Of course I’ve always been aware that different expectations are placed on mums and dads. Of course I’ve known that traditionally mums and dads have played different roles in the family. I really shouldn’t have been surprised, when our two girls were born, that expectations coming from all corners were that I would be the primary carer. But I really was.
I’ve grown up in a time when girls have increasingly been told that they can do anything. Bit by bit over the last couple of decades we’ve seen the gender inequalities in our society falling away. This is often, as I’ve thought about it, relating to work. More and more women are taking on positions that have always been held by men. With no kids, for the last 15 years work has been a pretty substantial part of my life. I’ve been in a bubble.
I’m not under any illusion that in the world of work – in business, politics and the arts – that we’re there yet. But I have believed that we are on the way. Girls need to be educated differently than in the past, to be taught to have confidence and self-belief and I’ve heard that teachers and children’s authors are working on that. Boys need to be educated differently than in the past; I’ve heard that they’re working on that too. Unconscious bias in the workplace needs to be identified and addressed, and all around me I’ve seen businesses and workplaces taking action. So I thought that the right things were happening. And yes, although I really shouldn’t have been, I really have been shocked at how all expectations have been stacked, as a female parent, onto me.
Why aren’t we talking about this? The fight for gender equality is alive and well and yet gender equality in parenting doesn’t seem to feature in the conversation. Is it because parenting is a topic that is so deeply entrenched in the world of women? Is it because biology is so little understood that it is blown out to cover things that really are no more than cultural? Is it because parenting is so personal, and so sensitive, that where the negotiation for equality lies is in the privacy of our individual homes?
In this blog I will share my own ideas, opinions and observations, and I’m looking forward to hearing others’ ideas in return. One thing I’m certain of is, that when it comes to achieving the gender equality that we need, when it comes to feminism, it is time to #takeithome.