men should be more than just sperm donors but let's not go into the need for equal rights, equal pay, etc ... "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others." Good blog, thanks. I'm just off to join the circus now :-)

denise said...

Great article Kate. I don't have kids yet but these things concern me (esp the question of WHEN we'll have them).