Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More on Equality - Parliamo di nuovo di Parita'

In the last two weeks or so, I have spent a significant amount of time on the phone, talking with doctors, nurses and social workers about removing my IUD. If I had been in a job, I would have had to take long breaks, in the morning, to have these long phone conversations about my uterus. If I had been in a job, by now, I would have no vacation left after this and the four days of cramps that followed the first unsuccessful attempt to remove the foreign object.  But men and woman are equal. Or could it be that some women are more equal than others?

Apparently, in less than two weeks, in order to remove my IUD, I need to have a procedure with general anesthesia (yes, they'll put me to sleep). And, I was forced to agree that I will take full responsibility for any damage that may result to my uterus and intestine from the procedure.

Everyone read "Why women still can't have it all", an article which talks about a woman who decides to give up a high-powered position to return home and take care of her children, because if she doesn't do it, who does it? There are other women (including women I know), who are forced to stay at home because, unlike others, they cannot afford expensive childcare, because they don't want their children to stop eating lunch or simply because they don't want to ask a stranger to wave at their children at the gate when they come out of school. They don't want to take shortcuts as parents.

We also hear stories about mothers with brilliant careers. "If these women have done it, we can do it too" My question is how? And please tell me, how does this affect the life of both the mother and the children? Yet, I constantly meet women who are waiting for their second child, while their first one is raised by others at daycare, or who are about to apologize for not wanting more.

The truth is that few parents have the time and energy to discipline (I DON'T MEAN SPOIL) their children. Disciplining a child is one of the hardest jobs for a parent. Probably the hardest. With an irrational toddler, it involves manual labor and it drains one's energies. Imagine, how hard it could possibly be when the person who does it has other priorities (and more than one child). I know mothers who, for this reason, are unable to teach their children to properly sit at the table, eat a meal, put their shoes on or leave a public place when it is time to go. When they get home from work, they have no desire to cook, nor to raise their voice with their children. Some of these children are malnourished and are forced to take vitamins or other supplements. Unfortunately, as research showed, these supplements cannot replace the nutrients that are contained in fresh food. 

Again, who should do this job? The babysitter? Certainly not. The daycare center? Not really. The pre-schools? They are more concerned about how to introduce algebra in their curriculum than what they should do to discipline and feed your children. The grandparents? This only works in countries like Italy, where the stay-at-home mom (la casalinga) still exists and has done this job her whole life. I am afraid to have to tell you that disciplining and feeding your child is not the job of the childcare providers. Sorry. It is a parent's job - and it is a full-time job. But again, who does it if both the woman and the man in the family dislike manual labor and want, instead, employment that can challenge them intellectually? My mother's answer: they shouldn't have had children in the first place.

Do you still think a better answer to this would be to get a highly paid job? Sorry to disappoint you but a new study has just shown that stressful jobs have cardiovascular health effects on women. Surprising? And these effects are probably going to be even higher for women with job strain and children. Also, although women as a group have made substantial gains in wages, educational attainment, and prestige over the past three decades, the economists Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson have shown that women are less happy today than their predecessors were forty years ago, both in absolute terms and relative to men.

So, remember. No matter how hard you'll fight to ask for equal rights and for equal respect as a woman, you will continue to deal with birth control issues and parenting priorities in addition to your work priorities, and this will not be beneficial to the people involved.


  1. Well said!
    From a new stay at home mom in Maryland.

  2. Update: Young children in daycare are 50 percent more likely to be overweight than those who stay at home with their parents! One more point to my decision of keeping William at home!