glitzfrau: (kill your gender)
[personal profile] glitzfrau
(Note: I know that Sunday evening is a dead time to post, but I won't have a chance again before Tuesday. And my rage will not wait that long.)

Yesterday's Guardian carried a piece with the arresting title, £26,000: the salary you need just to cover childcare. The article continued, The British pay more for childcare than anywhere else in the world – and planned cuts in tax credits will discourage women from returning to work. It had me in rage all afternoon. Rage, firstly, because childcare in Britain is so damned expensive, and the Tories have let slip that they have no interest whatever in making it easier for mothers to return to work, for after all would they not be better off at home minding the kids in classic 1950s fashion. Rage that the government are once again cutting tax credits in a way that hurts the poorest most. It is not an appealing choice that the Guardian outlines for a single mother on the minimum wage, that of either being trapped at home on benefits or working to sink further into debt; if this government is working on the nudge principle rather than the choice principle, it's clear which way the poor are being nudged, no matter what rhetoric they may have about making work pay.

And then there's the question of how hard it is for a woman to earn £26k and above, even in London, which is where that cost is calculated. I earn well over that, but I have a background of rock-solid middle class privilege, three degrees and - crucially - I am in my mid-thirties. Most heterosexual women have children far before they reach my age. Their chances of earning over £26k are eroded by education, expectations (do what you love, not what's mercenary! do caring feminine work, not mathsy managerial manly work!), and missing out on the crucial career- and income- building years between 25 and 35 if they have children in that window. Median earnings for women aged 30-39, according to the UK National Statistics Agency, are £25896 - almost exactly the cost of childcare for two children in London. Median earnings for women outside of this golden age group are £22152, far below this cost.

But it's not even this that enrages me. I come from Ireland, where child care is just as prohibitively expensive. We know that neither Ireland nor the UK has been prepared to fund childcare via the State in any meaningful way. And we know that the Tories hate women and want them to stay barefoot and pregnant, or possibly pregnant and fragrant. That's not news. What's horrifying, in an insidious, creeping way, is the tone the Guardian takes on the story: if women don't earn above the magic £26k, they might as well give up their jobs. Depressingly, their reasoning for doing so is clear: 'While childcare should be seen as the responsibility of both parents in a double-income household, in reality, the mother's wage is often weighed against the costs.' The article continues, and here is where the real poison lies:
Of course, there are long-term career, monetary and psychological benefits. These include payments into pension plans; the security of a job that will be worth more once the preschool stage is over, and which can hopefully be retained in a recession; and a sense of identity beyond motherhood [...] But when totting up childcare costs [...] these may not come into play.

Avoiding the depressingly frequent trap of female poverty in old age? Building financial security and a meaningful career? Having a strong sense of self beyond the biological function of motherhood? I always thought these were among the core goals of feminism, but no, they don't really count. Women's paid work isn't really meaningful, in the way that men's paid work is; women's work is only ever set against that of a nursery nurse, and no matter what the skills a woman might learn in the workplace while her children are in childcare, what good she might achieve at work, what pension contributions she might make for an independent old age, what promotions she might attain, what a social network she might build up, these are all irrelevant if her salary is less than the cost of childcare. The government says so, the heterosexual couples interviewed appear to say so, and most depressingly, the bastion of left-wing journalism, the Guardian says so. Women don't have careers, they just have jobs for pin-money, and mothering is always the most suitable career for them really.

I think this is massively dangerous. Dropping out of the workforce puts women at risk of poverty in old age, of unemployability if they return to work after a long career gap, makes them dependent on a male partner who may very well become ill, lose his job or leave her, and tells her that a sense of identity outside the home is a frivolous luxury. Why are feminists not screaming about these very real risks, and the dangerous media culture that is promoting them - as well as the government who is exacerbating them? It's this silence that causes me to lose patience with young feminists on the The F Word, who frequently put issues of body image and sex work above those of female poverty, and above all with Laurie Penny, with her talk about how her generation of young women has been uniquely abandoned and isolated by older feminists, whose work is irrelevant to their realities. Younger sisters, wake up! These risks - of poverty, unemployment and erasure of identity - are yours as much as they are ours. Rape culture and poverty in old age, misogynist advertising and the glass ceiling, sexual liberation and economic agencies - these aren't issues that exist in isolation from each other, they are part of a whole patriarchal matrix. A little intergenerational solidarity is required, if we are ever to fight back.

