A woman’s right to choose.

It has come to my attention, in readiness for International Women’s Day, that amongst all the gender equality speeches of late and women championing women in work; we are failing in one VERY IMPORTANT area – championing women’s parental choices.  I am very pro choice – by that I mean I respect a woman’s decision to return to work after having children and I respect mothers who stay at home to look after children.  So when reading a national newspaper the other evening I was appalled to read an article written by a WOMAN actively trying to destroy a woman’s choice to go back to work after her maternity leave!!  

Let me put this into context, the woman in the article was Labour Shadow Cabinet minister Rachel Reeves who is due to have a baby in June – weeks after the General Election which could see her become the Minister for Work and Pensions should Labour win.  Rachel has decided that she will come back to work in September, so effectively she will be cutting her maternity leave short, but this could be dependent on the election outcome.  So far this is nothing out of the ordinary, except this situation has prompted some concern and a question has been raised by both male and females…how can a woman with two children run a powerful job full time?  EXCUSE ME??  Did I just wake up in an alternate universe where women with children are back in the kitchen whilst the men and the childless are keeping the economy afloat?  

The female writer in question even took it one step further and said that she wouldn’t trust Rachel Reeves to make a decision if she has been up all night with a crying infant.  By this point in the article the air was slightly colourful in my house because this woman has completely missed the point…and she dared call herself a feminist.  She believed that Rachel Reeves was giving the wrong impression to women (apart from us ordinary folk who had to go back to work for financial reasons), and that as an elite woman whose husband earned a lot of money that she should set an example amongst the elite and take a career break.  

So in reality, this writer is basically saying that there should now be a divide and if you have worked hard to get yourself into a senior position (therefore making you elite) you should be setting an example to the world and allow your career to come to a grinding halt whilst you stay at home bringing up your children whilst your husband has full control of the finances and gives you pin money to buy yourself a nice frock!!!  Us mere mortals who are stuck in limbo because we are on middle ground climbing the ladder and raising families are exempt from this rule because, in her eyes, who cares?  The non-elite working mums need to keep on facing pressures from all angles because our pay packet does not allow us to have the luxury of choice.   

What made this argument even more interesting is that no one has bothered to ask if her husband will be forfeiting his career for a few years whilst his wife tries to make a difference to our country.  After all, shared parental leave becomes law in April and this is meant to allow women the right to share the responsibility and retain her equal status in the household.  I think rather than constantly pointing the finger at women’s choices we should be rephrasing our thoughts to make the right impact.

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2 thoughts on “A woman’s right to choose.

  1. You’re absolutely spot on here my lovely, and I would have been as angry reading that article!! Every person is different, and every person is entitled to make any decision they want/need to better their lives and family. I like you support both choices to staying home or going back to work. What upsets me most of all is a lot of mothers feel guilty about going back to work but need to in order to pay the bills and feed their children, and women are forever being made to feel guilty about wanting a career as well as having children. When did people become so judgemental and feel the need to comment on other peoples lives and decisions that do not even impact them or effect them in any way. People seriously need to mind their own business and focus on their own lives instead of commenting on others. I don’t understand this need mothers have for making other mothers feel guilty … you see it all the time!! Whether it’s about breastfeeding, weaning, how your baby sleeps, how much time you spend reading with them, where you take them, how quickly they reach achieve the ‘milestones’ etc etc etc – a mothers worst enemy is ‘other mothers’ 😦 It makes me so sad and angry!!

    • No one ever makes a man feel guilty for going to work and if he opts to stay at home he is treated like he has made a huge sacrifice but the woman is still villified for going to work…and she still comes home to cook tea, bath the child and put them to bed. It isn’t fair and we need to try and change the culture. Why women have to make it difficult for other women in all aspects amazes me. If we can’t support each other’s choices then we’re setting a very bad example to our sons and daughters.

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