Well, yes, suppose so

Before the pandemic hit, 2020 was going to be the year Melissa* went back to work. “I had taken four years off to raise two children and I was itching to use my brain again,” she says. “There are only so many nursery rhymes one can remember and only so many tantrums one can lovingly endure.”

Melissa was lucky. Despite soaring unemployment, she was offered a job. But the disruption caused by the pandemic meant her local nurseries closed and she was unable to arrange childcare in time to take up her new position. When she was offered a second full-time job, she asked if it would be possible to discuss flexible working and explained that she might need a little time to find childcare. The company responded with a one-line email retracting the job offer. It wasn’t until she was finally offered a role at a non-profit with an all-female team (and an understanding of her caring responsibilities), that she was able to begin work.

Even now, Melissa is under enormous pressure. “I work every second that I don’t have the kids. That means zero downtime for myself. I work until 10pm and wake an hour before everyone else in the house to ensure I can keep up with the chores. My husband is a wonderful man, but he has had to make zero sacrifices… He gets his downtime [after] the kids’ bedtime.”

The difference between their situations, as Melissa puts it, is “stark”.

She isn’t alone. While we have all been impacted in different and complicated ways by the unprecedented events of this year, reports coming in thick and fast from women to my Everyday Sexism Project, and other organisations and charities, suggest that the impact on gender equality has been massive.

A sexual division of labour in a sexually dimorphic species is such a shock, isn’t it?

Further, quite how much is it an advance in sexual equality if one set of women are paid to look after other women’s kids? Sure, it might be economic – perhaps one paid woman can look after more than one woman’s kids – and all that but how much of it is actually an advance in gender differences?

16 thoughts on “Well, yes, suppose so”

  1. I’m sure she’d be perfectly ok with being the sole breadwinner while he stays at home for four years to look after the kids.

  2. Don’t get up an hour early, leave the chores for somebody else.
    Go to bed at 10pm, leave the screaming brats for somebody else.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    Sure, it might be economic – perhaps one paid woman can look after more than one woman’s kids

    Perhaps she can. But at what sacrifice in the quality of care? Almost by definition one woman cannot look after two children as well as those two children’s two mothers can.

    and all that but how much of it is actually an advance in gender differences?

    Replace gender “oppression” with class exploitation? Children being raised by a minimum wage illegal from some Shitholeistan? Or the Caribbewan island of Santa Shitorama? Big step forward.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    It wasn’t until she was finally offered a role at a non-profit with an all-female team (and an understanding of her caring responsibilities), that she was able to begin work.

    A useless parasite

  5. I’m guessing that hubby thinks he’s doing all right, as it is his job – presumably not a 3rd sector non-job – which is really paying the bills.

    I doubt that taking a bullshit job in HR, PR or a charity scam makes up for missing your children’s upbringing. Certainly not financially; if childcare is required then these women end up working for chump change.

    Also: here are only so many nursery rhymes one can remember and only so many tantrums one can lovingly endure.

    ie I got a bit bored with my family… I wonder if her other half got bored of four years working his arse off to keep the family going?

  6. JuliaM-+1. Ok it’s a direct quote so that’s her perception and yes it was a very callous phrase. But isn’t it also worth noting journo’s not interested in popping over to hubby’s field to investigate the greenness of his grass?

  7. Bloke in North Dorset

    Women in that position aren’t interested in work, they’re after a hobby but need to kid themselves its a fulfilling job that is making society a better place. If she had to work to keep the wolves from the door she’d take whatever came along and find a way to get the kids looked after and no doubt her husband would do more. Cleaning jobs starting at 5am or after 8pm are the type of job you take in those situations.

  8. BinD, but cleaning jobs would be far beneath Melissa’s station. No chance she’d get off her arse and put in a shift when there are plenty of brown people willing to to the job. Imagine Melissa having to mix with brown people. The horror!

  9. Note also, that Melissa didn’t need to get a job for financial reasons, so if this isn’t working out she can quit. Could be that she & hubby have very different ideas about how their family should be organized. A bit odd the “he’s a wonderful man” bit if her life is so awful & his is great.

  10. “I doubt that taking a bullshit job in HR, PR or a charity scam makes up for missing your children’s upbringing. Certainly not financially; if childcare is required then these women end up working for chump change.”

    We ran the numbers. My wife was not a high earner. It would have been pennies per hour, so she stayed home.

    To me, it was always simpler, too. Man does the job, woman runs the home and kids. So, my wife was really good at organising stuff, getting kids to piano lessons and all that. You both knew what you did. To me, this whole thing of women working is just inviting chaos and stress, and mostly a waste of money.

  11. 1. If it’s too much, she could always go back to being a full-time homemaker.

    2. Maybe she should *talk* to her husband about his helping out and the ‘lack of sacrifices’ he’s making.

    3. I suspect she won’t do that because he’ll bring up the 4+ years where he worked his arse off while she kept house and that he brings in 2/3rds of their combined income.

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