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Am I imagining this?

(48 Posts)
museumum Tue 14-Jul-15 16:21:43

I honestly don't know if i'm imagining this or not.

It has been seeming to me more and more lately that there's a very different attitude to men and women who are self employed, particularly thif they are parents.

I seem to keep reading about women who are self-employed so they can do the school run and be flexible around childhood events and illnesses etc.

While simultaneously reading about men who are self-employed who can't possibly take any of the childcare burden either routinely or in emergencies because 'they don't get paid of they don't work' and 'they're self employed so they have to work long hours'.

Has anybody else noticed this?

Is it the nature of the type of SE work that men do vs women (e.g. there'll be more tradesmen than tradeswomen, more female copywriters than male)?
Or is it because some men use self-employment to avoid family duties?
Or because self employment appeals to male workaholics?

If SE is so wonderfully family friendly and flexible for women then why not for men?

Or, as i asked originally am I imaging this all?

[I have to declare that I am in the category of women who are S-E and therefore do more of the child drops/pickups through choice. Though on the flipside it balances as I do travel for work at times whereas my employed dh never travels overnight for work].

scallopsrgreat Tue 14-Jul-15 23:00:29

I think that generally men can never be asked to take time off for children, whether they are self-employed or otherwise hmm. And men don't seem too bothered about challenging this. I wonder why.

No I don't think you are imagining it. It is always amazing how many women manage to get flexible hours but their partners amazingly can't. Because obviously men's jobs are more important than women's. So I think there are elements of avoiding family duties. And it is more acceptable for men to be workaholics, even when children come along.

Yops Tue 14-Jul-15 23:29:07

Sorry it took me so long to reply, but I was wading through all the evidence presented so far. Hmm.

When the next thread on here is started about why so many women won't self-identify as feminists, and they state a reason as 'feminists are seen as men-bashing', have a look back here at this discussion.

Hamsolo Tue 14-Jul-15 23:36:05

I think it's ok to share experience without jumping to accusations of "man bashing". otherwise no one would be able to compare experience, ever.

Who knows, maybe everyone is going to reply saying that the OP is indeed imagining it...

BakingCookiesAndShit Tue 14-Jul-15 23:49:55

Yops, I'm not seeing where your post is relevant?

If you don't agree with OP, she is open to being told that you don't agree, presumably with examples or actual data to support your refutation. I'm not sure a snotty 'feminists hate men' reply was really warranted.

You're usually far more on the ball, why the sudden descent into 'feminists are seen as men-bashing' weirdness?


Yops Tue 14-Jul-15 23:51:18

Okay - let's see.

BakingCookiesAndShit Tue 14-Jul-15 23:53:11

Okay - let's see.

Are you drunk?

Yops Wed 15-Jul-15 00:07:01

Because I saw this at tea-time, and I'd written a big long riposte. And then I thought, no - let's see if anyone picks up on this. Otherwise I look like a big, bad man just picking holes. And there was nothing until scallops rode in with all the sarcastic 'men are so important' shit.

I am not an anti-feminist. I have never gone along with all that 'you're all just men-hating hairy-legged etc etc etc' rubbish. But what I see here is an OP who has 'read some articles'. So, where are they from? Who wrote them? Do they have an angle? What are their sources? Then the op states that in fact she has chosen a specific split of childcare with her partner. Who is to say that the people in the articles did not make similarly informed choices?

I'd have taken more time out of work for childcare. Unfortunately, it was never a legally-granted option for me, or for millions of fathers. Similarly, I know women who took maternity leave, and then never went back to work after the kids grew up, because frankly they were quite comfortable letting hubby earn. But I changed nappies, did the midnight feeds, the homework, the parents evenings, wiped up the mess, washed the clothes etc etc etc. And so do millions of dads, as well as holding down a job. There are women on here who's partners do not, and I think it colours their judgement.

