Monday, March 2, 2009

It is like bashing your head against the wall, because these women come out of the woodwork often enough for it to matter

It often seem that for every step forward we take ten thousand steps back. The latest book published in the ever lasting debate between stay-at-home vs working mothers is this step back to the 1950's voice of an american woman named Megan Basham. Her book, Beside every successful man - A woman's guide to having it all, not only argues that 80% of all women want to work fewer hours after their children are born, but that men and women's brains are biologically different in their way of thinking. "Women are collaborators", she said in The Guardian last week. "We have a more communal concept of success, and a lot of that applies to our relationships."

She also states that traditional marriage, ie, the one's where the wife stays at home, are less likely to end in divorce than those where both partners work full-time. In order to fullfill herself and to boost the family's economy a woman should stand beside her man, support him in his carreer-moves, help him write CV's and make sure that he has a nice, realxing home to come back to after a long day at work.
Needless to say, Basham's type of "choice feminism" has met a lot of harsh criticism.

Basham completely ignores the fact that housewifery has very little to do with about choice but is often simply a plain case of throwing in the towel. I am all for personal choice but I resent the statement that our society as a whole would be a better place if women stayed at home - let's just call a spade a spade, and not try and sex this thing up: women stay at home because most families who would like their children to have some kind of parental interaction during otherwise long stressful working weeks have no other choice since there simply are no compromises in terms of flexible working hours and affordable child-care.
After years of hard work in college and universities did we really have no other ambitions than to become our husbands un-paid PA's?
It is insulting to say that this is about biological differences (it is also a very weak argument to keep in those cases where the husband gets bored with his PA at home and starts sleeping around with the secretary at work.)
This is about it being 2009 and women are still being second class citizen's, and dressing it up as anything else is pointless. Let's have a proper debate on how many women actually stay at home through choice, and what we could do to actually to strike up a balance between home and real, paid work


  1. What makes me most annoyed and frustrated is that OF COURSE marriages where the woman stays at home are less likely to end in divorce - but she doesn't ask why. To me it is clear though; Even when the situation is bad, it is very very difficult to leave if you have no way of supporting yourself. Many women stay in bad marriages because they don't feel that they have another option.
    And obviously what society expects from us plays in too...

  2. Hi Ann-Katrin, I agree with you. We need to look beyond statistics and analyze all angles of the data.
    I say this over and over again, I believe in personal choice. I don't think there is one mould that fits us all. But women need to be more savvy. Any woman who choose to become a full-time housewife need to negotiate. They need to insist on papers being written and they need to know what they are worth in case they're marriage really does end before death do them part. It is harsh, and un-romantic, and takes the excitement out of the big day, but we need to look out for ourselves.

  3. Harsh and un-romantic, perhaps, but at the same time; When you marry it is actually a legally binding agreement that you go into. It surprises me that so many people, men and women, actually don't bother to even find out what agreement they are "signing".
    Going over the agreement so that you understand what you sign - and what add-on agreements you may need - should be mandatory. OK, I realise it sounds like I think marriage is the same as a business agreement but that is not what I mean, of course there should be romance and love. However marriage is something that may impact your whole life and as such you should have at least some interest in the details, not just the details of the actual wedding...
    But that's me, brought up to look after myself.

  4. I completely agree with you - we would read any other document before signing it, why not this one - and negotiate the best possible deal too!
    If more women were brought up like you, to look after themselves, I think more women would end up better off.