WEBCHAT GUIDELINES 1. One question per member plus one follow-up. 2. Keep your question brief. 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. More here.

Live webchat with Cristina Odone (Friday 23 Oct), 1-2pm

(126 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 22-Oct-09 13:10:07

We're delighted to announce that Cristina Odone is joining us for a webchat tomorrow lunchtime (Friday 23 Oct, 1-2pm).

Cristina has just written a paper for the Centre for Policy Studies (Tory thinktank) called What Women Want.. And How They Can Get It. In it, she argues that the Government needs to stop encouraging women/mothers back to full-time work because most of us don't want to commit to a full-time job.

In her conclusion, she says: "... we need to break the stranglehold that a small coterie of women who work fulltime and buy into the macho way of life, enjoy on our public life. They have, for years, misrepresented real women who reject the masculine value system for one that rates caring above a career, and inter-dependence above independence."

Some of you have already been discussing her views on this thread and you can download the full paper here.

Cristina is a writer, broadcaster and journalist - she was editor of the Catholic Herald and deputy editor of the New Statesman - and a mother.

If you can't join us tomorrow for the chat, please post your advance questions here.

morningpaper Thu 22-Oct-09 13:35:41

Wow Cristina Odone, she is so interesting. I'd love to have tea with her. Odone is someone that I know I SHOULD know more about.

I think I'm out mending a computer though, I will have to avoid that if possible...

I'm interested in some things not really pertaining to the report - is that allowed?

Why ARE you still a catholic? Are you REALLY a catholic still?! Surely you would be better off as a nice woolly high anglican? Doesn't it kill you that Ratzinger is pope? How can you bear another 20 years of it?!

What do you think about the recent "tank-parking" - is this a poaching of additional 'faithful'?

UMMM I need to google-stalk her a bit

oh wait - Are those Rules in Red about this thread still valid? Am I just allowed one question? Dammit - I'll go for the Why Are You Still A Catholic? Question because I know she's written an essay on this but I've yet to read it.

Kathyis12feethighandbites Thu 22-Oct-09 13:37:20

ooh, nice one MN Towers - whatever you think of her she is interesting and has a lot to say grin

<goes off to think of question>

sfxmum Thu 22-Oct-09 13:45:43

I will download the paper and read it, She often annoys me but sometimes I find myself agreeing with her.

still the strongest image I have of her is of a programme she did about the Catholic church were she ended up in tears on account of women, within the Catholic church, who were in favour of women becoming priest, she entirely disagreed with that view and saw it as destroying her church.
I found that point of view incomprehensible

perhaps should add that I was brought up a Catholic and am now an atheist

morningpaper Thu 22-Oct-09 13:47:59

Yes she is interesting on the Catholic front because of the lack of Catholic women in the media (ermmm Anne Widdecombe? Sister Wendy? Ermmmm) and she is always opinionated - I like that in a laydee

AitchTwoToTangOh Thu 22-Oct-09 13:55:17

i'd like to know, if it's not too intrusive, what effect the long illness and search for a cure for her half-brother Lorenzo had on her family? (if indeed they were close, i don't know. don't answer if it's too nosey).

BonsoirAnna Thu 22-Oct-09 14:01:11

I liked Cristina Odone's report very much indeed smile and could identify closely with the sentiments expressed within it.

I am fortunate to have both the type of qualifications and professional experience that are valued in the male world of work (so my ego is secure) and the personal and economic circumstances to be able to choose to devote most of my time to taking care of my family.

I think the greatest force pushing mothers to work FT is the cost of housing; if we returned to the old system where mortgages were tied to 3x the single highest income in a family, far fewer mothers would need to return to work after childbirth and we could talk about choice.

moondog Thu 22-Oct-09 16:08:27

Oh God, another yaaaawwnfest.

(Although the Centre for Policy Studies normally brilliant.)

ProfessorLaytonIsMyZombieSlave Thu 22-Oct-09 17:36:16

I suppose asking what she thinks of this thread would rather stretch the "one question" rule...?

Morningpaper - you've missed out Cherie Blair as a high profile catholic woman grin

Cristina you said
'Far from being committed to a career, the overwhelming
majority of women would prefer to opt out of it. Instead of
finding satisfaction in full-time work, most women realise
themselves in their other roles as carers, partners, community
members, and above all mothers.' (my italics)

On what grounds do you make this assertion of 'preference'? Surely it's not only on the basis of one YOUGOV survey of less than 5000 people and 'research' done by Mother and Baby magazine?

Also I don't recognise myself in your descriptions of 'real women' - am I faking it then?

TheDullWitch Thu 22-Oct-09 21:10:26

Why should we respect your views on what is right for women when a) you are anti-choice on abortion and b) you believe our taxes should be used to fund Muslim faith schools where eight year old girls are compelled to wear hijab and taught separately from the values of equality and liberty which women in this country have fought for decades to have enshrined in law.

