You know what women want?

An end to stupid articles about what women want. As though 10.8 million females (2008 figures) of all ages and all backgrounds all want the same thing.

But personally, I want an end to the constant articles about how women really want to be housewives. Sure, some women do, but we don’t have articles claiming all men want to watch their mates having sex with someone who is too drunk to give proper consent, just because a few league and AFL players like to do that. If I was more of a cynic, I’d say it’s revenge for getting vocal about equal pay and opportunities. (Don’t even try to tell me it’s because women lack experience, because that’s bullshit: 40 per cent of men on boards are untested before they get the job).

Check out this two-pronged MSM attack: We all want to be housewives now, in the Sydney Morning Herald, and What women really want, in The Australian.

Let’s look at the SMH one first:

A new report suggests women would rather marry for money than love and swap their career for the kitchen, writes Judith Woods from London.

Then:

Past the age of 35, where two or more of us are gathered together in a room, the talk invariably turns to wistful longings of “getting some chickens”, which as we all know is code for “a property-porn house in a shire with Cath Kidston tea towels, Emma Bridgewater crockery and a City husband who is so preposterously well remunerated he can almost afford the outrageous commuter rail fare rises.”

Then:

A study by the National Centre for Social Research, commissioned in 2009 by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, revealed that a third of all mothers would prefer to give up their jobs if they could afford to, and three fifths said they would want to work fewer hours.

This doesn’t mean women want to be housewives. It means that two-thirds of the women surveyed don’t want to give up their jobs. The majority. As for the one-third who’d like to care for the kids full-time – many parents I know would love to do this, men and women. Since men earn 18 per cent more than women, in most households it makes financial sense for the person who earns less to be the full-time carer.

Sure, three-fifths would prefer to work fewer hours, but don’t we all?

Now, The Oz. This piece is more interesting and the headline doesn’t do it justice at all.

RARELY do social theorists cause a public furore outside their ivory towers – except for Catherine Hakim, feminist foe and author of such provocative works as Mummy, I Want to be a Housewife.

Then:

Women already have their equal opportunities. The sex war is over, she declares.

There is no shortage of women applauding her. One Goldman Sachs banker supports Hakim’s theory that emphasis on equality can undermine women’s achievements. She describes how she was unable to enjoy a genuinely earned promotion because colleagues suspected it was down to a general “boost the number of female MDs” policy.

Belinda Robertson, chief executive of a company selling cashmere clothing, says: “We’ve made women a special case and not equal. That’s not how we want to be considered, as tokens on boards. Women don’t do themselves any favours, abusing the system.

Of course, if all things were equal then we wouldn’t be talking about quotas to increase women’s representation on boards and in management positions. They would already be there. But, in Australia, women hold only 10.7 per cent of senior executive positions, 8.3 per cent of board directorships and just 2 per cent of CEO roles. Does that sound like things are equal to you?

As for the (unnamed) Goldman Sachs banker who felt she was “unable to enjoy a genuinely earned promotion”, why would you blame the push for equality and not the people who dismiss your achievements? If you earned a promotion but a jealous colleague felt you didn’t deserve it, would you blame the person who promoted you? Of course you bloody wouldn’t.

There has to be a point at which we – the mainstream media – stop letting people use us to peddle lies. Again and again, research shows the gender pay gap exists, so why do we keep letting people say it doesn’t?

Back to the Oz article:

Hakim claims the data supports her conclusions.

“Research evidence consistently shows that most husbands are the main breadwinners in their family and that most mothers would prefer not to have the competing demands of family work and paid jobs,” she says.

Actually, what the research shows is that women are still doing most of the housework and childcare, on top of paid employment. From the ABS:

While men are doing slightly more household work than in the past, in 2006 women still did around 1.8 times as much as men (compared with twice as much in 1992). Although women are spending less time cleaning and doing laundry, they still spent almost six times as long on laundry as men in 2006, and more than three times as long on other housework such as cleaning. Women also spent almost two and a half times as long on food preparation and clean up, despite men doing more of the cooking than in the past.

So, when faced with always bringing in a lower income than your partner (assuming a heterosexual couple here), and the fact that children boost a man’s lifetime earnings but not a woman’s ($2.5 million versus $1.3 million) and the high cost of childcare, do women have a real choice?

38 responses to “You know what women want?

  1. Two interesting (well – to me anyway) points – one – my mum was involved with the original time-use survey by the ABS! (and has mostly since been working in the area of ABS research into social capital) – so I had GREAT info for essays on gender bias in employment and home duties and so on for Sociology classes in high school…which has handy!

