Saturday, March 21, 2009

Young, white and unhappy

A friend of mine works in a pub and recently posed a question that he says he hears from a lot of his customers.  Young white men are feeling discriminated against - the last group of people it is ok to discriminate against.

I'm tempted to list a range of statistics to counter this, but I'm not sure angry numbers work as an argument against this.  I think what they are probably feeling is a reduction in privileges as preferential treatment can no longer be assumed and a sense of entitlement is being eroded.  So relatively, individually, they are worse off than they might have expected (although society is better-off), but, generally, probably still better off than a lot of groups.

What do you think?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Good things

Feeling like a lot more is right with the world than has been recently.  That's in my own life, of course, rather than, for example, Northern Ireland...

It feels like spring is coming, and it's much lighter outside.  For a SAD sufferer, that's a big deal - saves me half an hour every morning sitting in front of a lightbox.

Jake, my favourite baby, said his first word yesterday.  Predictably, it was "mummy" rather than "I love my Aunty Sarah very much," but I was there and I heard it.  I love seeing Jake - he's just very cute and very uncomplicated.

A family member is quite unwell at the moment.  It's been a worrying week but I'm getting used to the worry - which feels quite positive.

I've been driving to visit aforementioned family member.  I feel very glad to have the freedom my car brings.

My first essay is nearing completion.  I'm developing a sense that maybe it's ok for my work to be ok, rather than outstanding all the time.

I've been working on some other issues as well: what I think about God, what I think about having babies, what I think about my career.  I'm feeling very positive.  I'm approaching 30 and I have an idea about what I want out of life.

I have a very nice husband.

I'm training to run the Manchester 10k, I'm going to do it very badly, and that is going to be ok.

My best friend is coming home for the summer very soon.

As I said, all is well with the world.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Time for a change

I'm still thinking about gender and work-life balance and participation in paid and domestic work.  I've just read the most depressing article - it looks at earnings and participation rates for men and women in dual-career households and finds that there is little difference between men and women - until they have children - then women's participation and earnings are significantly reduced for the rest of their lives (Hardill and Watson, 2004).  It appears to be very difficult to have two careers and children - and when something has to give, it is usually the woman's career, with a knock-on effect on her future pension and personal ambitions.

I accept that there is an element of choice within this - but people make choices within a social context of expectations, legislation and practicalities.  While access to paternity leave is so poor and so badly-paid, and while men feel their careers are at risk from taking a career break to care, it is unlikely that this situation will change.  

But I'm not sure why women are expected to suffer financially and have their careers damaged.  Within all the literature and discussions around the issue there seems to be a feeling that the children 'belong' to their mother and are her responsibility.  For example, one reason for the move from 'family friendly' policies to 'work-life balance' policies is that employers feared that they were seen to only benefit women.  Freeing up one partner to work part-time and carry out child care and domestic labour benefits both partners by allowing the other to work full-time.  Dinner does not cook itself and dirty clothes do not wash themselves and food does not buy itself and put itself into the fridge and cupboards.  But because this work is unpaid, is is not even considered within the economic framework we live in.

I think what I'm trying to say is that a change is needed - I'm just not sure what.