HerBewitcheditude Thu 22-Oct-09 21:39:52

Cristina your report didn't deal with the issue of how little men's lives have changed in the last half century in contrast to how much women's have. I think there is a lot of truth in your assertion that many women do not want to be pushed out into the workplace when their children are young, because there is work needing to be done at home; but we have already tried a society where women did most of the domestic work and men were free to pursue more interesting work outside the home and in that society, a woman's status was extremely low, even lower than it is now. And having the lion's share of dull, domestic work dumped on women, as well as the delightful, fulfilling work of child-rearing, is unfair on both men and women. Why didn't you engage more with the subject of men's working and domestic choices, as well as women's? They're half the couple, they're at least as important.

Ok well with the number of questions posted so far I think we can expect full and frank answers to all the questions posted!

Tambajam Fri 23-Oct-09 09:34:14

Did you read the original Jan Moir column on Stephen Gately and today's column?:

Just wondered what your take on it was.

JulesJules Fri 23-Oct-09 10:17:32


favourite biscuit?

<runs away>

morningpaper Fri 23-Oct-09 10:35:22

I'm going to ask more questions in case I'm allowed...

Do you think that Faith schools will be more or less under threat under a Tory government compared to a Labour government?

What do you think individual Faith schools can best do to prove their value, both to individuals as to the wider community?

UtaRH Fri 23-Oct-09 11:01:22

I'm more than a little worried about the press reports that the Pope has made arrangements to encourage traditionalist Anglican clergy to jump ship. Like many other women and men in the RC denomination, I live in hope that our Church will drop the mysogynist aspects of its heritage and structure and move on with the Spirit. What do you think is needed in response to the message that the Pope's plan conveys?

CMOTdibbler Fri 23-Oct-09 11:04:30

I think that the way the poll was worded meant that you were always going to get the answers you wanted. After all, if money was no object for the rest of your life, most people (with or without children) would say that they would only work a little, if at all.

I found your report read as though 'real women' only got pleasure from caring roles, that they wanted their husbands to take charge and speak for them, and every woman wanted to stay home and have children. This is patently untrue, and incredibly insulting to women who choose and enjoy non traditional roles. And indeed those men that have happy partnerships based on equal responsibilities for income generation and household/family roles

morningpaper Fri 23-Oct-09 11:13:32

Right I have read the actual report now and I have some further questions – then I will run away before Justine bans me.

1. How is this report meant to be remotely informative when the premise of this report is, in my opinion, quite invalid, because the questions that the sample group are asked begin with the following statements:

"Assuming it is not absolutely essential for financial reasons...."
"If it were not essential for you to work for financial reasons..."

We are therefore immediately placing men and women in a charming utopia where financial obligations are magically removed and we are free to skip and play with children all day. Where is this utopia, please? Beginning these questions this way makes the results nonsense – because we are not asking people what they want based on their current realities. Assuming it wasn’t necessary for financial reasons, my husband would be off playing golf and never work another day's work in his life. But that discussion is the stuff of drunken dinner parties rather than proper grown-up reports that are claiming to want an influence on government strategy. It would have been a far more interesting project had the questions started with: "Considering your current financial obligations ..." because, frankly, most people could HAVE the work-situation of their choice if they upped sticks and went to live in a rented flat in the 'burbs of Swindon. But that isn't what anyone wants, is it?

I think a great opportunity has been missed here because this entire report is based on "financial reasons" not entering the equation, and particularly as we are entering a period where we can't really hope to give financial assistance to anyone except those at the very bottom of the poverty ladder, talking about helping stay-at-home parents is completely unrealistic.

2. Bearing in mind that we are facing a situation where the tax credits system and childcare vouchers are likely to be stopped altogether, how exactly would you suggest the current situation is funded? Which parental-benefit should go in order to fund a better life for parents in a more fair manner? You seem very scathing of projects such as Sure Start, which is a very easy target, but these projects are so hard to manage. Have you attended many Sure Start centres? What was your experience of them? In my experience Sure Start centres act as focal points for deprived communities, rather than provided institutionalised care for all. How do you suggest that (crudely) poor working class women should get social engagement and support, if it isn’t in these sorts of environments?

3. If 11 of people think that women should be out of the workforce for 20 years (assuming they have two children with a gap between them) – and 35% think they should be out of the workforce for around 15 years, how exactly are we supposed to fund their pensions? We can't afford state pensions to continue as they are at the moment! And what sort of job are these women going to do for the 20 years remaining of their working lives?

4. "We need to break the stranglehold that a small coterie of women who work fulltime and buy into the macho way of life, enjoy on our public life." Could you name some of these women? Surely you are one of them? Do you regret being one of them or do you think that your contribution to public life outweighs the 'damage' your career has inflicted on women's perceptions of success? What do you say of women who might admire your career and your contribution to public life? Do you think you could have achieved all that you have achieved if you had worked part time while your children were at home?

OK I am going now before Justine comes to get me

HerBewitcheditude Fri 23-Oct-09 11:36:12

"because, frankly, most people could HAVE the work-situation of their choice if they upped sticks and went to live in a rented flat in the 'burbs of Swindon."