    Another thing which I think is kind of funny given the persistence of articles such as these is the story of Sir Gawain and the Loathly Damsel – we are talking about a story which is HUNDREDS of years old, in which he goes on a quest to find out ‘what women want’ and the answer comes down to, ‘They want to make up their own minds what they want.”
    These newspapers – so behind the times.

    • Sorry about all those typos. I have been using my sewing machine in a womanly, housewifely way to make myself some new clothes in order to spare my poor hard-working husband the terrible expense of clothing me. (That and I wanted something which is vaguely flattering.) so my fingers are all thumbs, (which should provide a nice creepy mental image.)

  2. Those articles are they really from the 21st Century or the 1970’s? I thought those arguments had been confined to the dustbin of stupidity.

    The survey that found lots of women would like to spend more time with their children than working did they ask any men the same question?

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  4. Good article and great points! Sadly these conversations often devolve into dissing “women’s work”, childcare, housework, and nurture/othercare *itself*. We need a culture that works to honor all forms of work even while trying to bridge the wage gap, support women in the choices they want to make, and ask their male partners (assuming het partnerships) to step up.

    I’ve read that in gay couples the housework and childcare split becomes much more egalitarian. Interesting, huh? So much for the era of equality and “choice”.

    @Neil:
    The survey that found lots of women would like to spend more time with their children than working did they ask any men the same question?

    Thank you for saying that.

    • Hi Kelly, welcome to the News with Nipples. It also descends into “well, if women want to have kids, then they shouldn’t expect their career to be the same as a man’s”. Sigh.

    • Yes – I do wonder that too. My husband would love to spend more time with the kids but as usual -currently his earning capacity is far greater than mine.
      I am looking into doing some sort of mature-age trade apprenticeship – no idea what though.

  5. Few people ever heave sighs over rich successful childless men with the comments, “Oh yes, he enjoyed his life, made loads of money, gave to charity, did volunteer work, had heaps of good friends…but his life was blighted because he never fulfilled his manly functions and had children.”

    And yet that is just as likely or unlikely as for a woman.

    I realise of course that what I have just said is about as original as ‘Money doesn’t buy you happiness’ or some other such newly-minted gem of a thought, but there you go.

  6. I’ve just had a baby and (for this year at least) I am sort of a housewife. My partner and I earn roughly equal salaries, with my base probably being a bit higher Than his (defying the stats). But I get paid leave and he has his own business so it makes sense that I take the 12 months off. We are lucky and have choices. The reality also is that I want the time off to be with my new baby, not to mention the practicalities of breast feeding. 

    None of this means I choose to end my career or that I don’t want equal pay conditions or my partner does not pull his fair share of housework and baby raising. I’ll be back at work soon enough and I’ll probably wish I worked less hours (and might even tick that box on a bullshit survey) but that doesn’t mean I spurn my career just that id like a lie in! 

    Affirmative action and quotas is such a loaded and confusing issue with really valid arguments for and against (so much so that I  have not been able to decide a personal position on it). But you are correct, if there was workplace gender equality it would be a moot point. 

    • Lexy, we’ve talked about quotas before (in real life, shocking!) and I’m sure we’ll talk about it again. My feeling is that it’s needed because the playing field isn’t level.

      The argument about women being promoted simply to fill a quota doesn’t wash with me – what company would put someone in an executive position who isn’t up to the job? Sure, we’ve all had bad managers, but senior executive positions are a little different. And yes, there will be some women who don’t do a good job, just as there are some men who don’t do a good job. But my fear is that if a woman is as mediocre as a man in that role, it will be used as a reason not to promote more women.

      • My concern is that where quotas are in place, promoted women are subject to derision and lack of respect that they were ONLY promoted due to quotas and the fact that they were the best person for the job is dismissed and ignored. I had a closer look at Norway model and there were downsides as well as plusses. I dunno, I’m for them one minute then not convincenced the next. Guess I’d like to believe in utopia where they are not necessary.

        • Quotas aren’t an ideal solution, but my feeling is that dickheads who say ‘oh, she only got that job to make up the quota’ are the same dickheads who say ‘well, she must have sucked someone’s dick to get that job’. You’ll never win with them.

          But the other thing quotas do is make senior management serious about training women to take on management roles, so that women aren’t promoted in a vacuum, so to speak.