And finally, the obvious disclaimer: I know that women choose to work as mothers for lots of very good reasons. This rant is not intended to attack those choices; it is to point out that it is a choice, and a choice made in a patriarchal context, a choice that has consequences like any other, rather than the natural destiny of women in the Big Society.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 05:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daegaer.livejournal.com
Argh! Yes!

Dropping out of the workforce puts women at risk of poverty in old age


Those politicians who are busily making it difficult for women with children to work outside the home, are they salting money away to support elderly women who outlive their breadwinning partners? Somehow I doubt it.


of unemployability if they return to work after a long career gap, makes them dependent on a male partner who may very well become ill, lose his job or leave her

This is what my sister-in-law has ended up in after a career gap she didn't actually want to take (during which my nephew arrived, but he was not the reason for the gap). Now they're depending on my brother's salary, they're worried about making ends meet in the new year due to various medical concerns, and my brother has already had major health scares. It's very worrying, and so frustrating that she is forced into the stay-at-home role.

Edited for html fail.
Edited Date: 2010-12-05 05:21 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 07:32 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (hazel)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
Oh, that is a very worrying story. I am so sorry that your sister in law is stuck in this way - and of course for the knock-on effects for the EG and Vista.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 09:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daegaer.livejournal.com
It's so stressful! She was meant to have work in the states which her potential employers reneged on, then everyone else acted like she was a housewife there purely on my brother's visa, then what with Vista and all the personal tragedy thereafter, it's just been an employment nightmare. Argh.

(At least Vista is enormous and healthy, and apparently is fulfilling his destiny as a little monster).

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tafagirl.livejournal.com
There was an article in taz a while ago which mentioned that the average time taken out of work after the birth of a first child was *16 years* for German women in specific professions (teaching and?)!

I'm very split on this issue but I know I find Germany cray-zay, so many women have no childcare options for the first three years and are expected to stay home. And then there's Holland where women have to return to work after 3 months and institutionalised care is the norm for 3-month old infants. Apparently, the "baby rooms" of those daycares are often staffed by jobbing students, huge turnover rate, no stable caregivers. Taking time out for more than 3 months is only possible with the agreement of the employer, without pay (and child support is 1/3 of Germany's level) and while risking their jobs as temporary contracts are the norm.
I know so little about CZ yet but apparently 1.5 years is the norm here, and jobs are held? Sounds like a middle ground maybe?

Sorry, that long reply was unplanned!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 07:30 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (linke emanze)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
Sixteen years?! No wonder 40% of women with degrees never have children. Whoa.

East Germany is still better than West Germany for child care, actually - but yes, it's rotten. And it's not just the first three years, either, it's the half-day school that follows a very late Einschulung that also causes childcare problems. However, the problem is the same: why is it the woman who has to give up her career and jump in where the State won't provide? Why shouldn't she go back to work when it's best for her, and pay for child care out of her wages, with the husband making up the rest of the pay if her wage won't cover the costs?

That's fascinating to hear about the stark difference between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. Neither solution sounds entirely ideal, if it's the woman who is left entirely responsible for the early years childcare. Do men take 3 months paternity leave in the Netherlands as well? I really like von der Leyen's move to make extended maternity leave contingent on paternity leave being taken, and think it should be adopted across Europe as a whole.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 08:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tafagirl.livejournal.com
Sixteen years?! No wonder 40% of women with degrees never have children. Whoa.

According to the article it's women working in professions that are either stressful (teaching) or offer little outside mind-numbing routine (seamstress) who stay at home long-term.