No MP that's simply not true. Most people don't earn enough to have the working situation of their choice, even if they live in rented flats in the burbs of Swindon or anywhere else. People who live in rented accomodation in undesirable burbs, still need to work full time just to get by (not to have holidays and nice cars, just to pay the rent and food bills), because wages are very low for most people and housing costs are very high - even when if live in a hovel in a crap area.

morningpaper Fri 23-Oct-09 11:40:21

But herBewitched: If you moved to a one-bed flat in Swindon (300 per month?) I'm sure you could largely live on benefits or one person's salary - of course you'd have a shit life. But that's why the survey cited in Cristina's paper is meaningless. No one wants a shit life. That's why people work. If existing without work was the MOST IMPORTANT THING then we could do it. We could move in with our parents. But it isn't the most important thing. We all want a reasonable quality of life.

HerBewitcheditude Fri 23-Oct-09 11:47:28

Hmm. There are some who would say that living in a burb in Swindon working full time just scraping by, is having a shit life.

You don't need to move to Swindon to live on benefits btw. grin Or the burbs.

HerBewitcheditude Fri 23-Oct-09 11:51:54

but yes I get your point.

It was just the implication that ft work means you don't have to rent and live in a crap area, which I am quibbling with.

mollythetortoise Fri 23-Oct-09 12:43:23

Hi Christina, do you think working women are under pressure (directly or indirectly) from other women to declare publicly that they only work because they have to and would much rather stay at home.

I often hear myself saying that to friends and colleagues, infact anyone who asks, when actually I don't mean feel that way at all.
(I work 4 days a week)
I like working and the break from my children and I am convinced this makes me a better mother to my children but I never admit this openly.

Do you think at least some of the respondants in your survey might have felt this way too?

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 12:47:20



CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 12:50:59


GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 23-Oct-09 12:56:39

Cristina's going to be on the thread shortly. She's been reading through your questions and has some answers she's already prepared, so she'll post those first and then be ready for new questions.

Thanks for coming on Cristina

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 23-Oct-09 13:00:43

Wish I could be around for this but briefly,

When you say 'what women want' presumably you mean everyone else other than you, and the Tory women who perhaps consulted you and perhaps all the women in the Centre for Policy Studies...?

You mean it's only working class women you'd rather have barefoot and pregnant again then?


CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:01:02

Hi there, this is Cristina... please bear with me, I have no voice (thank god we're only posting today) and no kitchen floor (just moved home,,,,, argh....) soam a bit frazzzled... but i love the questions and comments including the one from the original webt chat last week saying I was a fossil...
but first things first. Got the qustionnaire from mnhq: Favourite biscuit? Digestive
Banksy or Vermeer? Vermeer -- I once went to a Banksy "event" and by
the time I came away i wanted to slit my wrists
Favourite book? please can I have two? Little Women and Anna Karenina
Favourite film? Casablanca
What do you value most justice or mercy? mercy: I would never be able
to shop a friend or a family member even if they'd slaughtered
innocent babies
Urban or rural for living? city, please
Cosy and warm carpets or draughty floorboards? draughty floorboards
Ikea or junk shop? Ikea
Black or green wellies? green
Book that had the most profound effect on you as a child? Little women

TheMysticMasseuse Fri 23-Oct-09 13:03:29

hello Cristina.

1. what is the point of educating girls then?
2. doesn't it grate that a religion that is more or less founded on a woman (for me catholicism is the cult of Mary more than anything else) have such a disparaging and reductive view of women?

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:03:53

To Northernlurker: when I write that most women "prefer" to opt out of a career, I am not just basing myself on our YouGov poll (though it was a representative sample of 2000 plus). There are numerous surveys and studies that came up with similiar statistics --including the six month long government consulation exercise (some people called it a road show) "Listening to Women" -- over 12000 women took part and again, they said that they would prefer not to live to work, but fit work into their life

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:05:59

Dear Mysticmasseuse 1) have you read VS Naipaul's book of that name and isn't it one of the best ever 2) I never say that work is not important to women I just say that, listening to the women I have listened to, it is clear WORK IS NOT central to our sense of self or sense of satisfaction and achievement... contrary to what many say

Oh come on - not wanting to live to work and wanting to opt out of a career altogether are completely different things! Sorry - not persuaded by that one.

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:09:43

VulpusinaWulfsuit, the women who participated in the research were from a representative sample, and the ones whose case studies I had access to through the tavistock centre for couples relationship were pretty representative, too. This pamphlet was not a party political broadside: I think the working macho culture is as much a conservative party construct as a new Labour one.... I think the Tories should listen to women on marriage for ex: women don't value marriage as much as a strong loving relationship...

InmyheadIminParis Fri 23-Oct-09 13:10:30

Don't you think you're being too black and white about this?

You're asking women about their views on careers in the current workplace.

I think if you'd looked a bit deeper you'd have found that women would like to keep their careers going - but in a more flexible workplace. Don't you think that if you gave women the option to work 3 days a week and progress their careers in the same way they would be able to if they worked full time most women would jump at the chance?

