Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Women's work

"I've never yet met a man who could look after me, I don't need a husband. What I need is a wife" (Joan Collins)

Neil had a habit of belittling the work of stay at home moms (SAHMs). His argument was quite logical, that their work simply did not have the value that society assigns to it. Take for example a wealthy barrister. If his wife dies he can easily pay for all the services she provides, childcare ($100 a day - pah), a cleaner, a chef, a prostitute.. this doesn't even take up a quarter of his salary. So how when they divorce does she get half his assets? it is simply out of proportion.

My new found strength and independence has lead me to believe that I can go it alone as a single working mother - I only have one child! 2 of us, that's half a regular family right? Plenty of men on my salary support a stay at home wife and two kids.

So, I now get to do "the practical" of what Neil was describing, and it is very difficult. Because dear friends if I had a wife at home she would be doing so much more than cleaner, childcare, chef, hooker. I could rely on her to pick the kids up if I worked late, she would give me emotional support and feedback on my adult concerns, she would take care of all those niggly little jobs - taking the car for service, liasing with the kids teachers, dentist appointments, booking holidays... Economy of scale! Danah! suddenly 4 can live for the price of 2.

Then there's the house. Somewhere in the recent past I accepted that I live here in some sense courtesy of Neil. The house is an artifact of our relationship. But I have actually put more money onto the mortgage than him. Now the relationship is over, much as it hurts me I have to give up the house.

Not Neil, No sir-eee!! He believes the house is his. Because he is the man of the house. He enjoyed that joke about the global financial crisis which went "this is even worse that divorce - I lost half my assets and I still have my wife". So he thinks he can just pay me off with a token sum and I'll be out of his hair. He actually believes that, courtesy of living with me for 3 years, this asset is his birthright.

Clearly he lives in a man's world with mans concerns where women's work is valueless and all women are out to fleece men regardless of their own (the women's) earning capacity and financial standing. Because they give birth they can never truly perform in a man's world and as such are by definition eternally beholden to their men folk, and further they should be grateful for this and not get antsy in any way up to and including divorce.

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