Prospect in the UK magazine started out as an interesting new project that presented views from across the political spectrum. I took it for several years, but dropped it as it looked more and more rightwing, a trend that seems to be continuing, judging by the Working girls article in this month’s issue. (Love how women are turned into “girls” – not really grown-ups in the view of the magazine.)
It claims that women’s “fully equal access” to professional opportunities (ha!) has three results:
1. The “death of the sisterhood”: “an end to the millennia during which women of all classes shared the same major life experiences to a far greater degree than did their men.
2. The end of “female altruism” – “The period from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century was a golden age for the “caring” sector in one major respect. It had the pick of the country’s most brilliant, energetic and ambitious women, who worked in it as paid employees, but who also gave enormous amounts of time for free. Now, increasingly, they do neither.”
3. A “shortage” of babies: “In most developed countries, birth rates are well below replacement level.”
1. Women never were a “sisterhood”, never were allowed to be a sisterhood – because their primarily allegiance was, or was supposed to be, the male to whom they were attached. In competing to get and keep a man, they were forced into opposition with each other, and societal structures pushed them to police each other to enforce “appropriate” female behaviour.
2. Alternatively, of course, you could call this the end to the exploitation of women pushed, by lack of other opportunities, to use their skills and talents for no pay and precious little recognition.
3. The birth rate figure is true, but given the huge number of humans in the world no bad thing. And anyway, the Scandinavia states have shown that if you provide sufficient incentives in terms maternity and paternity pay and leave, you’ll get to something close to replacement rate.
This sort of pernicious stuff needs to be challenged, although it is extremely difficult to get anything in the mainstream media, given the views of the average male editor. (Funny how all this equality hasn’t produced a flood of female editors…)