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:11:33

northernlurker: opting out of a career does not mean opting out of a job... You can work even fulltime without having a career that is demanding, and requires your constant attention.

fruitspooksbatsintheeaves Fri 23-Oct-09 13:12:06

'WORK IS NOT central to our sense of self or sense of satisfaction and achievement... '

but it does become central when the majority of people look down their noses at SAHM's.
SAHM's are NOT valued by society OR the government, and therefore feel the presure to work.

InmyheadIminParis Fri 23-Oct-09 13:13:23

And many men, too, btw

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:13:41

InmyheadIminParis (and in mine I'm in Rome, enjoying pasta vino and la dolce vita) a huge part of my pamphlet is about how women would like to do part time work, and are frustrated by the few opportun available in that sector. Why? because if you are running a small or even a large company, you thnk twice about creating part time jobs as they cost you more in terms of money time and paperwork. Govmt (right or left) should makle it easier for employers to create part time jobs!

CMOTdibbler Fri 23-Oct-09 13:13:50

Surely though, couples who were attending the Tavistock were there because of problems in their relationships ? Not the many families happily getting on with their lives.

I was a bit hmm that they read like Daily Mail stereotypes too.

The fact that 85% of KPMG employees have applied to work 4 days a week must show that everyone (just about) would like to work less without compromising their career

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:15:37

fruitspooksbatsinthe YES YES you're right SAHMs I encountered through this research were lonely and felt incredibly under-valued. SAHMs don't get the respect they should from all quarters --including other women

Oh yes those case studies - glad you mentioned that. The case study of Ally and Karl - you seem to suggest that Karl's extra-marital affair is Ally's fault for being too powerful and neglecting the emotional side of her realtionship. Is that ^really what you think - or am I mistaken - and if that is what you think does the same hold true for couple where the man is working outside the home, focusing on that and neglecting his wife, is she too justified in having an affair?

TheMysticMasseuse Fri 23-Oct-09 13:16:54

Hi Cristina, my favourite Naipaul book is A House for Mr Biswas but that wasn't as snappy a screen name

ok so yes, work may not be central to our sense of self-worth but it is essential and I think while in many ways you are saying the unsayable and in that sense your honesty ought to be welcome, you are threading a very very fine line between asserting the uniqueness of women and a good old reactionary view that women should jsut shut up and stay home.

InmyheadIminParis Fri 23-Oct-09 13:17:54

Of course they should - but if you believe that, then you have to agree that a career is important to many women. Women want to be able to balance the care of their children and their interest in the workplace. They want to be valued for the work they do, even if its for fewer hours than women with out children. They want their careers to progress, not stall. The 'problem' is that many (most?) women are prepared to sacrifice their career progression to ensure they can spend time with their children. It's not that they want to do it, it's that they're prepared to make the sacrifice.

onebatmother Fri 23-Oct-09 13:18:16

Ahem. Finding it almost impossible to juggle the expectation that we will both work, and bring up children with care and thought is NOT the same thing as not wanting to work, I wouldn't say.

Where are the men?

It's pretty simple. When working men work as hard in the home as working women do, it's all.. doable.

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:19:02

AitchTwoToTangOh you asked me about Lorenzo, my half brother who was diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy when he was six. My father and stepmother decided to find a curefor him, and discovered Lorenzo's Oil(they made a Hollywood film about their story), which didn't cure him (he died last year) but which did keep him with us until he was 33... a tragedy like that can bind the family closer but it can also shake up your beliefs -- in my case, I had a difficult time reconciling the kind God of my catholic upbringing with one who could allow this to happen to a little six year old boy... still do...

onebatmother Fri 23-Oct-09 13:20:40

Very sorry to hear that news CO.

TheMysticMasseuse Fri 23-Oct-09 13:21:28

btw i should add that i work p-t in a job i love so i consider to have the perfect work life balance and i appreciate how enormously lucky i am. still between not working at all and giving up my chance to contribute to society (and yes you do contribute as a mother but i know i can do a lot more than that) and working FT i'd go FT

The yougov survey asked about women working though and made no distinction between 'job' and 'career'. I work full time and have what I would describe as a 'career' but I can also manage to love and care for my family. What would imo be really stupid is to do a job below the level at which I can excel just to have more space in my head to think about my laundry and after school activities.

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:21:56

TheMysticMasseuse -- yes House is best of all -- one of my favourite all time books. BUT SAD. Ok, yes work is essential. But does it have to be paid? does it have to be the corner office, the title, the fat wage packet? Or are those all macho values we should question?

TheMysticMasseuse Fri 23-Oct-09 13:23:19

am also genuinely interested in your views on my second question, as a catholic i have real issues with the huge chasm between the way women are portrayed in the bible and the gospel and the way they are treated in the Church.

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:23:41

onebatmother: yes yes yes men need to get in on this too -- I want a cultural shift not just a gender shift. A culture that values caring and nurturing from whomever, whenever...and not just 9-5 paid work outsside the home

InmyheadIminParis Fri 23-Oct-09 13:23:50

A good point well made, Northernlurker. smile

Hmmm well perhaps if you would like men to get in on the act it would be better not to rely on in your published argument on 'evidence' that revolves around whether women should work at all?

onebatmother Fri 23-Oct-09 13:27:25

But CO, no-one thinks real women work because they want the corner office etc do they?

