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Did the feminists get it all wrong?


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#1 smtm

Posted 16 June 2009 - 11:58 AM

Hi Everyone

There has been a great deal of discussion on channel nine about the sixty minutes feature on Sunday, of which I participated in. On a personal note, good on the those shows for bringing in male commentators to comment on what is largely regarded as women’s business. I love how the media have turned out very well paid media commentators to comment on a situation that largely affects the female middle and low income earners.

Ok ‘A please explain’, what did I mean by my comment on the 60 minutes feature, Super Star Mums – ‘the feminists got it all wrong – what a croc….’  Well here is discussion you didn’t see, that followed this comment.

In my opinion, and its only my opinion the feminists did get it wrong, sure if your a women in a high paying position i.e. in excess of $100,000 + you can easily afford to have a career. Women in high paying positions working full time, benefit from the changes encouraged by the feminists – they can afford to have childcare, a cleaner, and all the luxuries that enable them to have a full time career, with money left over to enjoy. But the reality for most middle class Australians is much different, by the time you take out the costs of child care, taxes, the cost of a second car to get to work, coupled by the fact women are paid less or on part time income, there is not much left over for the average Australian woman who wants to return to work, is it financially worth having a career? Given this same woman will generally return home to start their second unpaid job, ‘mum’. It's exhausting to say the least. As much as we love our husbands / partners and they are wonderful in many ways, the cold hard fact is, they are wired differently to us. Most men, unless your lucky, don’t think beyond the first task at hand, where as we women, get home and have a long ‘to do list’, to tick off. Now read carefully I am not saying ALL men, just a majority, there are some very lucky women with partners who do pitch in their 50% share. But for the rest of us, myself included most of us are reminding/ nagging our partners about what jobs need doing around the house, or we are doing them ourselves.

So I ask did the feminists get it right for a majority of women or the elite minority, with high paying careers, who can afford the help. The men have never had it so good, women who contribute financially as well as keep house. Erin Pizzey, the pioneering women's rights activist, was on the money when she said in the UK Telegraph 30 Apr 2009, ‘women have won the war for equality but it has left many of them "imprisoned" and "exhausted”

Now sure the feminists gave us choice, but lets review that choice. Choose your poison, the guilt of being a stay at home mum or the guilt of going back to a career, either way you can’t win by societies standards. If your at peace with your decision, more power to you! Many mums are not, especially those who have to work - no choice there.

Personally I worked hard in Uni, when I got out, I landed a good position in a corporate company and I towed the feminist’s line moving further up the ladder, until I had a baby. And here is what the feminists didn’t warn women of, that is, just how hard it would be to leave bubs at home and go to work, when I did, it was heart wrenching – I yearned to be at home and felt terrible guilt – just awful – and then in the same breath I felt like I needed more mental stimulation, I had worked in a very demanding role and motherhood was not quite the same – I felt guilty for not wanting to be at home. It was a confusing time that I am sure many mums can appreciate. The mother of all guilt - compounded by the fact the my income less these new return to work expenses was pitiful.

Back in my day – we were all encouraged to do engineering, scientific subjects and more male dominated subjects. We were told, go forth and conquer, smash those glass ceilings, and when I started my family, I felt let down because I didn’t know which path to take, stay at home or go back to work to work for peanuts. This is why I sought to find a way to work from home and its what I meant on Sunday night when I said the feminists had set us up for a fall, it is very hard to know which path is the right one once you have a family, there is guilt either way as well as a financial burden to bear - of financial security - a man is no financial plan.

I wish career advice would take into account motherhood, and we somehow could marry careers and motherhood successfully, it is difficult to imagine at 18, when you are choosing your career path, how you will feel when you become a mum 12 years later.

Nevertheless I hope this sets the record straight.

But more to the point this is why I am so passionate about helping average everyday women find a better way to bridge the gap if that is what they want to do.

I am very disappointed to see that the media have missed this topic all together, there are many successful mums out there who have made it, via property, shares or have started businesses and have their own financial independence – may be these women are the next wave of pioneers. You only need to look at EB’s Business Mums Directory, and you will see there are many business mums enjoying the best of both worlds.

