When I get an idea in my head I do tend to get a bit carried away with it. There’s a thing called confirmation bias, if you’ve heard of it, where you get a first idea in your head, and while researching to see if it is correct, you let everything reaffirm your original assumption. “I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!” I’m a wee bit prone.
If I was to allow myself to get a bit carried away, I could start to think that the gender inequality in parenting is at the route of all of the trouble with gender inequality that we have. I wouldn’t let myself get that carried away. But if I did, I can see how I might start connecting dots all over the place.
If I was to get a bit carried away, I could easily connect the gender pay gap, and the shortage of women in senior positions, to gender inequality in parenting. Well that one’s probably not that much of a stretch, to be honest. Clearly historically it is exactly the fact that women had their place, to raise the family and be at home, that has resulted in men ruling the world of work, the arts and politics.
Yet we don’t hear about it all that very much when we talk about gender inequality in work these days. Yes, often there is mention of how work needs to be more accommodating to the needs of those who are carers, therefore affording women who are (most often) carers the same chances as men who are (most often) not. But shouldn’t we talk about the fact that women are most often carers, more then men, in that very same discussion?
If I was to get a bit carried away, I might connect the objectification of women to gender inequality in parenting. When women have a role thrust upon them, I might think, which pins them to their home, they are effectively extracted from society more broadly. I really would never be carried away enough to believe that this was a deliberate consequence of the patriarchy as I don’t think “the patriarchy” could be all that intelligent.
Nevertheless, I could, if I was to get a wee bit carried away, see how the extraction of women from society, and even just a portion of women, could add to a general sense of their otherness. The otherness of women, which miraculously converts them to a minority, and some sort of outside thing. Not being present, the idea of what “they are” is allowed to become abstracted and warped to the point of vulgarity. “They are boobs.” “They are curves.” “They are sex.”
If I was to get a bit carried away, I could carry that thought through to the unsafety of women on the streets at night. Objectified, and made a rarity, they become something that can be preyed upon. By the few, of course, but the idea would still remain, that those few have a legitimate place in the night, while those women cannot.
If I was to get a bit carried away, I would connect the horrifying reality of domestic violence that so many women experience to gender inequality in parenting. Looking after a child or children, with no support from a partner also living in the home, could be depleting. If that partner also expected something for himself, and that something was to become no longer available, you can see how trouble could arise.
I’m getting carried away. I’m oversimplifying to the extreme. The reality is much, much more complex than this. But the thing is, I don’t know what to do about the fact that there is a community called incel. And I don’t know what to do about the fact of the atrocities happening to women’s rights in Afghanistan right now. I don’t know what to do about any of the awful impacts that gender inequality in our society have.
I’m privileged. I haven’t experienced a lot of discrimination or hardship in my life. But I recognise inequality when I do see it. And I think that by trying to impact this inequality, that I, in my privileged world, even though it might seem like it doesn’t really matter, like it’s only little small things, has an impact to the wider world. It’s together that we set the standard, so if only to shake that up a bit, it’s worth it for every family to give it a bit of a go.
That’s what I think. But I do tend to get a bit carried away.