What are you proposing the next govt do,btw?

TheMysticMasseuse Fri 23-Oct-09 13:28:08

YES OF COURSE IT HAS TO BE PAID!!!!!!!!!!! otherwise we are going back to the good ol' days of women counting for nothing, next they'll take our right to vote as well.

i think there is a more subtle question which is how we can make the workplace more accomodating for family-friendly career paths. i have worked in the city and couldn't cope with a "rise or crash" culture that meant if you didn't peak within 5-7 years of starting to work (with all the associated monstruos stress) you were a failure. where i am now i am confident that i can take things a bit more slowly and i'll still have a chance (but that doesn't mean i take things easy, i am often working in the evenings etc).

I don't know if lack of materialistic ambition is a female trait but i agree with you that companies should wake up to the fact that women like to be compensated in other ways as well eg flexible career paths etc

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:29:27

Morningpaper, Sfx mum, TheMysticMasseuse: can i answer all three of you about my catholicism.... why I'm still a Catholic? it provides roots and reins for my life . I know who I am, I know how far I can go. If I go further or stray (andgod knows I have) I have a sense of where I SHOULD be. Now, is it a religion based on a woman (cult of the virgin mary)? I think it is best to say it is a religion based on love and YES,I'm angry to see it exclude women from the priesthod 9esp as so many women have the empathy crucial to the job) but I want to work withhin the church rather than without... now you've got me on the subject, I'm also angry about the divorce teachings in the church... I'm married to a divorced man who was left by his wife -- yet I'm barred from communuion as a result.... seems a bit harsh.... I've just published a comic novel The good Divorce Guide, which basically says that you can have a friednly divorce that does not lead to tragedy .... wonder what Pope B would make of that?

morningpaper Fri 23-Oct-09 13:33:19

Why don't you become an Anglo-Catholic? Are you punishing yourself? wink You could have a full, active spiritual life in a community which is, frnakly, far more merciful about divorce. AND you wouldn't have Ratzinger in charge. Everybody wins! It's just so much nicer all the time...

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:34:23

northernlurker hold on: the research found that a third of men AND women would rather not work at all. Men are part of the equation -- of course. And I think that if we can get more flexible work patterns, and more part time employment opportunities and the govmt STOPS telling parents whom they must leave their children with so they can pitch in as minders, men can play a huge role in the revolution

chamble Fri 23-Oct-09 13:34:47

Surely one thing that would help would be to tally school hours with working hours

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:35:29

morningpaper you sound like my DH who IS an anglocatholic.... but catholicism is so much part of who i am....

cleanandclothed Fri 23-Oct-09 13:35:49

How do you think your wishes can be achieved? What are the barriers to creating part-time jobs that you mentioned? And what is your view on the length of maternity leave, paternity leave, and flexible working rights?

onebatmother Fri 23-Oct-09 13:35:59

I tend to think that the 'encouraging us as a culture to value nurturing/caring' doesn't really get to the bottom of the fundamental question: who does the crap-work in any given household?

While the answer is 'the woman', the kind of questions that you've asked are never going to deliver a true picture.

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:36:42

chamble yes yes yes! that would be such a great government initiative.... i hadn't thought of that, but that's a good one

LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 13:37:04

Had a quick read of the leaflet. Money is the issue surely. We'd all like to pick and choose what we do, stop working completely or partially before retirement and take significant career breaks but can't afford to do so. I'm sure we'd like to take the same approach to our kids sometimes rather than the 25/7/265 job it is.

I should imagine men feel the same. Why is this all focused on women?

HerBewitcheditude Fri 23-Oct-09 13:37:55

God don't suggest it. The govt wouldn't make the working day shorter, they'd make the school day longer. Not fair on kids.

Penthesileia Fri 23-Oct-09 13:38:42

Hello Christina.

First off, I want to say that I completely agree with your observation that it is pretty rich that a privileged few women (with desirable and rewarding jobs) frequently dictate "popular" opinion about women in work.

I also agree that SAHMs (and SAHDs!) and caring more generally should be recognised for their invaluable contribution to society.

However, I couldn't get over the impression I got from reading your report that you were simply recasting a number of sexist stereotypes about women's roles - some that women have "bought" themselves. How can we get round a) the problem of (internalised) sexism in modern society yet also b) acknowledge that women may have different aims and goals in the life and the workplace, etc.

I also agree with morningpaper that it's worse than useless to base policy on the utopian question "if it were financially possible for you to give up work..". Are we really surprised that people would like not to work?

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:38:52

thedullwitch: you are wrong about my position on abortion -- i think we need to review the limit, that's all; re faith schools: for many traditional muslim parents the only way they will allow their daughters to go to school is if they are enrolled in a muslim school. Close the muslim schools, and you're closing the door on educational opportunities for muslim girls... everyone's a loser then

chamble Fri 23-Oct-09 13:39:52

Glad you like idea. A longer school day might give more time for PE too - helping quash obesity problem. And would surely be cheaper than building ever more after school clubs and other facilities. Wouldn't mean teachers have to stay on. Numerous organisations run sports coaching for kids.

LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 13:39:52

xposts, men included, good.

So, who pays people to care? I'd love to spend my time working in the community, building relationships and spending more of my time with people I like but we've got to pay the bills.

TheMysticMasseuse Fri 23-Oct-09 13:40:02

i am angry and sad on your behalf that you're barred from communion. it must be devastating for you.

Penthesileia Fri 23-Oct-09 13:40:16

Apologies for typos, especially Cristina. blush

onebatmother Fri 23-Oct-09 13:40:21

Yes, it does rather sound as though you have taken some generalized responses that indicate that we'd all like to work less and have more time for family, and extrapolated to make some (rather bold) claims for how women's identities are formed..

onebatmother Fri 23-Oct-09 13:40:52

which happen to fit well with a broad Tory world view..

chamble Fri 23-Oct-09 13:41:38

HerBewitcheditude - wouldn't be unfair on those kids who already go to afterschool clubs or childminder anyway.

InmyheadIminParis Fri 23-Oct-09 13:42:21

shock Really? The only way to ensure some muslim girls are educated is to ensure there are faith schools? shock

TheMysticMasseuse Fri 23-Oct-09 13:42:50

Cristina given that you are being so cool and open can I be cheeky and ask about your working hours?

Rather it said that a third would not work at all if (as others have already commented) finances weren't an issue - which in the world we live in (where you buy goods and services with legal tender not good intentions) is an expression of intent that holds no weight at all.

You seem quite keen on informal childcare arrangements perhaps focused on one or two carers. This is a recipe for unreliability and failure imo. I arranged with a friend once to look after my children for a few afternoons whilst I was at work. Two weeks in she went and got a paid job (how very dare she!) and I had to rearrange and start again. Many women don't have the networks to call on which allow this sort of arrangement anyway - and why shouldn't government support them? Childcare subsidies are surely dwarfed by the input of working women to the economy? Expecially when you consider that working whilst your children are young goes to support your earnings through your life. If we all stayed at home for 5 or 10 or 20 years we would have to accept that lack of economic effort would leave a huge hole both in our own finaces and in those of the nation.

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:43:39

penthesileia and morningpaper the reason we talk about " if money were no object" in the questionnaire is so we find out what women WANT as opposed to what they have to do. The government -- any government -- should help them achieve this, right? for instance by not offering incentives to women who have small children to go out to work FT.... and actually, I WAS surprised that as many women and men said they did NOT want to work. I was suprised because we've all been told from when we were kneehigh to a grasshopper that (paid) work was IT

LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 13:44:34

I'd like a bit less time with my family, or at least more time with others but there are too few options to socialise available because we don't seem to like seeing kids out in public places after dark. We're also all too narrow and nuclear because we all work too much to pay the bills.

onebatmother Fri 23-Oct-09 13:45:12

"for many traditional muslim parents the only way they will allow their daughters to go to school is if they are enrolled in a muslim school."

If such discrimination on the grounds of sex widely exists, shouldn't it be approached head on?

morningpaper Fri 23-Oct-09 13:46:22

(But you don't have to give up that part of you at all - you may be Catholic but I doubt that your Catholic part of you is THAT hinged on a total faith in the magisterium... surely it is more about the experience of the eucharist, the fully sacramental life, the importance of justice and mercy? The anglo-catholic liturgy is virtually indistinguishable from the roman rite... basically, change 'perpetual light' to 'light perpetual' and you're almost there wink... A non-sacramental life is like a married without sex... I mean you can do it, but you are missing out on so much of the participatory and forgiving side of human spiritual existence...And how marvellous it would be to kneel at the altar and receive the eucharist with your husband... really if that isn't what mercy is about, what is?)

ANYWAY enough GOD stuff

Tallying school hours with working hours was the intention behind the Extended Schools scheme, surely? But your paper was very disparaging about that.

I do feel that the paper lacks ACTUAL PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS particularly in our current economic climate when family-friendly tax breaks are likely to go up the swanny pretty soon anyway...

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:46:38

TheMysticMasseuse: i've got three children (two step) 16 14 and 6 . when the 6 yr old DD is at school I dive into my work (at home, writing comic novels and serious pamphlets) and then emerge at 3. Then I resume work once they're in bed (usually with DH doing the same because he's a workaholic journo)

LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 13:47:09

An incentive to work FT doesn't mean you go and do it just because it's there. Surely they are helpful because you have to work?

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:47:47

Inmyheadiminparis I think faith schools ensures that traditional muslim parents are more likely to keep their daughters in school, yes (wrote a pamphlet about it called In Bad Faith for the CPS last year)

TheMysticMasseuse Fri 23-Oct-09 13:49:51

So you work full time, basically, although with flexibility. well same as i do (but on a p-t salary as the evening hours don't count). there is no such thing as part-time work, really...

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:49:51

LeninGhoul an incentive from the govmt means the govmt is sending a message across - and the message is we value you more as a paid worker than as a mum

Penthesileia Fri 23-Oct-09 13:50:01

I understand - to a certain extent - that you wanted to find out what people wanted. Ok. Fine. But if you asked me that question, I would instantly - in my head - imagine myself as having won the lottery or some other fantasy situation.

