If it’s not Liberal Democrat Executives, the ‘ brilliant quip’ of the self-styled Leader of UKIP or our own Prime Minister with his cheap put down of Angela Eagle – we seem to be at it again… Men that should know better undermining, harassing and generally demeaning women in public.
Why am I writing (a man) about the benefits of feminism? To misquote Monty Python ‘What did Feminism ever do for us’? I will answer this question later. As it happens, for men in western economies in the 21st Century, quite a lot. Despite serious advances in women’s role, position and status in society, its worth asking a few questions about really how much the world has changed.
* Who is still the highest earner in most families?
* Even in dual income households who does the childcare responsibility (think about the nursery pick up vs late meeting?
* When a child is sick, who takes time off work to be with child?
* Who organises the childcare during the school holidays?
* When one partner is promoted who is most likely to give up their career to support the other?
A recent IPPR report suggested that women in the UK, still shoulder most of the burden when it comes to childcare and housework. This brings me back to the question of ‘what has feminism ever done for us’? Interesting in the early 21st century us men have gained some enormous benefits, the demand for greater work life balance, flexible working, and paternity leave are just a few direct and indirect benefits of the feminist struggle. As fathers now, we get to see ( and are expected to play) a much greater role in our children’s live than our fathers ever did. We are also protected by law on flexible working, and it is still mightily celebrated if we leave early on a friday to pick the kids up from school….
So when are we men going to payback some of that good will? When will the mindset shift happen? More importantly, when will our politicians, of all political persuasions, stop acting like playground bullies and start putting a bit more thought into what it really takes to bridge the gender equality gap?
Recently, the BBC celebrated the Dagenham equal pay strikes of the 1960s. Ironically, the film was directed by a man, Nigel Cole. I am not sure what it says about the film industry, but given the unsocial hours and trips away from home, perhaps all the potential female film directors are maybe having to look after the children rather than being allowed to make the next blockbuster?