Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Demand 50-50

I just read a really awesome piece which I was directed to by Broadsheet. "Homeward Bound," by Linda Hirshman and appearing in the American Prospect is about how traditional homelife is stalling feminism and is largely why women leave the workforce. I feel as though Hirshman echoes everything I feel, wonder, and believe, even things I feel are judgmental and I don't want to admit I believe (such as: women necessarily need to work in order to be fulfilled, that staying home and taking care of children doesn't cut it).

While the article is rich with interesting things to talk about, there are a couple of things that stand out for me that I have often wondered and debated about.

First, why do people have the idea that child-rearing is largely the woman's job? I have heard people say that women have a special bond with their children because they hold them for nine months. Never having given birth, I have no idea if this is true, but I am skeptical. I hope that men are able to develop just as strong bonds with their children once the children are born. I certainly hope the father of my children feels just as deeply and strongly about our children as I do! But, let's say that men don't develop quite the same bond with children as women do. I hope that the bond that they do form is strong enough to inspire them to care and nurture their children the same way women have done for centuries.

Also, is it a matter of the bonds parents can form with their children or the bonds they do form with their children in our society? Have men not formed strong bonds with their children because they don't get home from work until after their children are asleep? Or, maybe they have not because they think they shouldn't, and so they leave the bonding to the women?

I have serious doubts that men can't form the same bonds women have with their children. Seeing the way my dad treats his kids and grandkids, you would never doubt men's abilities to create strong bonds with their children.

Maybe women leave the workforce so willingly because work sucks. Maybe men would leave too if they could. After having been in the workforce for just over a year, I have often seriously wondered why so many people in society have gone along with the 9-5 schedule. Sitting under flourescent lighting, cleaning up the messes irresponsible colleagues leave, and dealing with bureaucracy is unfulfilling and not fun. Whenever I complain about work, people's favorite response is, "You find that everywhere." Why do people subject themselves to these frustrations? Maybe because it is what everyone else has been subjecting themselves for decades, at least. Maybe women leave work because they do not find their particular jobs fulfilling or interesting to them and maybe staying home, raising kids, and otherwise spending time they way they choose sounds a whole lot more fun and fulfilling. But, maybe men feel the same way as women. Maybe men would just as willingly leave their jobs if society wasn't going to judge their manhood or if their wives were able to make as much their male counterparts. Maybe men also do not find their work fulfilling and would be willing to give it up for staying at home and spending their time as they choose.

I am not saying that I want to stay home if given the choice. I want to find a fulfilling job that utilizes my abilities, constantly keeps me interested, and allows me to move around, talk with people, and discuss my passions. Seeing my friends join the workforce, I am skeptical that many people find what they are really meant to do. It seems as though a lot of people take jobs because the jobs are available at the time they are looking and because they are not aware of what else is out there. I think it's difficult to figure out what job you are most suitable for, and I think that probably a lot of women leave their jobs because they have not found the job that suits them. And I bet their husbands also haven't found what suits them and would make the same decisions their wives do.

So, I'd appreciate some input. Do women form unique bonds with their children? Would men leave their jobs as quickly as women seem to do?

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