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what has feminism ever done for us?

(391 Posts)
SenoraPostrophe Mon 09-Apr-07 20:41:49

right girls, it's timne for a proper debate which isn';t about blardy weaning.

the motion is this:

feminism has not really acheived anything. women got the vote and were accepted in the workplace because of the world wars and not because of reason. Later, we accepted careers, but ended up neither having our cake nor eating it what with all the housework and childcare we were doing. and male hegemony still reigns supreme.


Caroline1852 Thu 19-Apr-07 09:08:21

I do not feel I am serving a man in a submissive way or even in a fairly submissive way. We are a team. Also I do not feel like I am at war with men ("not what we fought for"?). I think it is misguided to only be in the workplace because you believe in some outdated notion of "equality". All that is required is for women to be allowed to be true to themselves. Some, like me, will choose to stay at home and some, like Xenia, will be working for shiny wonga and paying other (women probably!) to look after their children and homes, in the misguided belief that this is a just fight. I think it is absolutely fine to go to work if that is what you want, but to go to work just because you feel the battle is unwon - that is just nuts!

Judy1234 Thu 19-Apr-07 08:31:32

Just because it confirms women's position as serving men in a fairly submissive way, woman's place in the home, not contriuting to the economy, value just as care and cleaning up, not exactly what women fought for, is it? Also I find it hard to see how women can enjoy it but I accept many do. Also never is the man making career sacrifices, is it? So I think women if they have a choice ought to work at least until we have a fairer society and consolidate female gains a bit better and then they can settle back into domesticity if that's what they really want.

monkeytrousers Thu 19-Apr-07 08:30:04

And you are making a valid contribution to society by caring for your children in the environment proven to be best for them.

Caroline1852 Thu 19-Apr-07 08:17:25

Xenia - it seems reasonable to assume from your last thread that you feel that SAHMs do not make a valid economic contribution. This is an incorrect perception of yours. There are a variety of SAHMs - you seem to lump them all together - as if in your eyes you are either a working mother (and therefore worthy) or a non working mother (totally unworthy). It does not seem to matter to you that some families have made a conscious decision (often quite separate from the hard economic decision making) to have a SAHM. My being at home for my children is worth far more to me personally than the loss of my salary. Luckily we earn enough as a family unit to have been able to make that decision. I don't know why it makes you so uncomfortable.

Judy1234 Thu 19-Apr-07 08:07:37

Life isn't fair anyway and yes it's a lot fairer and better than it was. More and more parents are sharing childcare and involved with their children whatever their sex and more and more women are choosing to work. No, fair doesn't have to mean same but I still think there are far too many marriages where the woman does too much at home - just look at the countless mn threads on it, whether they both work or one stays home.

monkeytrousers Thu 19-Apr-07 01:15:32


monkeytrousers Wed 18-Apr-07 20:34:04

“Some resent the burden of having to be sole financial supporter.” Resent? Can anyone go through live without encountering resentment or without making compromises? Women are not to ‘blame’ for these state of affairs. Sometimes Xenia you sound like a 70s radical feminist, others a female chauvinist pig. An easy ride at the expense of men? Having children and looking after them? That is an easy ride at the expense of men? Is that how you actually see it?

And what does ‘fair’ mean? Things are far fairer now. We’ve been through this before; equality does not have to mean sameness. Would you agree?

Elasticwoman Wed 18-Apr-07 19:20:41

Xenia, I understand the kind of SAHMs you know do not pull their weight and seem to contribute little to the wellbeing of others or the running of the economy. I'm a SAHM and this is what I've done this week

- taught recorders as a voluntary helper at local school (no one would do it if I didn't).

- looked after friend's toddler when her childcare arrangement fell through at short notice, so that she could honour a work commitment.

Tomorrow I'm going to take advantage of some free career development to improve my performance in the 4 hours or so paid work I do per week.

Friday I'm going to spend most of the day at my aged ps in-law who are very elderly and infirm.

This is over and above running my own household and looking after my school-aged children, one of whom, incidentally was home sick for the whole week before the Easter break.

Judy1234 Wed 18-Apr-07 18:32:46

Somie do. Some resent the burden of having to be sole financial supporter. Even if they don't want to they ought to. Many women want to be housewives. That doesn't mean they should. They should be forced out for the their own good into the workplace contributing to the economy etc.

Caroline1852 Wed 18-Apr-07 18:28:35

They can both stay at home and mind the children, and go shopping at Lidl together. Xenia, you are fighting a battle on behalf of men. A battle that does not really exist. I do not know any men who would rather stay at home and mind the children and keep house.

Judy1234 Wed 18-Apr-07 18:24:51

Feminism means fairness ,It means no woman being entitled to assume if she chooses to stay home she can even if her partner would rather like to do so. It does not mean choice and an easy ride for women at the expense of men.

Caroline1852 Wed 18-Apr-07 18:24:15

Men do not feel jittery about working full time - whoever minds the children (wife or paid for care). Noone asks a man how they are managing to combine 3 children with such a demanding job. It is just not something that most men concern themselves with, not cynical on their part.... just their natural inclination.

Caroline1852 Wed 18-Apr-07 18:21:38

I thought we were discussing feminism.

Judy1234 Wed 18-Apr-07 16:40:19

And men should as freely have a choice as women, very important part of a fair country and fair relationships.

