"Girlfriends of the Court"

Damned if you do, Damned if you dont, Damn you.

In Balance, non law, Parenting, women on April 7, 2011 at 8:27 pm


I couldn’t help noticing the piece in the Hun yesterday about women with children feeling stigmatised when they went back to work after having kids, and others feeling stigmatised if they stayed home, and didn’t go back to work!

Almost 60 per cent of working mums were made to feel they weren’t taking parenting seriously enough, the survey, conducted on http://www.careforkids.com.au, reported.

Stay-at-home mums did not fare much better – 40 per cent experienced negativity about their decision not to work.

continued> Women without children often also feel they are characterised as ‘selfish’ or ‘missing’ something (no thanks to M.Latham).

The falsity of this constructed dilemma was captured perfectly by @lissylikesshoes on twitter last week who said:

Have no babies: something is wrong with you; have babies and stay at home: you are lazy; have babies and work: you are evuls. #cannotwin

So that’s good to know; family or no family, single or partnered, paid work or home work; either neither, nither, nor, we cannot win. As soon as we stop judging ourselves against an impossible standard, the sooner we can get on with successfully doing whatever we have to do, choose to do, want to do. What do you think?

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  1. so true. though I am interested to see that women who stay at home with their kids experienced less negativity about that choice – that fits with my anecdotal observations that women in the workforce face tougher attitudes – staying at home is still seen as right by a large majority of the population.

  2. Mmmm, depends on the crowd I think. I know lots of each group who all felt bad whatever they did. Sadly.

  3. Is it just a case of standards that are too high? While working life is shared between the sexes (admittedly with women’s wages at two thirds of men’s) our society still sees the nurture of children as the primary domain of women. Could that be part of the problem?

    • Yes, good point. It also leads to defining women by their parenting (or non parenting) status (eg Gillard).

  4. I have stayed at home for a time, and also worked for a time, and with both I’ve felt under fire from some women.

    At my daughter’s first kindergarten, I was one of the only working mothers, and there were frequently functions which required me to bake and to attend in the middle of the day. I certainly feel as though the women there judged me as a Bad Mother. Never mind that I was trying to finish a PhD, work and look after two kids… In the end we moved from that kinder because it was not a good environment generally.

    I’ve also had other women insist that because I didn’t go back to work immediately after I had kids, I was somehow letting the team down. One ex-boss of mine (a partner in a law firm) rang me 4 months after I’d had my first child. “When are you coming back?” she said.

    “Um, I’ve got at least six months more maternity leave”, I explained. “I don’t feel ready to come back yet.”

    She snorted. “Well those are the kind of sacrifices women have to make if they want to get ahead in this business.” I handed in my resignation the next day. Funnily enough, my boss prior to this woman had been a very old fashioned man, and I would have thought he would have been more problematic to deal with in terms of maternity leave and part time work, but he was vastly more flexible…

    • Yes, there is that nasty syndrome of ‘Sisters doin it for themselves’ but not helping others…

  5. We face inflexible expectations which ever way we go. Good mothers bake cookies. Good workers are fully committed to the workplace.

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