Our grandmothers battled for the right of women to partake fully in the economy and to be seen as equals, to be seen as human beings. Yet, in the past few years, well-educated career women seem to be choosing to become stay at home mums (SAHM’s).
Feminists seem to view this as regression of all that was achieved over fifty years ago. Why is it that this generation of women are returning to rearing their own children and is it necessarily a bad thing? Surely, if this is truly their choice, it should not be questioned as we should believe that these women are intelligent enough to make that decision?
For some couples the choice that one parent will stay at home is based upon the fact that they would rather their children where raised with their family values, by someone well educated and in a close knit family environment. These parents would like their children to develop with a social conscience.
It is unfortunate that, in general, it is the woman in the relationship who has to lay her career on the wayside for a few years, as men are still the main breadwinners in most families – although the numbers of men spotted in playgroups appears to be on the rise. However, if the choice to stay at home is based purely on the fact that childcare costs far outweigh the financial benefits of both parents working or that women have to downgrade their careers due to the needs placed upon a family, then that is something our government needs to work on.
From a feminists point of view it would seem to be utter madness to choose to leave yourself totally vulnerable. Gloria Steinem, American feminist and journalist, is quoted as saying ‘Most women are one man away from welfare’. When looking at it from this perspective, it is worrying that women are not returning to their careers. What, then, happens to these SAHM’s if the relationship fails and they are left to raise their children as a single parent? SAHM’s are financially, totally reliant on their partners.
The other concern, of course, is that our daughters and sons are brought up believing that a woman’s place is in the home and that women live for their children. How can we expect our daughters to be ambitious and strive towards a career which will ensure self sufficiency, yet choose the path of least resistance ourselves?
Sabine Salmon, president of the association Femmes Solidaires, said in an interview with Lizzy Davies in the Guardian , that during school visits over the past two years her employees had noticed more and more French schoolgirls expressing a desire to stay at home. “It’s a very worrying indicator,” she said.
Whether women choose to return to work or not, something has to give. There are two choices – loss of career advancement or loss of time with your children. Which choice is the right one?