Do I agree with Sophie’s lifestyle as featured on the segment, or career women like Janine Allis, that’s not for me or anyone else to decide. The debate should never focus on who makes the right choice. It should always be about what choices are out there and what could potentially work for you.

Sonia Williams a mother of two, qualified accountant, author of

Give it a Go what have you got to lose?
Show Mummy the Money
Raising a Business
and founder of the site Show Mummy the Money, for mums who want to learn how they can make money.

This information is correct at time of writing. It is general advice only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal financial advice prior to acting on this information.

#2 tle

Posted 16 June 2009 - 12:58 PM

No, I don't think the feminists got it wrong.  They gave us a choice.  It was never their intention to make that choice for us - that would just lead us straight back to where we started when women were automatically expected to stay at home.

Admittedly I don't think we're quite there yet. It is generally accepted that women can have careers and return to work after having children but it's now the equality of the workload in the home that we need to work on.

I don't really understand your arguament that women can't afford to have a career unless they are high income earners.  Why are you placing the responsibility for the cost of childcare etc back onto the woman?  Surely this is a family expense to be shared between both parents.  Also, although the immediate $$ benefits may not be there, by simply staying in thw workforce, people (both men and women) are able to move forward in their careers and make it to those higher paying positions where it eventually does become worth it.

FWIW, I did try to do the whole career/family balance thing until I fell pregnant with my 3rd child.  It didn't work for me but I'm very grateful to the feminist tbefore my time that fought to give me the right to try. But, like so many other women I felt I was doing neither "job" well so together my husband and I sat down to work out what was best for us as a family.  We decided I would stay home for a few years while he started his own business (he's in the building trade) and that I would be able to run the admin side of it from home.  A few years later that business has grown to the point where we now employ 7 people and I make good use of all my studies (including an MBA) to run the administration side of it.  So, now I do have my career but I'm also at home when my kids (now 5 of them) need me.

#3 tamtams

Posted 18 June 2009 - 05:21 PM

I was very intrigued by this Story on 60 Minutes on Sunday night, I actually put time aside to sit down and watch it.
My husband and I are TTC, and I also have a 10 yr old DS from a previous relationship.

My husband and I both work fulltime and need to, to be able to pay off our Mortgage, Car and living expenses.

we are planning to have a baby and I only be home for 6 months then return to work as that is all the time we can afford for me to take off.

I would love to be able to stop work for a few years to have children, but unfortunately the costs of living, interest rates etc. makes it impossible for the average income earner family to survive on one income.

I was honestly amazed how the woman in the interview (who was a stay at home mum and her husband was a plumber)could afford to make herself look so nice and presented, That takes regular hairdressing, regular clothes shopping etc. Last time I got a decent hair cut & colour it cost $150.00!
Unless her plumber husband is on a good wage and their mortgage is next to nothing they must be doing something right .....or illegal.

#4 Sentient Puddle

Posted 18 June 2009 - 05:35 PM

Which feminists are you referring to?  The feminists who got us the vote?  The feminists who argued for equal pay for equal work? The feminists who fought and gave us the option of keeping our jobs after getting pregnant and having children or those really pesky feminists that agitated for law reform so as we could say no and mean no and make a rape charge even in the confines of marriage?  Gosh those pesky feminists are just one interfering amorphous lump aren't they?

Isn't is about time we stop the blame game and we get out there and agitate for more family friendly workplaces and workpractices so we can give both our sons and daughters real choices when it comes to work and family.

Edited by ILBB, 18 June 2009 - 05:37 PM.


#5 Guest_Assara_*

Posted 18 June 2009 - 05:44 PM

I think your article lost all credibility when you talk about men like they are superfluous to the situation. IMO the feminists are right because what they wanted was equality. This would be the idea that men could perform any role they want or choose to and so could women. One big factor in achieving this goal is to encourage men into seeing that they are accepted and capable of being a SAHP. You clearly say that men don't have those skills.  

I think the failing is not with the feminists but the archaic attitudes that even now filter through our society as is demonstrated amply in your article.