What I don't do is judge all women as a single entity because some make one choice. Everybody's circumstances are different.

Yops Wed 15-Jul-15 00:08:06

The 'okay, let's see'...was in response to Hamsolo. Your post got in the way, baking.

AskBasil Wed 15-Jul-15 00:13:55

"I'd have taken more time out of work for childcare. Unfortunately, it was never a legally-granted option for me, or for millions of fathers. "

Women had to fight for that legally granted option.

Funny that men have shown so little interest in fighting for it. I'm sure if they'd fought for the properly paid paternity leave as hard as they did for the right to not pay proper maintenance when the CSA was first set up, they'd have that legally granted option by now.

tabulahrasa Wed 15-Jul-15 00:21:15

I think yes it's partly to do with more women doing office type work and men doing work that's less flexible about when it can be DP is SE in an industry with next to no women and a huge part of his work is repairing things within a set time from it breaking down, it's not flexible at all.

Yes I think it also appeals to workaholics.

And yes some men use work (any) as an excuse not to engage in parts of family life they don't like.

But I think it's also to do with men being primary earners and women's jobs being secondary to that...even when actually they're not, it's still often regarded as that.

Yops Wed 15-Jul-15 00:23:58

People had to fight, Basil. It's always people. Westminster, where lobbying is done, where MPs propose bills, where laws are passed - populated by men and women. And I didn't lobby for the right not to pay maintenance, so I guess I'm neutral.

In fact, at the moment, I'm in work. Knocking off in 9 minutes, to go home to bed, where my family are. I'm out working because i just love late nights, shift pattern detrimental to my health and longevity, and disturbed sleep patterns. Well, that and saving to send my daughter to university in September. Just another shit, stay-away dad.

Yops Wed 15-Jul-15 00:34:26

And that's me done. Off home now. I look forward to reading critiques of the OP's deductions in the morning. Hamsolo was right, I shouldn't pre-judge. Goodnight.

DadWasHere Wed 15-Jul-15 06:45:40

I think that generally men can never be asked to take time off for children, whether they are self-employed or otherwise. And men don't seem too bothered about challenging this. I wonder why.

Not sure Scallops, because men are happier whistling at the coal face than changing a nappy at home? Anyway, bad jokes aside, I can have a go at mansplaining why poor Yops head exploded. I think a lot of it spins on the notion that Providing and Nurturing are the two critical pillars of raising a healthy child. Any arguments with that? While arguably equally important they are still not viewed in the same way by each gender, even today. The woman who raised me put her efforts into Providing and very little into Nurturing. People who worry about Nurturing are already in the luxurious position of being able to feed and clothe their children. But I digress.

A wife says to her husband 'I want you to take time off or restructure your work to help out more with our child.' Variations of this get said a lot. But would a dad be expected to say these same words to a mother? Doubtful, by virtue of motherhood, women are pre-assumed by society to automatically alter their work habits to favour the pillar of Nurturing. The extended assumption is that men do not want to do this, because they as commonly dont do it, but that is really not the case- because there are two pillars to raising a child.

Since Work=Providing men often hear 'I want you to take time off or restructure your work to help out more with our child.' translated as: 'I want you to restructure how you Provide and put more effort into Nurturing, take a break from Providing so you can Nurture more'. They hear it as profound cognitive dissonance. It would be like a dad saying to a mum 'I want you to restructure how you Nurture to put more effort into Providing- Nurture less so you can Provide more.' It sounds alien in a wealthy society, people cant even move into such a head space any more. Moreover a man would be inherently reluctant to say it, because it does not just share a role, it admits he is not providing enough, the gender mirror to feeling 'torn' as a working mother.

Anyway I dont want to drone on and on, the upshot is that men go out and Provide while not enjoying it half as much as some want to think and get told they are privileged and inflexible for their efforts for not serving the pillar of Nurturing enough. Yops head just exploded.

