Monday, May 15, 2006

Rather than breakfast in bed

For the last few weeks retailers have been urging us to show how much we love our mothers. Show it with flowers, show it with books, show it with irons, show it with cookwear, show it with anything that's for sale really.

Just as long as you don't show how much you love your mother by demanding that the work of raising children be valued in our society, rather than treated as a duty, or a hobby.

Every single person who reads this blog (and quite a few people who don't) have benefitted from other people putting the time and energy required to turn an embryo into an adult. Everyone who has ever made money off other people's backs, benefits from the fact that unless women give birth to children and then raise them, there aren't any children to exploit.

The vital work that women do is ignored, apart for a yearly call for breakfast in bed. Instead mother's are attacked simultaneously for not staying at home with their children and not being in the paid workforce. Women on the DPB are treated as if there's some huge crime to trying to raise a child without a man. The Prime Minister believes mother's aren't doing enough for our productivity, and the leader of the opposition believes that once you go on a benefit, any subsequent children you may have won't actually take any additional time or resources to raise.

The attitude that women's work isn't work benefits capitalism, and it benefits men.

The solution? The same old organising/resisting/overthrowing capitalism stuff. But today I'll just stick to paying tribute to my Mum - whose on the other side of the world right now. When I was born she was two years younger than I am now.

One of the things that scares me so much about being a parent is how individualised it is, and because it restricts your movement, parenting can also be really isolating. Mum says she didn't feel that isolated (she did feel as if what she was doing wasn't valued). I guess that's because most of the time my she had good support networks that she built with other women. But she had to build them twice, because when we moved to New Zealand she was pregnant with my little sister, I was 5 and my little brother was 2.

I'd write more about her, but it's not my story, and she's more than capable of writing it for herself. So I just want to say that I love her and I think she did a pretty good job.


  1. Maybe it should be a crime to raise a child without a father. Open your eyes and see the social damage caused by the lack of positve male role models and a state that actively battles to support a woman keeping a child away from a father.

    Debate this either way. The way you are thinking as you read this, which is that I am insisting nuclear family is best and mother should stay with a violent father or as I meant it, which is that a child has a right to the attention & love of both parents. They provide different strengths.
    Insistence on naming a father on a birth certificate
    Shared custody being the norm rather than an oddity when family court is involved
    setting the law so that fathers are not simply a source of money and child support becomes something divisive and a weapon to be used by either party.

  2. Anonymous9:14 am

    Maybe you should talk to some New Zealanders where an authority (for example a church not the state) forced a father on a family - before you make ridiculous use of 'facts' you don't appear to have much of a clue about.

    If there's a shortage of 'positive male role models' that's men's problem, not the state, and certainly not women.

    Single mothers who bring up their children is this fucked system are bloody heroes. And 'men's right's' advocates are gutless whiners with too much time on there hands.

  3. I don't think that the care of children should be genderized. My father looked after me while I was a baby and mom went off to work. Also due to the nature of his work, he'd often have months off and be the sole Dad on school trips etc. I don't think it's good to keep talking about the care of kids as a women's issue (though I realize this is a mothers' day post), as it just serves to further isolate it.

    Sage, I'm sure for every horrible women that uses her children as a way to get at their father, there is a horrible father out there who beats his wife, doesn't pay child support etc. Converserly there are wonderful men and women taking care of their kids living together and seperatly. We are all capable of being equally terrible and wonderful at the same time.

    I do think however, that we should be a but more careful about who we decide to combine DNA with sometimes. I've seen way too many carcarshes coming as women ignore obvious personality defects because the guy is hot or rich. Or think they can change them. Converserly I've seen a lot of guys manipulated by women (especially in Korea). I've seen how these beautiful women will manpiulate guys who weren't that popular with the girls back home but the minute they get married, another person comes out from under that beautiful exterior. In short sex can be a powerful weapon.

  4. "I don't think that the care of children should be genderized."

    I don't think Maia was implying that it should be. I read this post as a (very eloquent) commentary on how undervalued women's (unpaid) domestic work is. It goes without saying that there are men doing this domestic work too; I too was raised by a stay-at-home dad.

    For those who don't know her work, I recommend Marilyn Waring's writings on the subject of women's unpaid work and the economy. "If Women Counted", etc.

  5. So, is raising children women's work or not? I always supported what I thought was the feminist argument, that raising children doesn't require gender specialisation once it gets beyond breastfeeding, so that's what we should be aiming for. This post seems to suggest otherwise.

    I did note that Briscoes felt we could celebrate Mothers' Day by buying her a vacuum cleaner - now there's adding insult to injury for ya...

  6. I don't think raising children is, by default, women's work. Lots of men are doing it, and doing a great job of it. But still, unpaid childcare is, in the majority of cases worldwide, done by women. (I do get your point, Milt, but I'm not sure the erstwhile feminist goal of men and women doing equal shares of domestic labour is ever going to happen, at least not in my lifetime.) And like all other unpaid work that mostly gets done by women (household chores, cooking for the family, etc), the immense amount of work that goes into childrearing is undervalued and not recognized as "real work" by the patriarchal concept of the economy. That's because women still don't "count" in patriarchy.

  7. maia - please dont take any of these comments as relating to your individual situation. I am sure your mother did a huge job in doing her best to bring you up as a balanced person.

    stef - thats exactly the point.
    care of kids is not just a womans issue. society is improved when a father has an active role in a childs upbringing. the state should always be asking whether the result of an action is to divide the family or to support it. and where the family has already split where the action will have the effect of reducing one parents role in raising the child.

    anderson - you are clearly an idiot if you think fathers are forced on families by anyone. They have a genetic role.

    You think that a state with more than a presumption that custody should remain with the mother does not have a bias, it is just whinging men. Get a life - do you have children?

  8. Anonymous9:19 am

    "anderson - you are clearly an idiot if you think fathers are forced on families by anyone. They have a genetic role."

    I don't just think, I know. A number of churches (in the case I'm particularly thinking of Mormon) push fathers on to families simply because they believe in partriarchy. This is not a feminist analysis, this is the churches preferred form of family organisation. I've seen the result of this fallout.

    The genetic role ends at conception. That's it. All other information imparted by the paternal father after that point good, bad or otherwise is optional - and certainly not genetic.

    I'm sure there are men who have been through the system who have genuine issues - however from reading the statements of advocates/activists I can only conclude that the advocates are whingers, who have hijacked these issues to bang their own women-hating drums.

    No I don't have children and yes I have a life. Quite a good one. How is this relevant?

  9. Xavier would provide a far more scientific & eloquent slapdown, and he would be from your side of the political spectrum.

    I have blogged on this

  10. Anonymous11:35 am

    If anyone is interested, the eloquent slapdown is still pending on sagenz's site. You have to look around for it on google, but it's not hard to find.