Oh FFS. I am so sick of the gender invisibilisation that is going on around Jeremy Hunt's call for families to look after elders

(58 Posts)
BasilBabyEater Fri 18-Oct-13 13:16:26

I'm listening to Jeremy Vine on R2 atm and there's this whole thing about how we as a society should look after elders, can we learn from Asian families etc. and the massive elephant in the room is not being mentioned - that when men talk about how "families" look after elders, what they mean is, the women in the families look after elders. Men have no intention of doing the actual work - they blithely know they won't have to do it, because the automatic assumption is that women will do it.

And yet these 2 men on the radio are talking about this with narry a mention of this fact.

And before the weakheads come on and say "oh but I know a man who does it" - yes dear, that's nice, but he's in a minority. It's generally women who do this labour and that's why cabinet ministers like Jeremy Hunt can have the bloody cheek to stand there and lecture "families" that they should be doing it while meaning women.

louloutheshamed Fri 18-Oct-13 15:24:18

I agree. I wonder if Jeremy hunt would be prepared to give up his job to care for an elderly parent.

EachDay Fri 18-Oct-13 15:48:15

I think that's a bit unfair, I have a male friend who is very involved in the care of his mother and my Dad did loads to make sure his MIL could stay in her own home.

I think the bigger issue is that "elders" don't necessarily want looking after by their families. It was mentioned this morning, that elderly people living with their families are among the loneliest in our society.

My Grandmother absolutely resisted living with one of her 3 children on the basis that she would be stuck in the house all day, away from her friends and would see no-one outside the familiy. She preferred to go into a home near where she had raised her children and still had many friends. They (and their children where they had stayed local) visited often and she was able to continue a lot of her social life, including charity work, even after she could no longer live independently.

msrisotto Fri 18-Oct-13 15:51:44

I used to work with carers and can say that men made up, roughly 25-30% of carers so I would agree that this is a gendered issue.

msrisotto Fri 18-Oct-13 15:52:49

Often older people fiercely resist living with their children however they still clearly need help and it can result in their children spending half their lives travelling to take care of them, neglecting themselves and their own families.

tumbletumble Fri 18-Oct-13 15:57:33

I think you have a point, OP.

I have no doubt that I'll be doing more than my brother to help our parents as they get older (both in good health at the moment).

However, part (although not all) of the reason for this is that they have been incredibly helpful and supportive to me in recent years when I have been looking after small children. So, when the time comes, I will be glad to return the favour. They've never helped my brother as much (because his PILs are very involved - also for geographical reasons).

That's not exactly a sexist thing is it?

fridayfreedom Fri 18-Oct-13 16:01:09

Nobody mentioned carer stress which is a huge issue, or a capping of the help you can receive from adult services or the fact that having small children and elderly relatives to care for is hugely difficult.
And what if you actually don't get on with the elderly relative. They/ we are not all destined to be sweet little old men or women.
How about if the elderly person abused you as a child??
The circumstances are endless but the programme just focused on people being selfish if they didnt take an elderly parent it, far too simpistic and such views are likely to cause great guilt to many who for whatever reason have given up or not gone down this route.

Yama Fri 18-Oct-13 16:03:52

Yes, I think you are right Basil.

However, YABU (I know this isn't AIBU) for listening to Jeremy Vine. What on earth possessed you?

I don't know what will happen in my family because the likeliest out of the four of us children to care for our parents was my younger brother. Sadly he died though. I generally resist gendered expectations.

SinisterSal Fri 18-Oct-13 16:03:56

Yes, reminds me of some environmenatlist who gave me the rage who said 'we' should be using cloth nappies instead of disposables. All v worthy but who'll be up to their elbows in shit? Clue not him.

newgirl Fri 18-Oct-13 16:13:03

Hear hear

Jh parents must be heading towards elderly - is he caring for them?

CaptChaos Fri 18-Oct-13 20:20:54

I worked for a while on Elderly Care wards within a mental health hospital.

On the one hand, I wholeheartedly agree that we as a society and not just as women should take better care of our elders. However, does Jeremy Hunt suggest how we deal with the huge number of cases of elder abuse? The lack of support given to women carers who are caring for very frail or very demented relatives? The way elders are fobbed off when accessing medical care (a 7 hour wait for an X-ray with a broken wrist, anyone)?

I looked after my DGPs while they were in their last illnesses and I don't regret a second of it, however, I know that I will be expected to do the same with my mother, a woman who made my childhood awful and who still belittles me to this day, because my DB wouldn't even consider it as 'his' responsibility. Cowardly as it sounds, we are actually looking at emigrating in order to not have to do it.