The fact is it is financially impossible to support everybody in what they want. That's obvious. Even if the government made it easier for companies to employ women part-time (which is sensible, of course), it would still not give people what they want. Life's not like that.

Besides, I still don't know that the questions asked genuinely ironed out - or addressed - the hidden sexist bias which may have informed your respondents' "wants". Fine if we're happy building society based on latent sexism (of both men and women); not so fine if we're not...

LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 13:50:17

Who is going to pay my DP to stay at home and look after our kids? ATM the state does not pay her a wage but does pay towards her pension and the kids' upkeep but that is sub- subsistence money.

Where is the money to come from?

"The reason we talk about "if money were no object" in the questionnaire is so we find out what women WANT as opposed to what they have to do"

Do you not see, though, that people's relationship with work is more complicated than that? Plenty of people enjoy their work while acknowledging if they won the lottery tomorrow they might jack it in and spend more time doing other things?

I'm also a bit hmm about your case study apparently saying it's fine for a man to have an affair if his wife has a demanding career - as NL says, does that work both ways?

LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 13:51:55

xposts again (we must be on the same wavelength somewhere).

So who is going to pay women or men to stay at home and care for children?

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:52:11

northernlurker I 'm sorry you thought it wasn't practical enough. I did call for less regulation and red tape for part time work, and for less Statist rules about who minds the children (ok you had a bad experience with your friend (SOME friend) but do you know how many women would love to be able to do what the policewomen in Aylsebury did, exchanging babysitting services but are scared of getting Ofsted bnging on their doors...!!!!)

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 23-Oct-09 13:55:17

Quick time check - Cristina has to go at 2pm (slight matter of a kitchen floor to sort out). Thanks again for coming on, hope you've enjoyed the discussion.

LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 13:55:30

Do you advocate some means of me claiming financial support for my DP to stay at home and care for our kids?

Penthesileia Fri 23-Oct-09 13:56:06

Thank you for coming on, Cristina.

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:56:14

longtalljosie: hold on, my case study doesn't say he was right to have an affair. (AND i CERTAINLY wouldn't condone any man's affair --if DH had one he'd be found at the bottom of the Thames with his ghoulies cut off) It says he DID have an affair, and the woman immediately blamed herself for being too powerful successful etc etc. She had been driven all her life to fulfil the Superwoman mould and suddenly discovered that there was a price to pay: in her case, her marriage.

morningpaper Fri 23-Oct-09 13:56:23

"an incentive from the govmt means the govmt is sending a message across - and the message is we value you more as a paid worker than as a mum"

You are using MONEY here as the tool of incentivism (i.e. the rewards that the Government offers), which demonstrates the truth that, actually, that is what the Government is ALL ABOUT, the distribution of money: so of course, logically, the Government values paid workers more, because it deals with MONEY. That is the only logical way of our society operating, unless we have free and readily avaialable food/shelter/healthcare without having to participate in any sort of paid work - which is never going to happen.

It isn't the Government's job to help people achieve what they want when what they want doesn't help contribute money which runs our society. The Government is not the means by which we bring about global happiness, it is the means by which we divide money. Otherwise why should we stop at what mothers want? What about what child-free lazy arses want?

Well before the policewomen affair I doubt many people even thought about Ofsted interfering - and I believe the latest reading of the law from government actually says that Ofsted would NOT intervene in that case or similar. I very much doubt our nation is overflowing with women desperate to work and look after each other's kids.

LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 13:56:45

In other words, if I could claim vouchers or costs back for putting them in other forms of childcare, why can't I claim financial support for DP to stay at home?

TheMysticMasseuse Fri 23-Oct-09 13:57:56

By Cristina and thanks for chatting to us. I have a suspicion you do that on a regular basis under some clever nickname- will look out for a fellow Naipaul lover (and perhaps on that occasion we can discuss whether it's possible to love an author while despising his politics!

Penthesileia Fri 23-Oct-09 13:58:06

What morningpaper said.

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 13:58:21

LeninGhoul as things stand if you go out to work and your DP stays at home to care for kids, the only way he gets money from the state is if he claims unemployment benefits...

LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 13:59:35

Lol mp! I'd be a lazy arse given the chance but the kids and pesky work keep me on my toes.

This all sounds great if you've got a DP who can provide for the household financially. For us, that's me. What happens when I don't want to do this anymore?

InmyheadIminParis Fri 23-Oct-09 14:01:33

It's been interesting. Thanks for coming!

LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 14:01:39

Ah but DP left work voluntarily to look after our kids and isn't available to work because she's, erm, looking after our kids.

If we want to attach value to that and really offer carers of children choices we have to pay them. But we don't want to so that's the end of that.

Thanks for chatting directly though, it's always good to engage.

Penthesileia Fri 23-Oct-09 14:01:44

Besides, apart from the chattering classes bigging-up women in work, couldn't we rather see the government's efforts the other way round, ie. that they are trying to address the difficulty women have in entering the workplace. Their actions are not targeted - as the rhetoric of your report sometimes suggests - at disadvantaging or diminishing SAHPs, etc., but rather at trying to redress centuries of sexism in the workplace. Quite a different matter.

