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Women have their little careers till they have babies. Then they do as little as possible, preferably not working at all after that

(532 Posts)
StealthPolarBear Wed 03-Apr-13 13:27:24

I am infuriated by this attitude which seems to be prevalent. After women have had babies they only work if they have to, and go part time if they can. But I can't put into words why I work - why wouldn't I? I work for the same reasons as I did before I had children. I work for the same reasons as DH works.
Either of us could give up work and we'd cope. But that was true pre-children. Women continuing to work FT seems to be a slur on their man's ability to 'provide'.

NumTumMum Wed 03-Apr-13 18:47:12

Yes, SatsukiKusukabe, that is the crux of it.

naomilpeb Wed 03-Apr-13 18:49:39

Perhaps we all tend to hear criticism more than people agreeing with us, for our own reasons of guilt/sensitivity/defensiveness! It may well be, seeker, that I tend to remember more the comments criticising my choice to work full-time, then criticisms I may have overheard (or shamefully might even have said myself without realising how they could be taken blush) of people who choose to work outside the home part-time or stay at home...

naomilpeb Wed 03-Apr-13 18:52:22

What SatsukiKusukabe said, definitely.

SatsukiKusukabe Wed 03-Apr-13 18:52:30

Yes, but that's because you are (or were at the time) a sahm. So you aren't going to get abuse directed at wohm. As far as I can tell from the stuff I read (and MN bun fights threads) it seems pretty equal, (Im a sahm). certain people can be quite vocal though against sahp, cough cough xenia

fluffywhitekittens Wed 03-Apr-13 19:04:51

What Satsuki said smile

I would love it if we could split the responsibility for earning and childcare between me and DH and he would too.
But he earns considerably more than me - even though I have a higher level of education- so it has to be him who goes to work unless I went too but then we would have to pay for childcare and probably wouldn't be much better off financially anyway.

bunnybing Wed 03-Apr-13 19:11:37

Not sure I recognise what you're talking about - I know plenty of SAHDs and dads who work part time.

Most couples I know who haven't had children, ie they're beyond child-bearing age - have either gone part-time (one or both of them), or are self-employed and take looong holidays, or in one case took very early retirement (aged 50 in my neighbour's case).

But no one judges them as they haven't had children.

seeker Wed 03-Apr-13 19:16:27

Maybe WOHMs are more likely to complain about tiredness or lack of time or missing assemblies or how much child care costs, and people respond by saying "well, you did choose go out to work" or some variation thereon, which they hear as more critical than it's intended to be?

StealthPolarBear Wed 03-Apr-13 19:20:35

But it's usually when people ask how my job is going, and I say really well, they then ask how I cope working ft. Or when we,re talking about someone else and "obviously" she'll be returning part time. It's not even judging. It's assumptions about mothers and work

blueberryupsidedown Wed 03-Apr-13 19:21:53

I think for me, becoming a parent has completely changed my perspective on stuff. I mean, work, being constantly on the go, travelling, going out, being part of the rat race, constantly thinking about money, the next job up, the next step up. I just realised I'd had enough of all that. Some people just wanted to slow down when they have the kids. But having said that, many other mums I know have made the decision to 'slow down' because they are financially stable. I have investments, two flats rented out, no mortgage on the flats or on our home. No dept. And savings and investments. And my pension is sorted. There's something to say about being an 'older' parent....

blueberryupsidedown Wed 03-Apr-13 19:22:28

debt! not dept.

badguider Wed 03-Apr-13 19:31:48

The whole thing starts very young I'd say. I love my DH dearly but the poor sod had a strange upbringing as his largely absent father (divorced from his mum) is a real social climber and really values status and income particularly in his sons (not at all his daughters).
I do my job cause I bloody love it. DH got into his profession because it is a traditional "profession" with "good prospects" to provide for a family in a very macho way and so he earns more than me. And, he's in a profession that wouldn't entertain the idea of p/t working.

I think that he's been done the bigger disservice by these gender expectations. I am happy in my job I love which I now do freelance and can choose to do p/t or f/t. He's not quite so happy and certainly has no flexibility.

badguider Wed 03-Apr-13 19:33:06

Feminism IMO will only be a success when it liberates men from gender expectations as well as women.

StealthPolarBear Wed 03-Apr-13 19:41:51

Not convinced by that. Feminism is about women and their place in society. Changes brought about by feminism will affect men of course but not sure advancing the rights of men can be considered to be a measure of the success of feminism.

exoticfruits Wed 03-Apr-13 19:44:33

A mother's place is in the wrong! You are criticised if you decide to stay at home-it works both ways.

StealthPolarBear Wed 03-Apr-13 19:48:54

But this isn't about out and out criticism. This is not a bun fight. It's about the assumption that a woman's career will take a back seat following children. It may. But there shouldn't be an automatic assumption that her career is the disposable one, IMO.

SatsukiKusukabe Wed 03-Apr-13 19:52:17

Not convinced by that. Feminism is about women and their place in society. Changes brought about by feminism will affect men of course but not sure advancing the rights of men can be considered to be a measure of the success of feminism.