#6 mmumm

Posted 18 June 2009 - 11:01 PM

I don't think the feminists got it wrong, I do think we're not all the way there yet.  I do agree with the points you make about the difficulties of balancing motherhood and career.

Its a slow process but the world is slowly moving toward a family-friendly solution for both men and women.  More flexible hours, more opportunity to work from home.  Fathers being more involved, mothers being more educated.

I would no way prefer to return to a time pre-feminists.  They didn't get it wrong, they started the journey and its up to us to continue it.

#7 .Ally.

Posted 19 June 2009 - 08:46 AM

Great comments original.gif
QUOTE
Isn't is about time we stop the blame game and we get out there and agitate for more family friendly workplaces and workpractices so we can give both our sons and daughters real choices when it comes to work and family.

I totally agree with this statement. The way I see it - corporations operate in a competitive human resources environment. They should offer flexible arrangements to attract the best candidates, many of whom are certainly parents. (As for SMEs I think they tend to be more family-friendly?)

I'm not sure if the Government workplace flexibility initiative will have much impact being that it's not regulated, but it a step in the right direction and one I welcome.

I'm often told how "lucky" I am to have workplace flexibility (on train now!) - and I am truly grateful. But won't it be great if one day workplace flexibility is not a gift bestowed on parents? After all we give our time & skills to a business like any other employee so it is a two way street.

(I've been talking with journalist/author Gill South via email a bit lately, she's recently written a book about this subject which I'm very keen to read. her EB article Do you really need to work? is here with discussion in wdyt for those interested.)

Disclaimer: my personal opinion. yada yada.

#8 ArieleMoonfire

Posted 19 June 2009 - 10:37 AM

QUOTE
Which feminists are you referring to? The feminists who got us the vote? The feminists who argued for equal pay for equal work? The feminists who fought and gave us the option of keeping our jobs after getting pregnant and having children or those really pesky feminists that agitated for law reform so as we could say no and mean no and make a rape charge even in the confines of marriage? Gosh those pesky feminists are just one interfering amorphous lump aren't they?


Exactly. It makes me furious to read or hear women making derogatory remarks about 'the feminists' exactly as if feminism was one homogeneous group(which it's NOT)and seemingly being ignorant of all that feminisms have achieved for women.  Sonia I admire your entrepreneurial abilities, your writing and what you are trying to help mums to do, with regards to setting up their own small businesses. I am a WAHM and I think it's often a much better option for mothers (and fathers) than trying to negotiate the often very un-family friendly terrain of the corporate workforce. I agree with much of what you say about the difficulties of balancing a FT WOH career and family.

But don't bag feminism. If it weren't for the efforts of the first and second wave feminists women wouldn't have the right to own property, to vote, to have bank accounts in their own name, to divorce at will. There'd be no welfare payments for single mothers and no laws against rape within marriage and  domestic/family violence. If it weren't for feminism, we'd not have most of the choices, rights we take for granted today. Women would automatically be expected to resign upon marriage as they were in my mother's day. They would be paid a lot less for equal work as they were in my mother's day. Mum had a high up government job working for a cabinet minister and was paid a third of what her male peers made! This was in the mid - late  sixties. It frustrates me enormously when people just don't GET that.

Edited by CharlotteSometimes, 19 June 2009 - 10:38 AM.


#9 cinnabubble

Posted 19 June 2009 - 10:45 AM

OP, I think attitudes like yours are part of the problem. You embrace the status quo with gusto, making excuses for men not being equal parents. Society has to change, late capitalism has to change and we can't get that done sitting at home whinging about how oppressive the world is.

#10 ellebelle

Posted 19 June 2009 - 11:01 AM

Agree with all the reply posters. Don't get the whole Stepford wife trend that seems to be coming through via Gen Y now. Watching my Mum do any number of crappy jobs to pay for living expense because my parents split up made me determined that I would be totally self supporting. Have been happily married for 11 yrs but did plan since I was 18 so that I never needed a cent from a man. That includes the career, investing in property, shares and super. Would proudly wear the feminist tag anyday!

#11 soufflé

Posted 19 June 2009 - 11:45 AM

I agree with all the previous posters.  The feminists got it right and we have to keep getting it right to ensure that women and men are equal in every way in society today and in the future.