If, on the other hand, the report had focussed more on why the roles men take in society make it impossible for women to get what they want (rather than "The Government"), then I might've agreed more.

If more men agitated for flexible working, etc., and volunteered to take care of their children, etc. then the discussion would look very different, I think.

morningpaper Fri 23-Oct-09 14:01:48

Can't she just put some cheap vinyl down and stay here a bit longer?

This has been fun - Cristina thanks very much, I'm sure we'll keep an eye out for your work in the future.

(And, you know, being received into the Anglican church isn't settling for second-best, seriously, it's really just a more merciful place. Promise. x)

LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 14:02:28

Just to be clear, those two criteria mean you make yourself ineligible for JSA.

morningpaper Fri 23-Oct-09 14:02:47

> I very much doubt our nation is overflowing with women desperate to work and look after each other's kids.

<shudder> you are right about that! grin

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 14:03:24

Cheap vinyl may well be the answer! I really enjoyed this.... thank you ! (...off to gargle)

Penthesileia Fri 23-Oct-09 14:04:29

Ciao ciao. Good luck with the flooring! smile

CristinaOdone Fri 23-Oct-09 14:05:16


Well that was fun - so glad that today was the day I had holiday booked from my rewarding job to look after my rewarding children grin

LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 14:07:33


BTW, she can't claim IS for being at home either because she's in a relationship (with me who does work FT when not on mat leave) and although she's a carer, she's a carer of children and they don't count.

We can't even use her personal tax allowance as a family allowance which would at least acknowledge her existence in the system.

Penthesileia Fri 23-Oct-09 14:12:09

The "problem" with transferring tax allowance to the working partner is that it is - in some respects - unfair on those couples who choose - or are forced - both to work.

Imagine if, in your workplace, you were paying less tax because your DP chose/was able not to work in order to look after your kids; while another person in your workplace pays more tax than you because their partner chooses/has to work.

In fact, talking about tax allowance at all is really only meaningful if you're paying tax. Which the partner not working isn't.

LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 14:15:55

Agree, but we're expected to get by as a family and there is no help or support for one to stay at home and care for kids whereas others at work can claim childcare vouchers etc.

I don't really care, we've budgeted in order to do this (and made sacrifices that friends with two working haven't had to but that's our choice) but it seems unfair that she can't have some vouchers too but I could claim them if I sent the kids to other carers. Or something, could be talking bollocks as haven't had to claim.

Penthesileia Fri 23-Oct-09 14:20:02

Yes, some people benefit from childcare vouchers (though not all, of course). And that's the nub of it.

If childcare vouchers (soon to be a thing of the past anyway) were compulsory across the board, then yes, it would make sense to offer the same tax relief (ie. on £486 per month) to the working partner of a SAHP.

But childcare vouchers are/were sadly not universal.

Penthesileia Fri 23-Oct-09 14:25:46

Qu - Lenin... Assuming you work in a place which offers vouchers, presumably you are still able to claim them, even if your DP is a SAHM?

OrmIrian Fri 23-Oct-09 14:39:56

Dammit! Missed her !


LeninGhoul Fri 23-Oct-09 14:55:47

I think I looked into it and it had to be for registered childcare. I even looked at DP registering but I still don't think we were eligible. Will check again.

ProfessorLaytonIsMyZombieSlave Fri 23-Oct-09 15:20:08

No, you wouldn't be. If your DP registered, and you had another SAHP friend who registered, and you swapped and looked after each other's children, then you'd be eligible. But not for looking after your own.

Shanster Fri 23-Oct-09 17:35:56

fab post morning paper

SorciereAnna Fri 23-Oct-09 17:56:29

Penthesileia - you raise a good point about tax allowances and the "unfairness" to couples where both adults work. Here in France just that problem arises: married couples are taxed jointly and the marginal income generated by second earners is severely eroded by the fact that they have no new allowances to offset against taxation on their second income - and they are taxed at their partner's marginal rate. I know many high-earning women here whose take-home salary barely covers their work outgoings (clothing and domestic help) while their employers are actually paying out a great deal of money to employ them, thereby creating a huge mismatch between what employers feel entitled to demand of employees and what employees feel they need to contribute.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 23-Oct-09 19:42:52

Good grief. I have just scanned the actual report, and will read it more fully at some point. Never has the research in my neck of the woods been so woefully misrepresented.

And the awful irony of the report is that there is some mileage in the basic idea that supporting women's need to care for their families properly is a good thing. But the extrapolation here is a farce.

And what MP said about the poor questioning.

And a woeful misinterpretation of what Giddens is saying.

And deluded that Human Ecology is the same as Sociology.

And she implicates MN, suggesting 'we' (with Alphamummy) have a position that defines SAHMs as 'smug': did you notice?

And a whole load of other nonsense. God, I can't even be bothered with it...

blueshoes Sat 24-Oct-09 21:57:10

Missed her too! grin

Everything morningpaper said, except on anglo-catholicism of which I hold no views.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now