Monday, November 16, 2009

Free to be you and me

Alice Rossi wrote an article entitled, "Equality Between the Sexes." According to her obituary in the L.A. Times yesterday (see my blog from 11/15/09), the paper was, "Published the year after [Betty] Friedan's 'The Feminist Mystique,' [and] it outlined a three-pronged solution, including creating a network of child-care centers, 'de-sex-linking' occupations to open up more opportunities for women and reversing the march to the suburbs so that both parents could work closer to home." I'm intrigued by each of the ideas in this thesis, so I'm going to blog about each of them in turn.

First off, the notion of community responsibility for childcare is revolutionary. What would our world look like if, as a nation, we valued children and mothers so much that we committed to providing a network of quality childcare centers available to every child so that her/his mother could participate in the workforce at the level which best suited her talents, interests and needs?

Now, some women would still want to stay home, which is fine. But think of all the guilt and stress that this network could remove from working mothers' backs! Think of the message that the creation of this network would send to women: Your intellectual AND parenting contributions to society are both so valuable, that we will do something practical so that you can actually excel in both arenas. Think of the way in which women wouldn't be penalized financially for being out of the workforce during their childbearing years--the glass ceiling might begin to crack! Wow. It really makes you wonder why we don't do this. Or is it obvious?

My theory is that people are afraid of giving women this level of opportunity. Who knows what might happen!?! Women might have to be paid at equal rates, allowed into leadership positions at the highest levels of society, or even (gasp!) considered the intellectual equals of men. Honestly, I think there are as many women who are afraid of this potential freedom as there are men. In my experience (which is limited to the comments of my colleagues, friends and family), women seem to guilt each other about not staying home with children more so than do men. If there was real, systemic childcare available in this country, then the women (and MEN) who love staying home with children could work in the centers, and the women who are better mothers and better humans when they work outside the home could be themselves--guilt free.


To be continued...

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