Do men take 3 months paternity leave in the Netherlands as well

Ha! Fathers get two days of "birth leave", not available to female partners of birthing women btw. There is no other parental leave, and officially maternity leave is for recuperation, not for parenting. Which is why adoption leave is only a third, four weeks. But at least that's available to both men and women. Really, in many ways it's the worst of all worlds.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 12:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thineownself.livejournal.com
Norway already seems to have gone a big step towards that -I think it's 10 weeks minimum mandatory parental leave for fathers there. A friend of mine is married to a Norwegian, and hearing this, as a West German where working mothers still fight all this "you are a cruel monster risking your child's mental health" idiocy, I briefly considered emigration to Scandinavia. (*)
In Poland (and East Germany, for that matter), people seemed far more used to the concept of working mothers. However, this didn't seem to mean "shared parental duties" or "shared household chores", so I'm not sure it's all that ideal.

(*) Of course, if you choose not to have children, you are also portrayed as an unfeeling monster.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 06:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] unav.livejournal.com
You have very articulated many of the issues that both enrage and frighten me when I read those sort of statistics. Thank you. (I've completely given up on the newspapers though).

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 07:25 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (linke emanze)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
Avoiding the papers is probably the wiser and more healthy choice, mind. But thank you, back.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 07:01 pm (UTC)
ext_9215: (Default)
From: [identity profile] hfnuala.livejournal.com
I don't disagree with this and it often keeps my unemployed self up at night when the 10 month old doesn't, but I think what is missing in your analysis is the actual children, who reward time spent with them in ways work often doesn't. The rational choice in the UK is obvious but the costs are silent and kept within the house. I'm not saying 'full time' child care is bad, because I don't believe that but I do believe that when I was working full time I wasn't as good a parent. Probably still a good enough parent but I'm happier about my parenting now. Of course, I'm not working and still use childcare so I'm bad from all sides.

I'm still aiming for a both parents working part time, part time good quality childcare and happy children set up but it is hard - part time jobs that pay as well (pro rata) as full time jobs are rare outside of the voluntary sector and that sector is taking a massive kicking at the moment.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 07:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] biascut.livejournal.com
I think what is missing in your analysis is the actual children, who reward time spent with them in ways work often doesn't

Yes, but apparently only for women. That's what always gets me: the assumption is that for women, looking after their children offers so much, which either compensates for the lost earnings/wealth/security, or which makes working outside the home seem by far the worse option. Which I can totally believe: for some women. But I don't believe that it offers so much reward for (the assumed vast majority of) women, but not for (the assumed vast majority of) men. As you're obviously aware, your family is still very much in the minority!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chiller.livejournal.com
It also needs to be acknowledged that some women find being at home with a small child to be a pretty awful experience, abiding love for their child notwithstanding. Of the very few women I know who have children (and I know none who don't adore their children), I know two who are driven almost to the point of genuine madness by the combination of boredom, isolation from adult/non-baby-related conversation, and of always having to be "on", because they are dealing with one or more small children without a break, all day, every day - and add to that experience the intense guilt for feeling that way.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 08:21 pm (UTC)
ext_9215: (Default)
From: [identity profile] hfnuala.livejournal.com
Absolutely, I agree with you there - childcare is a parents problem, not a women's problem. Sadly, Alex is unusual in that he was happy to go part time and it annoys me how much strokes he gets for it, compared to the part time women in our area. What said, he isn't alone at our nursery, so I think this is changing for some jobs at some class points (by which I mean, we live in a slightly boho area so the men who work less than full time hours do knowledge worker jobs like FE college lecturer, BBC reporter, hotel manager and not full on professional jobs which still don't offer part time jobs for men.)

I guess what bothers me with the long term financial cost analysis is it ends up being another criticism of women's choices (I read the debate (not this post!) as 'why are women making choices that affect their long term financial stability negatively?') instead of asking why financial stability is so dependent on staying for 40 years with a wife shaped person at home to look after the kids. Or not having kids, which again is a choice about other things, not economics.