  7. Poor bitter little poppet! As Quentin Bryce once said, girls/women can have it all,’but not all at once-no bitter diatribes or constant whining necessary!
    Your passive aggressive feminist whining is no less tedious/boring/pathetic than passe/ dumb /macho agressive male bullshit.
    The constant carping for free kicks is just so feeble: please, just get a life!
    Happy New Year,Robert.

    • Robert Fuller, name calling, that’s all you’ve got? Please read my comment policy, which says find another way to make your point. But I don’t suppose you have a point, do you? Other than, “well, you’re a poo-poo head”, which is about the intelligence level of your comment. Grow up.

      Did I once say that women should have it all? No, clearly I did not.

      Oh, and by the way, do you even know what passive aggressive means?

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by and showing us all how ignorant you are.

    • I was very surprised when I read Robert’s comment. Our GG, hero of the nation, dismissing women’s concerns? Perhaps Robert is quoting Quentin Crisp? But surely Quentin was all over the feminist ally thing? (Must google.)
      So. Here’s the complete quote from Ms. Bryce: “For a very long time now I’ve been saying to young women, you can have it all, but not all at the same time. How important it is to take very good care of yourself, of your mental and physical and spiritual wellbeing, it’s hard to do. It’s easier to be a workaholic than to have a truly balanced life. It’s very tough for a lot of women teetering on that tight rope of balance and balancing too many responsibilities.”

    • What a horrible, condescending and pointless little man you are. Is there a purpose to your post or are you just a troll? Weird. 

  8. Thank god someone cherry picked those two articles as both were flawed.
    Yes some women might think they want to stay at home with the kids and bake, ask them what they want after they have been doing it for a year or two

    • Hi reality raver, welcome to the News with Nipples. This is a good point – just because someone wants to be a full-time parent when their kids are young, doesn’t mean that’s what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

    • And some women might even REALLY ENJOY being at home and baking for a year or two, or five – but it would be nice to be able to go back to work and not be seen as somehow braindead and obsolete!
      (Nice? It would be HEAVENLY to be able to get a good job and get OUT OF HERE!!!)

  9. One flaw of those articles is while women (sort of ) have three choices; Full time career, Full time motherhood or a mixture of both. (money and income the big decider) men only have one option full time work till they retire/die.
    Most surveys show that men ,especially younger men, want a better life/work mix. Why hasn’t this come up in the articles?

  10. Speaking of bitter diatribes-sorry to have touched such a raw nerve: your response was so unpredictable-yawn!
    Precious, precious, precious- lighten up a bit schnookie!
    Happy New Year,Robert

  11. I have seen so many of these “run to the hills! your ovaries are exploding!” pieces that are all the same, I think they are kept in a file and brought out on slow news days. They’ve been debunked for years, and yet editors just keep trotting them out. I guess they are hoping we’ll believe that unequal pay, prejudice based on gender, lack of child care/ flexible work hours are good enough if they just keep saying it enough.
    Here’s another one from the ABC newsite: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/42802.html
    He’s not silly enough to suggest that unequal pay etc etc are equality. He says we don’t have to do anything about them as long as we’re concerned about them.
    I have deconstructed Robert’s response. I have come up with: “The problems you experience are not as serious as the annoyance I feel when you talk about them.”

    • Nice one. Also, “I don’t have a real argument because that would require having to think about something other than myself, which I do all the time and might I say, I am very witty and clever and no one has ever thought of the put downs that I have, so instead of addressing your arguments I will be condescending and call you poppet and passive agressive (even though I don’t know what it means) and a feminist (because that’ll really hurt)”. Bah ha ha ha ha ha ha!

  12. So, now even women are trotting out the old argument that promotions should be made purely on merit. How depressing. Apart from anything else, it assumes that every male made it to the board or any other high rung on the corporate or political ladder via merit, as opposed to say, being helped along by the old school tie, boys’ clubs and other connections and cultures. What I have found in life is that networking and who you know counts for an awful lot, no matter what your caper. The boys aren’t about to give up their power without a fight. Women have quotas because there is a clear lack of fair representation in the most powerful arenas, like politics, which is supposed to be representative of the people. Like most things, it’s hugely lopsided in favour of men. It needs to be corrected. Unless, of course, you want men to make most of the decisions that affect your life. I, for one, am finding that concept a little old. But maybe I’m just a little old-fashioned. I don’t know… I’ll just go ask my husband what he thinks before I post such a bold and dangerous opinion. Is that more 21st century of me?

  13. Oh I’ve missed you. I don’t even know where I went. x

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