Tuesday, June 07, 2005


I have never been hugely into feminism. Not that I haven't lived the life of a "liberated" woman (worn trousers, voted, worked, pushed trucks, hitchhiked, etc..), it's just that I haven't felt the need to be a flag-waving, bra-burning, man hating, over the top kind of feminist.

Don't get me wrong I have always been a bit of a political animal, I marched with CND, held hands round Greenham common, rocked against racism, spoke at the Labour party women's conference (that was a long time ago!), dropped out, turned on (or was it off?) and tuned in! But in the 80's I didn't feel the need to be a feminist - we had a female prime minister for chrissakes.

Germaine greer is telling us that we need feminism now as much as ever and I found myself agreeing with her. Nowadays though, I don't think it's men that are the problem but the amount that is expected of women.

I first started to notice it when I became a parent, and then a single parent. Women are expected to work, take care of the kids, provide the meals, do the housework, shop and look sexy and if all that wasn't enough women with kids are discriminated against in the workplace. We are penalised for having time off when the kids are ill when in fact we are just being good parents - I used to work in a nursery and know how miserable it is for those children whose parents bring them in knowing they are unwell because they have too get to an important meeting. The other side of that coin is parents like me who work in a part time job so they can be there for their children - we are poorly paid and undervalued, we earn no national insurance credits and are not entitled to sick pay, redundancy pay or maternity allowance.

And it's worse for single parents we are expected to be both mother and father to our kids, do all the work of the household with no help and are put under extra pressure to return to full time work as soon as possible. The irony is that if we do, our children will become latchkey kids with noone at home to look out for them and a high chance of going off the rails. The reality is that it is very hard to be a good parent if you are a single parent working full time (unless of course you have a fantastically supportive family living round the corner). You have to put your kids in before and after school care, pick them up at 6 when you are all knackered, and at the weekend you spend all your time trying to catch up with the things you didn't have time for during the week - like cleaning, washing, ironing, shopping etc...

I think that society needs to take the pressure off women a bit....if that's not too radical

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