Also, humans don't really work like that - we can't make decisions based on 20 years in the future. We can rationalise what decisions we want to make anyway based on these things but they don't really feed into the decision. Which is why good childcare, etc, etc will only work so far in changing the choices women make. I hate to say this, but some of the things the Tories are saying about changing how state pensions work and how benefits work are actually exciting to me as they seem like they might actually help with some of these problems. But, as ever, the devil is in the details.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 07:21 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (linke emanze)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
Yes, that definitely does make sense. Absolutely - and obviously I can't speak about the reward that time spent with children brings. But that's not a factor that the article takes into account. It argues purely from a financial perspective which I find fundamentally flawed.

I think your idea that the costs of childcare are 'silent and kept within the house' is really interesting. I haven't read deeply on the literature surrounding the effects of childcare on children, but objective research is one thing, subjective experience another and very valuable one. Also, obv., you are not bad from any side - my post isn't about any horrid 'mommy wars', but about society's attack on women from all angles. How come men aren't expected to benefit immaterially from time spent with children, or drop their drudge jobs for the emotional richness of parenting? (<- rhetorical question asked of society, not of you.)

However, I would still maintain that poverty is still a massive risk for children, and that the outcomes for a child in a workless household are likely to be bad, no matter what the quality of parenting they receive. That risk isn't mentioned in the article either.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 08:33 pm (UTC)
ext_9215: (Default)
From: [identity profile] hfnuala.livejournal.com
Sorry, I didn't think you were doing mommy wars, I was just being defensive because I was kinda speaking from the stay at home POV, even though that's not really where I see myself sitting long term. In my mind I'm still on maternity leave.

I think what I'm trying to say is no one ever says to themself 'I'm going to drop out of the workforce' They look at what they need, what their kids need and choose the right then least worse choice. And then once they've done that the institutional shit starts kicking in and make things harder. In theory the modern career is suppose to be more DIY but the reality it is hard to do that without capital. Anyway, I'm trying not to be defensive here and I do agree that simplistic analysis doesn't help.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 07:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chiller.livejournal.com
I assume you're aware of this.

But basically, yes. The overriding impression is that, given a choice, women don't want a career, they work out of pure financial necessity, and if, therefore, they earn less than the childcare costs there is no point in working. Whereas of course a lot of women are forced to stop working for that reason (it is cheaper for the couple if she stays at home, and unless her partner earns enough to pick up the difference it may become financially impossible for a woman to work).

I am utterly bone-weary of the combination of hatred and disregard of women that is endemic in virtually every aspect of modern society, and the boneless and misdirected kvetching that passes for feminist discussion in so many places. I'm sorry, but sex work in a society which ascribes value to women precisely based on how sexually available they are to men is NEVER going to be empowering. Let's get over that and talk about the issues that affect the women who aren't, officially, sex workers, but whose financial security and wellbeing is STILL predicated on who they're prepared to sleep with.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 07:24 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (executive lesbian from sinsense)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
I am aware of and am DELIGHTED by the Fawcett society action! I also note that it is informed by the work of an older, working feminist mother, Yvette Cooper.

And basically, yes. It's even worse than 'women don't want a career, they work out of pure financial necessity' - it's also 'women's poverty as a result of the long-term hit to their earnings and pension taken by time off work doesn't matter'. Or 'women's complete financial dependency on a man who may become controlling or violent doesn't matter.'

So amen to your final paragraph, is all I can say. Absolutely.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 07:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chiller.livejournal.com
I'm desperately hopeful (and yet not) (and yet, oh, I am though) about the outcome from Fawcett's action on the 6th.

The same people who consider women's work to be unimportant will be the very people who trot out "benefit scroungers and bla bla single mothers [insert overtone of Victorian disapproval]" with utter disregard for the reasons many women become single mothers, or the long term financial gin-trap they find themselves in, if they do. I am aware I'm preaching to the choir, here. But dear god, the sweet relief of being able to say this without having to immediately defend it.

/edit typo
Edited Date: 2010-12-05 07:55 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 09:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the0lady.livejournal.com
A big YES to everything you write! And since this is not a locked post, I may link to it if I ever get around to writing my long overdue "The Tories Hate You!" blog post - if that's OK?