QUOTE
there are some very lucky women with partners who do pitch in their 50% share.


I also hear this all the time.  Why are they lucky?  Shouldn't a man contribute equally to the household he lives in? Shouldn't he parent equally?

I don't understand women who work and also do the majority of housework/child related care and do not expect their partners to share this load.  Why would they do this?  Because they are a woman?  No, we don't need feminism at all.

#12 Empress NG

Posted 19 June 2009 - 11:50 AM

Agree with all the above posters.  It is quite obvious you didn't study any history at university, OP.

#13 RillyBilly

Posted 19 June 2009 - 04:51 PM

I suppose, no, the feminists didn't get it wrong really.  They were fighting for women to HAVE a choice, whether it be to stay at home, go to work or do a little of both.

It might not have been an option before if a woman WANTED to pursue a career, particularly if she didn't want to have children.

It's the extreme feminists, who try to convince women that they are wrong to WANT to stay and home and SHOULD want the career and all the trappings just because it's now possible, who get my goat.

#14 Ninja Lemur

Posted 19 June 2009 - 05:19 PM

The role of men and women both within society and within our personal relationships are always evolving.  We have been given some huge legs ups with the vote, the ability to hold onto our job after marriage (my mother was legally sacked when she married), to take out bank loans without a  man's signature, to run businesses and to be in key roles without anyoen raising an eye brow.  Hey we can even have children out of wedlock without being stoned  oomg.gif

Rather than complain that what we have been handed is flawed or insufficient how about we say thank you very much pick up the batton and run with it.

Lets support men who want to be more involved as fathers (love seeing the number of men at school collection and drop off, lets applaud companies who support a work/life balance and lets negotiate a fair deal within our own families.  There is a long way to go before both men and women can make free choices.

#15 upup

Posted 19 June 2009 - 05:36 PM

I agree with you OP. Feminism has gone too far and not enough woman have stood up and said enough. I too worked had got a great career worked my butt off, learnt share trading, budgetting and property investment.

But honestly I just want to be a mum now and I am constantly asked about my career what a waste ect. Society is now based on mothers taking max 12months leave for kids. Families are struggling, marriages breaking up.

Everything is stressful. I wish we could just be mums, or have careers not be woman in a mans world. The only woman who survived post kids in my old work were the ones that put their lids second!!

Yes I want equal rights but seriously woman do "usually" end up doing paid and most of the unpaid work - those who refute this just havent read ANY study in the area.

This is a very quick reply will try to come back and add more and edit later.

#16 Ninja Lemur

Posted 19 June 2009 - 05:47 PM

QUOTE
Yes I want equal rights but seriously woman do "usually" end up doing paid and most of the unpaid work - those who refute this just havent read ANY study in the area.


Then why don't they stop doing it?  Who is "making" women pick after after their husbands, wash their clothes, do more child care etc?  How much do women (and other women!) place that expectation on themselves?  Do men decide that sheets need cleaning every few days or women?  How much can we change by changing our own expectations and not buying into a consumer socity that expects us to drive a certain type of car, our kids wear branded clothes etc.  For the record I am one of those "lucky" WAHM.  And no-one handed me that luck i worked bloody hard for it.

Edited by anita10, 19 June 2009 - 05:50 PM.


#17 soufflé

Posted 19 June 2009 - 05:57 PM

QUOTE
Yes I want equal rights but seriously woman do "usually" end up doing paid and most of the unpaid work - those who refute this just havent read ANY study in the area.


Which is the exact reason why it is important to keep working on breaking the stereotypes.  Women should not be doing this for the sole reason that they have female genitalia.

Women should not have to leave careers and jobs because they feel that they have a full-time job at home because their partners will not divide labour

If a parent wants to stay at home to parent I go with with that choice but if a woman feels she has to stay home because she is entirely exhausted by having to do everything for her children and her fully grown husband then I take issue with that.  That is not equality.  I have never heard a man say that he has to give up his career/job because he can't keep up with the housework, school runs etc.

#18 .Ally.

