Today I was contacted by a researcher for BBC Any Answers on Twitter in response to a tweet I’d sent them. Earlier in the week I was idly listening to any questions. Lord Tebbit, Conservative Chair was talking, not even sure what the news story was, but he mentioned employment laws for small business and started blaming, yes you’ve guessed it, those darn women getting pregnant. He lives in fear apparently of the horror of the women he employees getting pregnant. I tweeted my disgust at his comments. In anticipation of the Any Questions show the researcher wanted to call me so I could air my view. I declined for a couple of reasons. I’m clearly happy to sit my views but my weapon of choice is my keyboard rather than my voice, at least to the general public. I’d be terrified of saying something stupid or coming off like a moaning minnie. I mean Any Questions is just a middle class version of the Jeremy Vine show, full of Disgusteds of Tunbridge Wells. Why don’t these people just write blogs?
The other deciding factor is I had 3 young children on my own this afternoon. Can you imagine me trying to make a serious point about feminism with “Mummy, I’ve done a poo” or “Iris is putting stones in her nappy” in the background? Hello YouTube.
But, not wanting to seem like someone who won’t put their money where their mouth is I thought I’d write a controlled and planned blog post instead.
Let me caveat this with the fact that I rarely read feminist discourse. I’m not well versed in political theory. I’m a feminist by gut instinct and logical analysis. I don’t have the language and reason more seasoned feminists have, and none of this is evidenced based.
Glad we’ve got that clear. So isn’t it nice that one of the high ranking politicians in the country’s (almost) leading party views my childbearing status with such horror. Do you know what, as a fertile woman I am so fucked off with being scape goated as the source of the problems for small businesses. I didn’t choose to be a woman. And do you know what, if DH could have been pregnant and given birth instead of me I would have let him in an instant. Does Lord Tebbit think it was fun to have 9 months of nausea, insomnia and joint pains? Not to mention 6 months when I was always only seconds away from crapping myself due loss of pelvic floor muscles post partum?
Sure we could chose not to have children but a) that would affect the perception employers have of me as a potential gravida, and b) wouldn’t the world be a bit screwed if ALL women chose to stop having kids. Can’t have it all ways Lord Tebbit.
Wouldn’t it be nice if more value was given to child bearing? You can bet if it was men’s job it would be. Women need maternity leave for several reasons. Firstly for recovering from pregnancy and labour. That 6 months or so is handy for getting back your pelvic floor in time for being released back into society. It’s important for establishing a breastfeeding relationship if that is what the mother wants. And it is important for creating a nurturing bond with the child, bringing up a child who feels loved and secure so they can grow up to be upstanding members of society. Perhaps one of my children will be the one caring for an elderly Tebbit in years to come. Hopefully then he will value the time I spent nurturing them and caring for them. But then I did stiff my company for two sets of maternity leave – mwah ha ha!
Yes maternity leave is a bit of a pain for small businesses. But the government pays the basic leave benefits so not as much of a pain as you’d think. I’m sure all those pesky equality laws are a pain for SMEs too. Let’s just say they don’t have to employee any disabled people, none of those gays or coloureds (might upset the customers), and certainly no women who look like they might get pregnant (maybe if they just picked the really ugly ones…).
No, I don’t really have any of the answers. But then I am not paid to. Now if only there was a group of people who were paid to solve this sort of problem, intelligent people who could represent everyone in the country….if only.