I think where I do connect with Laurie Penny and other young femonists though is that their discourse attacks the same base issue from a different angle: it's not only that women's economic wellbeing doesn't matter, or that their sexual and psychological wellbeing doesn't matter, it's that WOMEN don't matter. The political and personal rights of women act in practice as a bargaining chip to be thrown into the pile where political compromise is needed: this is visible in things like winking at Karzai's legalisation of marital rape, or abortion rights being explicitly sacrificed for the possibility of healthcare reform in the US.

It's a larger scale mechaninsm in which women are collectively bought and sold like handmaidens (hah!) to further the selfish agendas of the patriarchy. Extreme and increasing sexualisation when young serves to depress our feeling of sekf worth so as to make it easier to sell the idea of self abnegation in the home and the workplace at a later stage in life, and both underpin the vicious circle of the enslavement and oppression of women.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 10:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] biascut.livejournal.com
I don't at all disagree with links between the beauty economy and women's working role, but I don't think Laurie Penny is making that argument because she's twenty-three and things like having children and having to face career versus work compromises aren't on her radar - just as they weren't on mine when I was twenty-three. So I keep reading Laurie Penny's articles and thinking, "Do you REALLY think that someone who is eight years older than you did not say exactly the same things eight years ago?"

I get that she has a career to build, and I don't know how much she is consciously taking on the "attack older women to make self stand out" role and how far she's being manipulated into it by her editors because it's an easier and more controversial sell. But I wish she'd give over.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 11:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the0lady.livejournal.com
I've always put it down to being young, myself; she was writing stuff that could be read as attacks on 2nd genners on her blog before she was given the NS platform and had editors to push her, really. I completely agree that it's silly, but I suppose I've always assumed that as she was such a brilliant kid, she'll get over it herself in a couple of years. We'll see, eh?

Meanwhile I have to humbly admit to knowing next to nothing about British people of her generation (too young to be my friends, too old to be my friends' kids), so I find her stuff on the student protests and other writings on the youf of today rather useful. Would you say her views on that are also skewed? I'd like to gauge how much I can trust her reportage from that particular front...

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 07:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] biascut.livejournal.com
Oh, I totally agree with your first paragraph. I am just impatient and mean! (And also very glad that when I was writing things like that, it was on obscure message boards with only a hundred or so readers!)

Can't really comment on the protests stuff: our students aren't protesting so I'm not sure what's going on.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 10:49 pm (UTC)
ailbhe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ailbhe
I think women matter alright; I think they're a big threat and need to be squashed the hell down. No child benefit, no childcare vouchers, and no legal aid for divorce, I hear.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the0lady.livejournal.com
No mandatory pay audits, no guaranteed safe housing, and no budget for shelters and rape crisis centres, either. Oh yes. They hate you.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-09 09:28 am (UTC)
ext_37604: (Default)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
Please do link! That would be ace.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 10:51 pm (UTC)
ailbhe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ailbhe
The thing about comparing a woman's salary to the total cost of childcare instead of HALF of it always makes me incoherent with rage.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 11:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the0lady.livejournal.com
Why should any of it come out of her wages? Let the man carry the baby on his back day and night for 9 months, then we'll talk about going halves.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-05 11:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the0lady.livejournal.com
Or the other parent of any gender, of course, if present. This was not meant as a heteronormative comment.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 08:25 am (UTC)
ext_37604: (executive lesbian from sinsense)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
Well, but the whole tone of the argument and the debate is heteronormative. The fact that many children live with two female parents, both earning a "worthless" female wage in a "dispensable" female career, is never considered.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 09:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the0lady.livejournal.com
Isn't that because there's a genuine implicit understanding that women are dispensable and worthless only as compared to men? So if a woman is bringing children (or evn just setting up house) up with a man, then there is a built in hierarchy that means she is subservient and her needs are abnegated. But when two men or two women do it, there is no built-in power imbalance, and the whole thing has to be reconsidered on mature realities. I've always thought that this meritocratci element of gay marriage (and the ideas it might put into the heads of hetero women) was the biggest reason social conservatives are so adamantly against it, even if they'd never admit that that was the reason. Their whole worldview is based on the domination of one half of the population by the other half, and they can't conceive of a working society that's not run on that power gap.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 08:21 am (UTC)
ext_37604: (jesusgun)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
WORD. Absolutely. More Ailbhean maths at work in society's financial considerations, please!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 12:25 pm (UTC)
ailbhe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ailbhe
We apply it solidly to division of household labour, too, which makes me look bad in public. Oh well.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 09:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] krabbe.livejournal.com
I think I know what you mean, but the way you say it doesn't make your argument well.

