Friday, February 03, 2006

Women Have It All

After spending most of tonight glued to Channel 4 - largely from inertia, though new comedy The IT Crowd was a big improvement on Celebrity Big Brother (which I refused to watch) - I felt moved to comment on Amanda Platell's slot on female emancipation:

30 Minutes Political commentator Amanda Platell suggests feminism has offered today's women an unrealistic dream of independence and career success, threatening their chance for real happiness with a husband and children. She considers the impact second-wave feminists had on society in the 1960s and 1970s, and reflects on the personal choices she herself made.

(From Guardian TV guide)

The general line was that feminists have shot themselves in the foot, by demanding the right to work modern women now have to combine this with raising families, and get the bad of both worlds - and that, in effect, may would've been happier in a simpler age as home-makers.

In fact, I'm sympathetic to such general arguments, believing that women would've done better to promote the valuation of the domestic sphere, rather than abandoning it for a right to work. After all, what's so great about being a wage slave? Different but equal - with rights for either sex to take on the non-traditional opposite gender role - is, I think, probably the way to go here.

The programme, however, was full of far too much over-simplification and proceeded to state a succession of banal truths in a one-sided fashion. For example 'women now want families and work, but feel they can't have it all'. True, but men can't have it all either. Sure a stay at home wife allows you to combine a career with having children, but not spending quality time with them. Similarly, the observation that women - caught by this schizophrenia - no longer know what will make them happy. But do we know what makes anyone happy? No. The problems raised - superficially - in the programme aren't those of women, they're problems of everyone (men and women) in modern society.

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