Caroline1852 Wed 18-Apr-07 15:55:36

The media are merely tapping into a very jittery generation of current mothers hence front page of Times 2 is often something like "Children in Daycare Grow Up to be Hooligans" or the like. I am pro choice. I have friends who are high fliers at work and friends who are high fliers at home! I think individuals who feel the need to justify their choice - or impose it on their daughters! - are misguided. Freedom is all about having a choice.

kickassangel Wed 18-Apr-07 15:26:36

so now we have washing machines instead of 'staff' those of us who would have been staff are now working in offices, we get to choose whether to be wohm or sahm, but frequently seem to end up in charge of appliances & children as well. we frequently have gulit pored upon us by the media whicever choice we've made, the respect for role of sahm seems to have disappeared, and the cost of housing is so high that we have to work ft no matter what.
however, we do have more choices than men, or at least they're more easily accepted, and we are allowed to wear short skirts without being accused of 'asking for it'
hmm, quite glad of femninism, but think i'd like to see some more respect between individuals, whatever they've chosen, so that we don't feel some roles are valued more than others

Judy1234 Wed 18-Apr-07 14:38:43

I was somewhere abroad where you can hire labour at seven US dollars a day and woe betide if you upset the local economy by going up to 10 dollar as one US lady found to her cost. We just aren't a country with huge difference between rich and poor and very low wages any more, that's all in terms of servants. Plenty of british expatriats enjoy lots of servants abroad.

Also I find my 3 adult children being around is really helpful not because they're scrubbing floors but just in terms of being there, the other children always having someone else around.

Perhaps really there's no previous or future nirvana we should hark back to or want now and just get on with things now ensuring they are reasonably fair. Plenty of things in the past were dreadful, life expectancy of 40, most children dying before 5 etc. We have never had it so good as now.

Caroline1852 Wed 18-Apr-07 13:39:54

In that Channel 4 documentary The 1900s House, the family were very definitely working class but they still had a lady's maid who came in to help out with the chores. Households who had paid for help were in the majority not the minority. In constrast to today. Although we do have more labour saving devices and no fires to set etc so I suppose it is understandable to some degree. How often do you all blue your washing?

kickassangel Wed 18-Apr-07 13:28:53

until the time of electricity in the home, it was common to have some help - even the moderately poor, the equivalaent to someone ina 3 or 4 bed house on a development, one or two adults working, would have ahd a day maid & a genearl man - you only need to read your literature to see this. my gran always had at least 3 staff, though not ft - she had a mother's help, a cleaner & a gardener. my grandparetns weren't poor, but they certainly weren't wealthy & they had 4 children to support, my gran was a sahm and would have been shocked at the idea of working - she worked whilst married, but without children, during the war, but certainly knew better than to take a man's job once the war was over!

casbie Wed 18-Apr-07 12:58:28

i think mothers of the house have always had help - only now we pay for it.

think of granny cooking stew, older daughters/barren sisters helping out with other chores as well as looking after children.

it's only now that we have become so estranged from community life that we have to employ cleaners, gardeners etc whereas before neighbours, family would have done it for free or a nice meal!

talking about roles, i'm always having to explain that actually i've got three children and that's why i'm buying three different pairs of children's shoes or interested in someone's baby. i do feel a bit like i've lost a few limbs, if i haven't got lots of children running around (it's so much fun!).

Judy1234 Wed 18-Apr-07 12:58:13

Even then it wasn't most people. It was the very few who were middle class. Although it's true that abroad where labour is cheap servants are common. India just banned live in servants under 16 I thikn and there are at least one million of them apparently so a massive legal change. My ex nanny her indian family in Africa when they went home there they had lots of African servants, very cheap labour indeed.

May be our households have just got too small. Today in my house are 2 children, 3 adult children, a cleaner (this morning) and a nanny (and me working) so the youngest children always have someone around and about to talk to.

monkeytrousers Wed 18-Apr-07 11:51:03

Edwardian England is hardly a substantial part of the past though, isn't it?

Caroline1852 Wed 18-Apr-07 09:44:07

I don't believe it is true what Xenia says about it being a rare thing in the past to have servants. As I understand it, even the moderately badly off had ladies maids (one each!) who would come in and help with the chores..... and the moderately well off had live in maids. You only need to look at average Victorian or Edwardian terraced housing (not exactly the housing preserve if the solely super wealthy!) to see that the house has been specifically architecturally designed to house a live in maid as well as the family.
I am a stay at home mother and house keeper cum gardener (I do have a weekly cleaner and a gardener once in a while). I have three children and am expecting no. 4. I am professionally qualified (in law) and choose to be at home with my children and running my home (which I love!). I do not feel in the least bit cross when people ask me what I do...... I alwys answer that I am a stay at home mum. Although I do have a friend who answers that she is a Barrister but looking after her children at home "at the moment" (being at home with her family is a job she loves!) when in fact she has not practised at the Bar for 14 years!

monkeytrousers Wed 18-Apr-07 09:38:36

Your imagination on relationships is wonderfully limited Xenia.

Judy1234 Wed 18-Apr-07 09:17:57

Anna, you're a special and rare case that can afford because of the man you live with and your own savings / income to look after a child but not scrub floors. Most women aren't in that position.

You do get a lot of stroppy housewives in 2007 which even though they don't earn a penny are pretty bad at the basic job too and look after the child but don't do any of the other housewife things. I'm not sure that's fair on the man although I suppose if the couple have agreed you can let the house be in as bad a state as you like and we always have run out of milk and food and I will do the cleaning when I get in from work then that's fine if it suits them.

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