You can rephrase it but all that means is that we respect "women's" roles in this world, because as soon as they garner respect men will want to do them too. It's only because women are seen as "less than" that being a sahp or a care worker or a nurse or a teacher are seen as low status jobs. So basically it just means give enough respect to everyone's job in the world. Not in a MRA way.

SatsukiKusukabe Wed 03-Apr-13 19:55:23

What I am trying (badly) to say is feminism wont have done if its job if all that happens is women move in to jobs worthy of respect (traditionally male employment) because by doing that you are still saying that the male centric way is the best way. We have to see all roles as equally good. And the best test of that will be when men start taking on more traditionally female roles.

happyfrogger Wed 03-Apr-13 20:06:27

Personally I think some people should perhaps think about being a little less uptight about 'presumptuous' questions about how a mother manages working full time post-children when a father is not.

My two penneth:

1. In the overwhelming majority of couples having children, the mother takes a fair chunk of maternity leave, be it 3, 6 or 12 months. Therefore it is a PERFECTLY reasonable question/conversation to ask her how she plans to adjust after such a leave of absence which is SIGNIFICANTLY longer than the week or two fathers usually take, on top of a huge life change. It is perfectly reasonable for a couple to continue with the adjustment of a mother being the primary carer, when she:

a) MAY still be breastfeeding
b) MAY think it's appropriate/nice/normal/enjoyable for her to put her baby to bed as she has done throughout maternity leave
c) MAY have had an epiphany after a more profound change in lifestyle/work/life balance than her husband and decide that reduced hours / PT / SAHM is the RIGHT choice at THIS TIME for her family.

And these are far more likely points for mums than dads.

2. If you have a job that requires a commute into a city, a NORMAL full time role can easily mean leaving the house 7.30/8am and returning at 7pm or later. We in the UK work long hours - I don't think by trimming your hours by as little as an hour each side can be fairly called p/t or on the 'mummy track' to be honest. My colleagues think I am part time at 8-4, but I'm fairly sure my 7-5 out of the house is a fairly full day!! We need to take a more reasonable view of what is full time and perhaps observe that working from dawn to dusk and all evening when you get home doesn't make anyone a hero (imo).

People are often just interested/making conversation, let it go. And yes, some people are arses and make rude comments/judge because they do it differently / did it differently 'in their day' - but people are judgey about everything in life.

Why should we be so super sensitive?

(And yes, I also roll my eyes when I leave the office at 4pm and someone asks me if I'm part time these days. Because it's a juggle, and because I'm tired, and because until you have kids and try to figure out how YOU want to manage it, you have no concept of how challenging the decisions and planning (logistical, financial and otherwise) can be.)

'Tis life smile

Gosh I feel like I'm in another world reading these experiences. We have never had any negative reaction from anyone about our working choices.

I worked very hard to gain qualifications and progress my career, plus I find 24/7 childcare, well, a bit dull, and far more demanding than any paid job I've ever had. There was never any question that I wouldn't return to work. I've never had to justify my choices to anyone, not my boss, parents, colleagues, employees. Many of my colleagues are part time for different reasons, and I work with hundreds of volunteers who all have varied working patterns.

Finally, I don't work for financial gain - currently the same amount each month pretty much goes on childcare. But that won't be for ever.

StealthPolarBear Wed 03-Apr-13 20:30:14

So some people are being uptight about having their careers dismissed? There's a shock.

stealthsquiggle Wed 03-Apr-13 20:38:08

The test of "would you say the same to a man?" is a perfectly valid one, IMO. Once biological factors (recovery from childbirth, BF) are no longer an issue, why should one parent be any more or less necessary to a child hmm? There are many valid reasons why one or other parent working more is a sensible choice for a family, but none of them are gender based, surely?

happyfrogger Wed 03-Apr-13 20:40:01

I don't believe people are categorically having their career's dismissed - and that is the sort of reaction I was seeking to illustrate.

I think people can often be particularly sensitive about many aspects of motherhood. For instance, several of my breastfeeding girlfriends commented bizarrely that they were just willing people to comment when they fed in public. Just to give them opportunity to 'say their piece' and justify their choice. And there are always countless instances of people here looking to provoke a reaction over a myraid of topics.

So yes, personally I believe people like the opportunity to vehemently justify the choices they make, and often wrongly view other people's comments/questions/observations as being judgier than they were ever intended.

So when my parents or friends ask me after almost 11 months of mat leave 'are you planning on going back to work full time?' I think I would be a little OTT to say 'why the hell wouldn't I?' - for many reasons, some of which I mentioned in my last. I would (did) respond with a normal rational conversation about the challenges of work life balance and what we had decided to do with our family.

Because (I believe without agenda) they were simply interested enough to ask.

StealthPolarBear Wed 03-Apr-13 20:42:17

So you don't see why asking the woman of the couple "how do you manage working full time with children?" Is implying thatbchildcare is her issue?

StealthPolarBear Wed 03-Apr-13 20:43:53

No problem with people asking the question. But I do challenge people making the assumption that women only work if they have to for financial reasons. In fact any one who thinks women need an excuse to work.

SatsukiKusukabe Wed 03-Apr-13 20:45:20

froggy the op was about assumptions, not questions as such, I don't think?

Like "Obviously froggy will be going back part time"

Or no point in training a 25 year old woman properly as she'll just get up duffed and never come back etc.

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