Virginia Barton

Benefitting from the bra-burning brigade

Catholic Herald, 12 August 1988

 

Heaven forbid I should be accused of lacking in spunk. If I don’t address myself to the flavor of the month, shouts of “chicken” or “ostrich” may well ruffle the plumage of this particular bird.

Unlike some of my sisters-in-print, the issue of women and their so-called rights never struck me as a cause for which I would be prepared to woman the barricades. But chacun à son goût, and one must admit we women have benefitted, to some extent, from the chained-to-the-railings, bra-burning brigade.

We have also suffered at second-hand from some of their antics. In the West at least, our collective reputation is in danger of being branded by quite a few of the opposite sex, as part of that “monstrous regiment”. You can’t really blame the chaps. It must be bewildering to find the gentler sex crashing in on your job, wearing your clothes, playing your games and paying your mortgage. No whingeing, girls, if the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow turns out to be an emasculated, disoriented Peter Pan.

The gradual encroachment by women into traditionally male preserves is bound to undermine the confidence of Man the bread-winner, Man the protector of mate and offspring. If the modern Amazon renders these atavistic instincts redundant, Man, who is a lazy louse and needs powerful motives to get him off his bum, is hardly likely to bring home the bacon.

What bothers me about these well-paid, hyperactive, career-conscious females is, who’s left minding the baby? Many, thank goodness, choose not to have one. Indeed it’s difficult to see the point in having children if you then shuffle the responsibility of their upbringing onto the shoulders of strangers. Part-time parents tend to bring up part-time people.

Like it or not, the creation of a solid family unit is, and always has been, women’s work. The results of the disintegration of family life are plain for all to see. Teachers, police and social-workers, at the sharp-end of the confrontation between footloose kids and authority, are spelling it out in capital letters.

I’m afraid women must take a large share of the blame for lawlessness in our living-rooms, class-rooms, and on our streets. We are not rearing our children as we should and as they deserve. We have been diverted from this often exhausting, sometimes boring, always challenging task, info the accumulation of material goodies and the pursuit of a personal career. Whichever way you look at it, someone has to make the homes where most of us spend two-thirds of our time. And that is a full-time job.

The occupation of housewife has fallen into such disrepute, some women quail at describing themselves as such. This low-profile humdrum career is beneath the notice of the educated girl with high expectations and high earning potential. Yet it is an honourable, totally fulfilling and creative job; ask anyone who has done it seriously.

Happy families don’t just happen, and they can’t be magic’d into existence by the State.

And don’t be persuaded you feel “marginalised” (favourite new word of the feminist raspers) if you choose to stay at home and do your stuff as wife and mother. Poppycock. The satisfaction of doing the job to the best of your ability, and the honour and esteem which will be your reward, far outweighs any medals the world may choose to bestow. Even If you don’t make a brass farthing out of it.

 

 

 

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