If the parents' incomes are 23k and 38k, then that's either 35k incomne with childcare, or 23k or 38k without, and it doesn't matter whether you do ((a - 0.5c) + (b - 0.5c)) or (a + b - c) or (a + (b - c)). You know this, and everyone else knows this, but this is the answer your argument attracts.

The point I think you're making, and that I agree with, is that it is always assumed to be the mother who makes the smaller amount and who would be the one to stay at home either way. Currently, this is often true, but for the wrong reasons (or for no reason at all, same thing) - using generic terms, rather than "mother" and "father" in reporting would be a great and important step to start eroding that.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 09:48 am (UTC)
ext_37604: (Default)
From: [identity profile] glitzfrau.livejournal.com
Why isn't the solution that the parents both share the childcare and work part-time? Why shouldn't the woman work 3 days a week and the man 3 days, rather than the woman destroy her career?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 10:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] krabbe.livejournal.com
I don't disagree with that, either; on the contrary. Thing is, it's yet another step further out - first, men and women need to *in practice* have the same career and pay paths, based on the same merits - we have all of the legislation, but too little of the reality. *Then* more creative arrangements make more sense.

I know one of the very, very few families where the mother has the better income and the more recession-proof jobs, and it works well for them that the father stays at home when he doesn't have a job that covers childcare fully. Using my previous numbers, two times part-time would end up with 30.5k, which may or may not be sufficient to pay for the lifestyle they wish to have (size and location of place, commuting prices and distance, shopping facilities and so on); notably, it's less than giving up one income completely, and even more notably, it's less than both working full time and paying for childcare. Sure, the numbers are made up, but given the currently existing income disparity, the effect will always be the same. That disparity is the first, and bigger, problem.

(Yes, I'm assuming that a 3-day work week would attract half pay; that's probably reasonably accurate, in practice, assuming part-time work actually works given the job - mostly true - and is available from the employer - less often the case. Two part-time employees working 20h/week each are more expensive for the employer than one working 40h; I'm sure there are exceptions, but like the family I mentioned above, exceptions do not show that the system works.)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 11:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] biascut.livejournal.com
Two part-time employees working 20h/week each are more expensive for the employer than one working 40h

...because of the various benefits that you're excluding from your discussion which may mean that the overall financial benefit to the family is far more than simply the headline salary.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 10:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] biascut.livejournal.com
The point I think you're making, and that I agree with, is that it is always assumed to be the mother who makes the smaller amount and who would be the one to stay at home either way

No, I don't think that is Helen's point. The point is that that is only considering income in a single given year. It is not looking at the value of that £23k in a year's time, when £2k of it has gone into a pension and you've got a pay-rise to £24k, or in six years' time, when £12k has gone into a pension which is now worth £14k and you've got a payrise to £30k. It is certainly not looking at the worth of that £23k -> £30k when the £38k is suddenly no longer reliable, because that person has left/been made redundant/become ill/whatever else. (And that's just purely in financial terms.)

Looked at in purely financial terms, the £2-6k "saving" that you started with because it was cheaper to lose the £23k person's job than pay for childcare + commuiting costs for three years has just become a loss of £10-20k. And very possibly the difference between financial security and bringing your children up in poverty or experiencing poverty in your old age.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 12:23 pm (UTC)
ailbhe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ailbhe
EXACTLY. If I had wanted to take a career break for the early part of the kids lives and then return to the workplace similarly to when I left, I would be looking at a pay DROP for my first back-to-work job, not starting again where I left off, as well as the years of payrises etc I'd have missed out on. Luckily we have plans which take this into account, but many many women come under huge pressure to allow their higher-earning partner to continue to develop their career while their already lower-earning career takes a nosedive just because of a temporary financial benefit *which primarily benefits the higher-earning partner.*

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 07:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] krabbe.livejournal.com
Sorry, my "you" referred to Ailbhe. I agree with what you - biascut - are saying (some nitpickings notwithstanding; they're just detractors, so let's not waste time on them). I just didn't see that in Ailbhe's comment I was replying to.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 11:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] forthwritten.livejournal.com
I hate the whole system that assumes a career and financial stability is only possible if you have unpaid labour taking care of children and running the household, and one that pressures women out of work because of the immediate financial benefits.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-07 12:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] radegund.livejournal.com
Oh gawd, so depressing.

