Bold headline in the Daily Telegraph:
Women were much better off in the 1950s
WOMEN with working husbands are tied to the sink by a welfare system hampering job hunting.
Since when does “women with working husbands” equal “women” in general?
Anyway, I’m not convinced that the two arguments the Tele offers in support of that assertion – even as it applies to the smaller group in question – are sufficient to justify it:
- women “have less help from the Federal Government’s job-seeking services now than in the 1950s”; and
- “even when they find a job, they then have difficulties taking it because of inadequate before and after school childcare, non-existent holiday minding services and inflexible working hours” and they are therefore “also more likely to refuse job promotions”.
Oh, I see – the “women” of the headline is actually “women with working husbands AND children”.
Even so, whilst it is indeed true that women in general are disadvantaged in today’s workforce compared with their male counterparts, it is clearly ridiculous to argue that they were “better off in the 1950s” when the barriers were even greater.
Okay, so yes, job-seeking services are targeted at those without a working partner – ie, the poorest among us – but what is the Tele suggesting we should do instead? I doubt it’s advocating greater public spending on jobseeking services – isn’t it the “we need tax cuts” media organisation? For the same reason, I’m somewhat dubious of its complaints about the privatisation of government employment assistance – doesn’t it usually cheerlead for privatisation?
As for the disadvantages women face in the workforce – those are real problems that we should be tackling. But they were worse in the 1950s – a time when women’s participation in the professional workforce was overtly frowned-upon.
The piece seems to be trying to blame what came after the 1950s – a more active post-suffrage feminist movement – for the difficulties women face now, rather than, for example, the lack of adequate government funding for childcare, or employers’ unhelpful approach to issues like working hours. Blaming feminists for the problems that they’ve been fighting hard against for more than fifty years, and giving the entities with the power to actually enact change a free pass. I’m sure that plays very well to a certain audience, but it’s both absurd and offensive.
Still, as a piece of provocative link-bait – mission accomplished.