Thursday, November 10, 2005

who jacked women's rights?

I have never been a feminist, because I never really identified with the people that were feminists.

Even though I think women's rights are important and I have been harrassed at work more than once, I never really felt the women's movement was working for me, rather for some women off there in New York who were intellectuals in their 40's or 60's. They seemed to identify as important things that, well, already seemed obvious.

But getting a child made me wonder, what the hell do those females at NOW do anyway, while all us here are trying to make things work on the child rearing/work angle, it seems they are too busy trying to do what? I am not sure what...get equal pay for equal work? What lawmaker
would disagree with that?

Really, a family is a person's first education, is it not? Our communities, schools and places of work are enormously impacted by the homes that the people come from. Child rearing is an incredibly important and powerful job, but for employers it seems it is more of a nuisance. Why do employers not offer childcare or benefits for it? Do they think people will stop having children?

What if I don't want to work and I want to give 5 years of my professional life to raising children? I guess feminists either don't do that, or they don't really care about that.

As Jeff and I start to do the math of this child caring, rearing and having thing, I start to wonder, why is it that more politicians aren't interested in how tricky this is for families? Why isn't this an issue? Why isn't this important?

Does anyone even know that childcare costs about 800 a month? Talk about a chunk of change. It most certainly will fluctuate by a couple hundred or so (or more), but how can working full time really be worth it, when you have to pay that would have to net at least 2500-3000 a month to make working worthwhile. That's about 45-50 k a year, a nice job...but how many really even make that much?

When I told my boss I wanted to go part time, first he asked if I was probationary. Fortunately, I was not because I assume it would mean he could can me. Then, he told me in no uncertain terms (in fact he told me for 45 minutes) that part timers were bad for the students, made less contribution and he wanted to word to go out that he discouraged it. So I let the word go out.

Now I am part time because luckily the decision wasn't solely in his hands. However, I am pretty aware that as a part timer I am viewed as somehow being "lesser". By and large, I do not pay much attention, but when it comes to be evaluated or in engendering credibility with my bosses, I wonder if I am outta luck.

When I left to have my daughter, by all accounts, I got a sweet deal. More chalked up to timing and having saved up my sick days plus summer vacation, I had 5 months before I had to go back. But this was an exception to the rule which was something like 6 weeks unpaid. But I paid for my having been gone, I had to move classrooms and in that they took all my equipment that I had aquired (via grant work) and "reappropriated" it. In doing that, the whole of my technology end of my curriculum pretty much was gone.

Almost every woman I know that has a kid deals with this issue of work and the child. They work up till the time they are about to pop so they can stay more time at home with the kid to do the nursing thing, which is what is recommended by doctors to be the best way to feed a little baby. Then when they have to go back, it is an truly very difficult transition. My child or the rent? hmm.

Remember the days when women stayed at home and fought fo the right to work? In the world I saw, women were forced back to work, often times also to wean long before it was really recommended. Or if they had a pump, they got to try to make that work out, which means pumping at lunch, if you can find a place to do it. I say "forced" because in nearly every case, the woman wasn't really ready to go back. But it was that or lose your job. Is this the best that can be done?

What about the nursing thing? Who can do that and work? How many employers are encouraged or try to make an environment where mom's are taken care of and valued for the humungous role they play in communities? Has anyone ever even heard of this concept? Ever heard of a workplace that considers making a space for women who have children and need to pump? I haven't. The restroom? Mmm, that sounds great, I'll just sit on the pot here and fire this sucker up...oh wait, where can I plug it in?

How many times have I listened to my friends, colleagues other moms talk about how their husband was scared of the newborn and didn't really know how to take care of the child? Or at least the prospect of caring for the child was daunting until the kid could at least crawl? For those first several months, often times the mom plays the main role in the care of the child. And even after that, dad may carry some weight and in every house it is different, but as long as that mom is nursing, she and her child are fairly well glued to each other, as well it should be. No one else can do what she does.

And where is the advocacy for this within the women's rights movement? Women carry a heavier burden throughout the early family years when they have to work and take care of babies, why are they not given a nod of acknowledgement besides 6 weeks unpaid leave? Meanwhile the women's rights movement only seems to acknowledge the rights that would make them equal to men....huh? Something has gotten lost in translation for me, thats like trying to make apples equal to oranges. May they both cost the same per pound, but women are not the same as men--we can procreate.

Where did you go Mother Jones? We need you.

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