Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Part-time work, full-time happiness


In response to Kathy Gyngell: Stealing motherhood, Groan wrote:

As Simone de Beauvoir said all those years ago, the problem for a Marxist feminist is that if women are allowed the choice of spending time at home rather than working ‘too many would choose it’. The surprising thing is that a Conservative Government would engage in the same hypocrisy of promoting early return to work for women and infant ‘childcare’ while extolling the benefit to fathers.
Personally I’m all for choice for parents to swap or take turns if they wish or, more likely, as circumstances present themselves, and generally all evidence is, even from Sweden, that people will choose ‘traditional’ roles. The thing is that the current Conservatives appear as intent as any on social engineering rather than choice, even though the animus behind that engineering is a view of humans as solely valued as units of production.

It is extraordinary that in northern Europe there has evolved a situation that allows for a combination of full and part-time work which in all research families find contributes to the practicalities and aspirations and ‘happiness’. The Netherlands, Germany and even the UK has a large part-time job market. Yet given the actually highly satisfactory arrangement that gives opportunities for time at home and work for women (and men less often), rather than celebrate this success in compromise, giving many couples the opportunity to combine work and family in a practical way, governments of all hues here appear determined to dismantle this choice, and the family as well. It is beyond me why ‘conservatives’ take this in.

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