BakingCookiesAndShit Wed 15-Jul-15 08:16:21

My heartfelt apologies for getting in the way of your posts Yops.

Sent during my break, from my early early shift, which means I won't get to see DS for most of today and is similarly detrimental to my health due to interrupted sleep patterns. Living the dream.

skrumle Wed 15-Jul-15 08:52:19

But what I see here is an OP who has 'read some articles'

can i ask where you got that from? cause i read the OP and assumed it was MN posts/other online forums she was referrring to. although maybe that's because I feel as though I've read several threads recently where the explanation for why the male OH can't do his share of childcare for sick children is that he's self-employed.

scallopsrgreat Wed 15-Jul-15 08:59:46

The OP doesn't have to present evidence for you Yops. She started a discussion. Based on experience and trends she had been seeing. And actually you don't have to look too far to see the points she is making play out. there are plenty of threads on here by women who are juggling jobs (SE or otherwise) and childcare and family life whilst their husbands aren't contributing. They are able to get on with their working life because their work "can't" be flexible. You also find on those threads that people will try and rearrange the woman's entire life to fit in children and work but happily accept that the man can't be flexible.

And I don't think it has anything to do with office jobs. I'm married to someone in the emergency services and he can still take the appropriate time off when children are sick etc. He also worked with someone who was a single father and he arranged completely flexible working. Because he had to. I grant you that some jobs are more difficult and some SE ones even more so. But they are also presented as more difficult.

Oh and I wasn't "man-bashing" I was bashing the attitudes that allow this to continue.

ChunkyPickle Wed 15-Jul-15 09:04:24

DP works a normal, full time office job, with a 1 hour commute. Until the end of last year, I freelanced when I could - fitting in around our kids (the second of which was a bit of an accident, but we both wanted kids as much as each other)

At the end of the year, my latest freelancing gig came to an end, DS2 was turning 1, and I said that I'd like to go back to work now. I applied for a load of stuff, I got a load of interviews, and I got a number of very good job offers (all equal to, or better than DP's current job). I actually accepted one in January, then had to retract the acceptance when it became clear that despite supportive noises, DP was not going to apply for flexible working, he wouldn't even guarantee that he could always even be around to pick up or drop off the kids on some fixed days. Yes, he has live support duties, and he's a manager, but he also has kids, and we could have arranged for him to always do the dropoffs for example and only be 20 mins later starting each day.

Luckily, I'm very good at what I do, and I've managed to find an even better job, that's allowing me to work from home and some odd hours (it's with a US company, so this is actually to their advantage), allowing me to do dropoffs and pickups still. This job actually pays more than his, although there is an admin overhead because I have to run my own company.

I still cover when our childcare is on holiday though, and it's my job that gives if a kid is sick, and if we both have a commitment, it's generally his that wins. Even though, as a full time employee, he has far more rights and coverage than I do.

So I don't know. In my case, this holds true. DP sees his job as super important and uninterruptible, and I just have to cope. I think this must hold true in other relationships, especially when the woman's job is seen as supplementary, or earning less than the mans, and so less important.

scallopsrgreat Wed 15-Jul-15 09:15:40

Does it have something to do with women thinking about these things before they have children as well? Positioning themselves. I am thinking of a friend of mine who very much did this and now is SE around school hours. Your thought processes are very much around what's best for the children ChunkyPickle, how can they be accommodated. Your partner's isn't.

The question is why don't men think like this? Why don't they position themselves and give up opportunities (or even just work as a team and help their partners have some opportunities - as ChunkyPickle illustrated)when children come on the scene?

ChunkyPickle Wed 15-Jul-15 09:45:11

I don't know. There's no doubt that DP loves the kids as much as I do, and yet when it comes to any kind of planning around them, or ultimate responsibility, it falls to me - and that seems to be a very usual thing in families.