Grennie Fri 18-Oct-13 20:35:45

I agree this is a gendered issue. I have various friends with an elderly parent and it is always the daughter, not the brother, who seems to do the bulk of the care.

So many families rely on 2 incomes. Jeremy is relying on the outdated view that a woman can give up her paid jonb and look after elderly parents instead. Rememnber, these days people rarely go into homes unless they need care throughout the day.

I totally agree OP. And I could bet my savings that DB will not step forward to help if our parents need it.

I'm already a carer to my husband who has MS.

Takver Fri 18-Oct-13 21:52:03

Its a gendered issue. Its also a class issue - obviously caring is always hard and relentless, but if you're already struggling in minimum wages jobs / out of work it adds yet another layer.

Basically, he's a rich Tory bloke and he hasn't got a fucking clue angry

NeedlesCuties Fri 18-Oct-13 21:56:27

I agree, very much.

Reminds me of slamming of parents when things go wrong, ie. 'mothers'.

In my personal experience it's the women who run run run to care for elderly sick relations and also help with the younger family members too. It's expected from the women that they will do this, and handily for the men as they also expect it too.

Trying to remove the gender from the discussion is missing a huge elephant in the room. It's a very gendered issue, sadly.

kim147 Fri 18-Oct-13 22:01:04

My Grandma died recently. She lived with her daughter (my aunt) who is also very ill. My (male) cousin was the one who lived closest. Every teatime he would go to their house and make tea for them and care for them. My Dad used to come up every few weeks to provide respite care and to look after them.

Phaserstostun Fri 18-Oct-13 22:03:10

Men have no intention of doing the actual work - they blithely know they won't have to do it, because the automatic assumption is that women will do it.

Well, my mum only has me and my brother, so that's her fucked. Serves her right, I suppose.

AveryJessup Fri 18-Oct-13 22:04:06

Well said, OP. In Asian families where care within the home is the norm, it is almost always the duty of the women of the family, not the men, so when someone says 'we should all be like Asian families!!!' they should realize that they are trying to push the burden of care onto women's shoulders. For two successful professional men, debating care in the home is hypothetical as it is extremely unlikely that either of them will end up being unpaid carers. Their wives or sisters might though.

Also, we've been there before. In Western societies it was also the norm to have women take care of elderly parents. Then society changed, women started working more outside of the home, families got smaller so there were fewer children to share the care with and so we set up care homes and nursing facilities. It suits our society as it is and suits the position of women in our society.

kim147 Fri 18-Oct-13 22:05:18

My dad also cared for my mum for 8 years after she had a stroke. It took a massive toll on him but it was what "was expected of himself".

Phaserstostun Fri 18-Oct-13 22:07:27

Kim, please don't spoil the narrative. Perhaps it marks you out as a 'weakhead', whatever that is.

Grennie Fri 18-Oct-13 22:10:41

Spouses often care for each other, including a husband looking after a wife. But men seem to rarely be the ones doing most of the care for elderly parents - especially if he has a sister.

BasilBabyEater Fri 18-Oct-13 22:45:51

Kim and Phasertostund I acknowledged at the beginning of the thread that there are exceptions precisely because I'm not interested on the "but I know a man who did it" de-railing. I think it weak headed to argue that because there are always exceptions, something isn't a gender issue. And yes I agree it's a class issue too

AutumnMadness Fri 18-Oct-13 22:49:17

I agree that men often care for their female partners, and in this process assume many/all of the traditional female roles inside the house. When it comes to inter-generational care, however, things are much more imbalanced.

But this is beside the point. I was incandescent with rage today after I read Jeremy Hunt's opus in the Guardian. I just cannot believe that a man with so little knowledge about basic things actually made it to a high position in government. We are being governed by muppets.

kim147 Fri 18-Oct-13 22:52:43

I did not say it was not a gender issue.

I just wanted to give some personal examples where men have stepped up to the mark.

KissesBreakingWave Fri 18-Oct-13 22:53:22

Well, with my grandma, it's the grandson (me) doing most of the time. Turns out that being self-employed with a big chunk of my work I can do while she naps I can be around most of the time.

Plus with her dementia, me being able to remember stuff from when I was her first-ever grandchild and we had loads of in-jokes between us helps keep her calm.

Seemed the most sensible way to go about it when Granddad died a few months back, and so I cracked on. Because, well, it's Grandma. Nearest thing to a mum I ever had. (Long story)

When I'm off-shift (I've two sisters, my mother, and an uncle who share the time I'm not there) and mention why I'm not out and about as much I don't half get a load of smoke blown up my arse over it. Can't help thinking if I was a girl it'd be taken for granted.

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