Tuesday, 10 June 2014

personal and political

Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie (c1797)
Taken from Wikipedia Commons
When Mary Wollstonecraft argued in A Vindication of The Rights of Women that women were just as intelligent, and worth listening to, as men, and that any lack in intellect was actually due to their poor education, rather than intrinsic dimness (she may not have used those exact words), there were lots of people who would really rather she hadn't said anything.

Many of them disagreed with her.

But there were also many, women especially, who thought that she was probably right, but that it wasn't very womanly to act like you were more intelligent than a man, or even that you knew more about a topic than a man.  Even if you were.  Even if you did.

This was back in the 18th Century, but we're still struggling to surface from the concept that boys ought to come across as cleverer than girls.  It seems like every time exam results come out and girls do well in them, that we hear about how this is evidence that the examination system is failing boys (because there is no chance that girls are more committed and studious at 16 or 18, and therefore likely to do better in exams).

Nowadays intelligent women who choose to be full time mothers are told that this is not the best use of their skills.  That they are wasting their talents and intellect sweeping up cereal.  That they would be better off working, while paying someone else to look after their children.  That women should lean in.

They've got a point.

But on the other hand, if you choose to have children, you might also choose to spend time with them, in the knowledge that the best people to look after them when they're young are people who love them to bits.


I don't need all my qualifications and work experience to look after my children.  I just need my love, and understanding of them.

The trouble is of course, that taking time out of a career, or even working part time at this time of life, means missing out on a big curve of hard work, long hours, and promotions.  While I'm sweeping up cereal the glass ceiling is being fixed in place.

But it's not just women who hit their heads on the glass ceiling.  Anyone not willing to put in the long hours which seem to be required at the moment will find themselves stuck.  Maybe that's OK.  Maybe the system works.  

Maybe it doesn't.  Do we really only want people who are willing to spend hours at work at the expense of the rest of their lives running everything?  Do we really want working parents to miss out on time with their families to get the bread on the table?

I'm thinking some people have got this sussed already.  Is that you?  It's not me!


The book challenge
Words at 11/6/14 - 86,500.  
47,000 words done since the challenge began, 4,500 this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 20.
What I did last - Yet more sex.  I'm glossing over it now.