I also know that I prioritise spending time with the DCs - that being able to do dropoffs or pickups is something that's desirable for me - I think the kids like it, I think it's good for them, whereas DP is very used to just leaving them with me and going to work. I'm the one that's had to drop a screaming toddler off at a childminder while he sobs my name and strains to come back into my arms - and that's tough - but then I'm also the one that picks them up and has them run beaming towards me yelling 'mummy!!' and that just can't be beaten.

Perhaps its that - that I've seen the unshaking adoration that they have for me, and will prioritise maintaining that over a lot of other things, whereas he's not experienced the highs and lows in quite the same way, so stays more detached and so has different priorities?

I don't know. He certainly misses them when he's away - if he goes away for an overnight, then without fail, I'll find that he's decided that we'll all sleep together in the big bed that night for instance.

tabulahrasa Wed 15-Jul-15 09:49:30

I don't think the type of job is irrelevant though...the difference being if someone is self employed then there's no cover for them.

Contrary to what his customers think, nobody dies if DP can't make a job within a few hours of a breakdown, but not only does he lose that job, he loses the customer and future jobs.

I sometimes do his office work...I can do invoicing in the middle of the night if it suits me to and it makes no difference, his role just doesn't work like that.

He does also see his job as super important...but having being the one that's dealt with his customers, actually, sometimes, it would have huge financial implications for us if he wasn't available when customers needed him.

ChunkyPickle Wed 15-Jul-15 10:04:19

The type of job is important - but isn't that (not always - sometimes there's no other work) a kind of selfishness? To take a job that will make those demands that have to be answered, rather than a different job?

Just as I've taken up freelancing, rather than a 9-5 - even though the 9-5 would be easier in many ways - in order to be able to look after our kids?

TheVeryThing Wed 15-Jul-15 10:17:48

Chunky that sounds incredibly frustrating for you. I would feel hugely resentful towards my OH in that situation.
I do think that most men are not conditioned to organise their lives around children in the way that women are.
I am slightly unusual in that I have always been the main earner in our family (though not a high flyer by any means).
My DH is self-employed in a creative industry and his main source of income has been hit hard during the recession (we are in Ireland and things have been ever worse here than in the UK).

In the meantime, I have had a promotion which means frequent nights away from home and DH has had to step up at home and now covers more of the sick days, CM holidays etc than I do. We share drop offs/pick ups pretty equally.

Even though we are under financial pressure and life can be hectic, I do feel that these circumstances have made our relationship more equal and the dcs know that Dad can do just as much as Mum.

In spite of this, I am still the one who arranges the childcare, sorts out who is covering what etc and it frustrates me that DH never looks ahead or takes responsibility for this.

We are also paying for more childcare than we need and it is costing us money for him to still pursue a career, and be available for /in pursuit of work.

I feel quite certain that a woman in his position would not be paying for any childcare and would be expected to work around the children.

tabulahrasa Wed 15-Jul-15 10:35:46

"To take a job that will make those demands that have to be answered, rather than a different job?"

Hmm, that sort of job tends to be skilled labour though, still using my DP as an example, he started as an apprentice as a teenager and is now kind of stuck in that that's just the way his industry works, his skills aren't transferable without training for different qualifications and he doesn't make enough to save and do that, but the drop in income to something unskilled would mean no mortgage payments unless I could find something better paid in time.

He could be employed rather than self employed...but it's not much more flexible other than that yes, he could get time off for certain things, he still couldn't work round school runs though.

Not many 17 year olds are thinking about child friendly hours when they set off on that sort of career path.

I do think that women in that position are often the ones that would take the financial hit, I did at the point where it could have been either of us and yes partly because he thought his job was more important hmm but I do think the type of job does make a difference as well.

NoRockandRollFun Wed 15-Jul-15 10:38:42

OP I think you have framed your questions in such a way that so you will only get posters who agree with you. This attitude with specific regards to employment status is not something I have noticed TBH. More people are self employed now than there ever have been in the past, this might be why it's on your radar.

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