Since starting this and having 3 children I have noticed many disparities with the way our society in this country (UK) works. I knew that these flaws were there previously, but because they didn’t directly affect me, I wasn’t really that bothered. It’s like that with most people and most issues. If it doesn’t directly affect you, we walk on. If you’ve ever stopped to read my ‘About’ section, I mention that one of my driving forces to becoming a big singer, is the public voice that comes with it. I’ve studied politics and have absolutely no interest in being a politician or even beginning to play with the governments long winded, bureaucratic nonsense. But I’d like a public voice and then I’d like to do what Brian May did for badgers. But for people.
Ladies, families. I’m starting with you.
I wouldn’t say that I’m a feminist. I’m a woman and I believe and want equality. If I was a man, I would want the same. But I wouldn’t call myself a masculinist if I was a man either. Just learnt that word. Awesome. I think everyone needs to take their labels and hats off and just relax a little bit about it all.
The thing is though, I am a woman, so I can only really talk about things from my own perspective. Do not take this as an argument against men. It is not. It’s an argument against the way our system currently works. I love men. When it suits me. See. I’m a woman.
First of all. Thank you to all the raving feminists of years gone by. Us ladies can now vote, we’ll come back to the voting system another day. We can go to work without the permission of our husbands. We are no longer house bound. We are paid the same minimum wage as a man. It’s ok to have a child out of wedlock. We can do most jobs that a man can do I think. You know, stuff’s a lot more fair. We are pretty lucky in this country. We really shouldn’t grumble. But as a mother of 3 children and a woman who is filled with ambition and drive for more… More being what we are told we are capable of and allowed… A few holes start to appear.
I know that each family works differently and it does depend massively on your income, how much childcare you have, what line of work you are in. And different families want different things. However, I have spoken to many women who all share similar feelings and stories. You meet a guy, you fall in love, you decide to have children. It’s the year 2000 and something. We live in an equal society. Life not being equal isn’t really even something that crosses your mind. Having children is an equal decision right? You’re an independent young woman, he’s an independent young man. The reality is though, that suddenly, when your baby comes along you’re thrown back into 1950. Your boyfriend is going to work full time and you’re at home with the baby. All the time. Washing clothes, cooking dinner, cleaning. Playgroups. Baby friends. You can’t pee. You’re cried at all day. You’re on call 24/7. You don’t sleep very much. Showering becomes a luxury item.
Obviously it is also great. They’re fun and you smile and yes, you’re entirely blessed. You created this fantastic thing and we shouldn’t wish the time away. I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s an incredible honour. For some women though, this is as much, and sometimes more, as 12 hours a day. 5 days a week. There you go miss independent. The world is your oyster. You said you wanted children. You didn’t say you wanted to sacrifice everything else for it. For all of the fantastic women who are happy staying home and solely being a ‘mother’, that is great. I’m genuinely happy for you. I know many women who dreamed of the day they could have children and stay at home with them. That was the job they wanted. But there are a lot of women who wanted to have children but still continue their own interests and careers. Like their boyfriend is doing you know? What about these women? What happens to us? Well for a lot of the time, these women are labelled as selfish. Questions like ‘Well why did they have children then?’ float around them. Sorry, what?
Childcare in this country is an absolute joke. As is maternity/paternity leave. If you’re lucky enough to find a space in a nursery you’re looking at least £177 a week for a child under 2. If you’re not in a great paid job, you can end up in the situation where your earnings are just covering your childcare costs. That doesn’t really make any sense for anyone. Men get 2 weeks paid paternity leave. ‘Paid’. When we lived in London, my boyfriend had to take it as holiday. Statutory paternity leave is approx £130 a week. It’s hardly the equivalent to a full time wage, when you’re supporting a family. You can’t get help from the government because you’re working… then they bitch at you because you’re not working… and then you’re just chasing your tail and scratching your head and wondering what the hell it is you should be doing. As a side note, how the hell this is supposed to encourage people off benefits and into work too, I don’t know?!?! People can’t afford to work…
It’s not just childcare though is it? It’s the attitudes of employers too. They have to say that it’s all equal and fair, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t always work like that. If you have children and your employer knows that sometimes you’re going to have to stay home with a chicken pox’d up kid or whatever, a lot of the time, you’re not going to get the hot shot job. They’ll veil it under ‘inexperience’. Why should this still be an issue? We’re all human. To all potential employers, a woman who has kids, is in actual fact the most hard working, organised, multi tasking, job juggler you will ever meet. An asset actually. She’s fighting harder than the rest.
Yes ladies, you decided to have a baby – but so did he. Its 2014. Why can’t you both be great parents and have fulfilling careers/work outside of the home easily if you want to? Other countries are doing it.
Check out Scandinavia. Sweden is a fine example. David Cameron went there in 2008. 6 years on we’re still waiting to find out what he discovered. I’ll tell you what he found. A country that has a maximum fee policy so that childcare is affordable for everybody. Childcare that is paid for partly by central government and tax revenues. Childcare that is paid on reflection of your earnings – typically 1-3% of them. A country that has reserved 60 days parental leave for each parent exclusively. Working parents are entitled to 13 months paid leave at approx 77% of the employees monthly salary. What do we get here? 6 weeks full pay. If we qualify. If another country in Europe, and this is only one example, is able to create a better system, why can’t we? Surely the more people working and able to afford childcare has got to boost the economy and general moral of the people?
I don’t think the feminists went far enough. They stopped too soon and vaguely screwed us over. Now women have to work AND have children. We are torn between these two extremes constantly. If you have children and stop working you’re deemed unintelligent and unambitious. If you have children and go back to work you’re frowned upon. If you do go back to work it’s the most expensive and stressful thing you could do. You’re still expected to do everything you were previously expected to do, and then some… It’s not great for a man either. He has to deal with a woman going through all of this internal turmoil. Where did his hot woman go? She is drowning. Probably pulling him under too.
This needs to change. I’m going to change it. I’ll probably ask for your help. X