It's a well known fact that this blog loves a bit of celebrity gloss, goss and sparkle. I've referenced outfits, reviewed memoirs, shared a bit of Carpool Karaoke (stop the press... Lady Gaga is carpooling this week!!) and even gotten a bit misty eyed about celeb relationships from back in the good old days...
What I try to avoid doing, though, is to write about celebrities (or anyone else for that matter) as if I know them well enough to judge their apparent actions (photos and news articles are often not the whole truth) or presume to know what they're thinking. Which is going to make writing today's post a bit of a challenge because the opinion piece I'd like to discuss begins by referencing a recently separated celebrity couple but then goes on to intelligently discuss how the situation and its consequences may apply to other women, celebrity or otherwise.
Angela Mollard recently wrote this opinion piece entitled 'This Is Why Women Should Never Give Up Their Jobs'. The context was how the wife of the relationship had taken to social media to express her feelings about how she had sacrificed so much and worked tirelessly behind the scenes so that her estranged husband could both work hard and enjoy the ratings success of his television program. The wife concluded that she would have to congratulate herself because her efforts have gone largely unrecognized by the network and her husband's agent.
Mollard went on to develop her argument about why women should do everything in their power to keep a toe hold on their profession even through those early and challenging early years of raising the children. She acknowledges the challenges that face women trying to do this but she also goes on to outline some of the many positives of having a paid job outside of the family. Work can be a source of self esteem, an identity beyond being someone's mother or wife, it is a source of financial security and it can also be a life line when things get tough.
And now I'll get onto this soap box of mine. I'm very much with Angela Mollard on the issue of the importance of being a working mother. Not just for financial reasons but also for the less tangible effects it has on emotional well being, self esteem and quality of life.
It wasn't a complete surprise that gender equality in the workplace would only become 'my issue' when I became pregnant, went on maternity leave and then returned to work. Up until then, I'd been coasting along on a path cleared, created and fought for me by generations of feminists and suffragettes. I'd completed school, voted, gotten a drivers licence, gone to uni, got given a job, gotten bank accounts and loans. The list goes on and on. I, and the world around me, never questioned my autonomy or independence.
Taking time out from the work force complicates things a little. Not so much the autonomy side of things but there was this niggling fear about money and how what I'd saved could only stretch so far whilst I was on leave. I was also a bit nervous about whether my time off would leave me deskilled and a bit rusty on my return.
I went back to work when Preschooler SSG was around 9 months old. I wasn't as rusty as I thought I would be, it felt like I'd returned from a long holiday (!!) and after a few weeks, it was as if I'd never actually disappeared for almost a year. I actually enjoyed learning to balance the worlds of work and parenting and found myself more present at each when I had no choice but to juggle them both.
But is it right or fair to presume this should be the path all women take after they become mothers? It's easy for me to agree with Mollard's piece because she articulates what I feel about my career. I don't have a good answer for this but I have read the concerning statistics. The rise of homelessness in older women who don't fit the stereotype of women feeling domestic violence or dealing with addiction but find themselves suddenly homeless after a string of unfortunate financial insults. The fact that one in three Australian women reach retirement age with no superannuation. And then there's the anecdotal stories of friends and acquaintances whose lives are suddenly turned upside down in middle age with seemingly no way for them to dig themselves out of a bad financial situation because they are unable to re enter the work force after decades of absence.
Did you read Angela Mollard's article? Could you relate to her arguments?