The house is growing up. The kittens have ventured out [very cautiously and one of them only put a paw over the door threshold before going back inside], daughter one has a job and daughter two is talking about going to a party. Daughter two is a bit of a recluse and prefers to sit in her room surrounded by pictures of George Harrison doing all sorts of artistic experiments, usually sitting in a shower cap or some other ‘interesting’ head gear.
Daughter one is feeling mighty relieved at finding a job. She has spent the last few weeks delivering her cv to almost every workplace in the area, signing up to the nearest agency [which is not that near] and applying online for waitressing jobs only to be told you need a year’s experience. We revamped her cv mid-week. She had added a section on hobbies, which was fairly long and philosophical. It described how she joined debate club because she was “opinionated” but then explained why it is important to have your views challenged and branched out into a comment on current world politics. We edited it down to “co-led debate society”.
Her opinions in certain areas are becoming more negative. Her views of men are not the most upbeat, for instance. It’s not hard to discern why. Watching so many women screwing up the courage to pour out intimate, personal testimony of abuse in today’s hostile climate is one thing. Seeing it laughed at, not making any difference or, worse, seeing abuse rewarded is quite another.
This is not just about women. It’s about power, the abuse of power and about all those things that glue societies together, the most important of them being trust and respect for one another.
Many of the debates we have about work life balance or whatever you want to call it, about equality at work and at home have for too long been seen as women’s issues and so sidelined. At the heart of them, though, is a bigger question about what kind of society we want to be – one which enables people to develop their potential or one that is built on letting some people ‘succeed’ while placing huge hurdles in the way of others.
It’s not about men vs women. It’s about how we – all of us – can do better.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.