I find it hard to think about this dispassionately, because my own trajectory has been, in some ways, so destabilising to my assumptions.

When I went back to work full time after having O, I was acutely aware that my so-called "choice" to do so was open to me only because of my/our economic privilege. I disliked the kyriarchal nature of the dynamic I had with the carers in the creche. I was outraged that the work they did was valued so much less highly than mine - even though the quality of that work was so vitally important to me, to O, and to our household's wellbeing. And yet, of course, if their work had been valued at a level I felt appropriate, we could never have afforded it. Fucking patriarchal capitalism.

Then, of course, it turned out that going-out-to-work-while-having-young-kids was manifestly injurious to my physical and mental health. And so I got to eat my privilegecakes again when I took first one career break, then a second. Always, always aware that I'm so much freer to make these choices than the vast majority of women. (Even on one income, I think we're still in something like the top fifth of PAYE households.)

When I try to think objectively about srs things like lifetime earning power and career advancement and financial security, my mind just skitters off into a corner and assumes the foetal position. (Ooh, appropriate.) Part of this, of course, is that I've never actively desired a traditional "career", as such. And part of it is, again, privilege: by taking these years away from a regular paycheque, I may have knocked a small five-figure sum off my final total earnings, but odds are it won't matter too much, because I'll still be financially OK.

Ugh.

Meanwhile, I'm at my most socialist when thinking about children: since, pragmatically, we're not going to stop producing new generations any time soon, and since nobody can help who they're born to, I believe that we must, as a society, think of children as everyone's responsibility. Ideally we'd do that without fetishising parenthood - specifically motherhood - and without marginalising those who choose not to reproduce. Tall order.

What this reminds me of, in fact, is a beautiful concept [livejournal.com profile] cangetmad mentioned years ago, about how one way to get around the issue of all the "concessions" that pregnant workers get is to conceptualise all workers as pregnant workers. There you go: instant level playing field.

Similarly, if I ruled the world, I would terminate with extreme prejudice the structure that leads to parents having to make these diffcult, frequently painful, and usually gender-skewed compromises with respect to work and childcare. Conceptualise all workers as having paramount family/household responsibilities (though preferably without the nauseating rhetoric that surrounds "family" in our current setup), and structure everything else around that.

How we'd get there from here, of course, is another matter.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-07 08:38 am (UTC)
ext_6283: Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire (Neither a doormat nor a prostitute)
From: [identity profile] oursin.livejournal.com
(Via reading list)
The dear old Fawcett Society - not even second wave, first wave, originally one of the suffrage societies, and not even the militants, the constitutionals - is actively protesting the budgetary attack on women and making a legal challenge to the discriminatory nature of the government's policies. Not so fusty.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-12 04:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] smoke-rising.livejournal.com
Rape culture and poverty in old age, misogynist advertising and the glass ceiling, sexual liberation and economic agencies - these aren't issues that exist in isolation from each other, they are part of a whole patriarchal matrix. A little intergenerational solidarity is required, if we are ever to fight back.

Thanks for reminding me, and I don't mean that sarcastically. You always give me pause for thought with your writings. Here, in Italy, where I feel the pressure of a patriarchal society much more strongly than I did in the UK*, it's good to hear some resonance that I'm not just some mad ranting feminist out here on my own.

*Our Minister for Gender Equality was appointed by Buffone Berluscone - and she's a former glamour model,
(deleted comment)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-25 11:48 am (UTC)
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)
From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid
And I commented in the wrong place :-(