Posted 19 June 2009 - 09:50 PM

Here, here. My DH shares the housework, childminding, pick-ups, he also does all the grocery buying and cooking. We both believe strongly in gender equality. If your DH doesn't - great - here's your chance to educate someone.. and your children.

When my Mum retired from work she told my Dad she was retiring from household duties too original.gif (She did more because of the hrs she worked.) To see my Dad cleaning the bathrooms for the first time in his late 50s proves you can teach an old dog new tricks biggrin.gif (Just avoid visiting on Dad's nights to cook laugh.gif )

I think it's important we ask ourselves what changes we are making to continue the work of feminists before us. Sometimes I feel the pace is quite slow compared to previous decades?

#19 someone'sdad

Posted 03 September 2009 - 07:55 AM

QUOTE (smtm @ 16/06/2009, 11:58 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
... I wish career advice would take into account motherhood, and we somehow could marry careers and motherhood successfully, it is difficult to imagine at 18, when you are choosing your career path, how you will feel when you become a mum 12 years later.
  
Seems other people agree with this career advice proposition.  I certainly do.  Matter being discussed in the Hot Topics thread "did you think you could have it all"
X

#20 clairy

Posted 03 September 2009 - 06:09 PM




Edited by clairy, 03 September 2009 - 06:12 PM.


#21 TwistedIvy

Posted 03 September 2009 - 06:17 PM

QUOTE
Back in my day – we were all encouraged to do engineering, scientific subjects and more male dominated subjects. We were told, go forth and conquer, smash those glass ceilings, and when I started my family.


To a point I agree, and yes I am a scientist!

No one actually said, that I might not WANT to work when I had children, that the mothering instincts might be so strong that I don't want to be separated from the kids on a regular basis when they are such a young age.

And I gave no thought to whether my chosen career path would be conducive to raising kids. It's pretty hard to care for your family if you have a DH who works on oil rigs and you do scientific field work in the remote Northern Territory. Perhaps we would have 'succeeded' at being a double income family if at least one of us had a 'normal' type job.

QUOTE
I wish career advice would take into account motherhood, and we somehow could marry careers and motherhood successfully, it is difficult to imagine at 18, when you are choosing your career path.


Precisely!

If I could have my time again, I probably would have become a boring old accountant or something.

Edited by Angel and Boo, 03 September 2009 - 06:20 PM.


#22 kemisz

Posted 03 September 2009 - 06:26 PM

It's not that the feminists got it all wrong.

It's that when many women went back to the workplace, the economy changed.

It used to be very easy to be upper middle class on one salary.

With two parents in the workplace, the economy changed.  Now many couples NEED to have both parents working to maintain an upper middle class.

Feminists gave us the choices.  *I* made the choice to have a lower lifestyle so that I could stay home with my son.  I'm very happy with the choice.  But I'm damn glad that it was a CHOICE and not something I had to do.

#23 TwistedIvy

Posted 03 September 2009 - 06:35 PM

QUOTE
Feminists gave us the choices.


A very good point actually, so of course they didn't get it wrong.

#24 mummamia02

Posted 05 September 2009 - 07:00 AM

I agree that the feminists didn't get it wrong, but I understand where the OP is coming from also.  I think its is great if you are able to have the "choice" of staying home or working, however I don't get that "choice", I have to work to make ends meet.
I would much prefer to be a SAHM, or just work 1 or 2 days a week, as working and mothering is exhausting, I just hate the "juggling act".  
We are buying our first home soon, so this means I will need to work full time once my DS is at school.
And on our wages, there is no way we will be able to afford a cleaner.





#25 ampersand

Posted 10 September 2009 - 07:42 PM

Feminism isn't some kind of static, other entity. It's a movement, one that traverses a long period of time, and exists now.

As a movement, feminism is composed of the thoughts and actions of people. If you're unhappy with the status quo, then be one of those people and agitate for change.

It's not like a pizza delivery - you don't get to make and order and send it back if you're not happy.

Feminism didn't, by the way, promise we could 'have it all', that was the glossies in the eighties and, by extension, advertisers. Feminism fought, and still fights, for women to have the rights that go with emancipation. Rights and choices, that's what it's about, and what you do with your rights and choices is up to you.






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