It’s interesting to see that here in Victoria, Labour Day and IWD have fallen on the same day this year. Because despite the popular belief that feminism is for boring old fuddy-duddies because all the inequality stuff has been done and dusted, the facts on the ground show that that’s not so. A new report by the ILO tells us what most of us already know: Despite signs of progress in gender equality over the past 15 years, there is still a significant gap between women and men in terms of job opportunities and quality of employment.
Labour day is a bit of a dog’s breakfast in Melbourne because the proper Labour day is the first of May, but we celebrate it – or rather ignore it – on the second monday in March, when the government goes apeshit with bread and circuses (“Moomba”) to deflect any unseemly focus on those nasty unions and their dreadful preoccupation with working conditions.
Me, I’m still hoping that the green shoots I’ve seen where I work – as in, young dads with young children taking days off or leaving early for childcare and school commitments – continue to grow. As a feminist, I’m not interested in work vs. stay-home arguments which are predicated on the model of women being overwhelmingly responsible for child wrangling and domestic work. There’s always the accusation that feminists would deny mothers that “choice”. I wouldn’t deny it to anyone, but I’m not satisfied that in the present cultural climate (still) it’s really a choice. I’d rather see the domestic load being spread more and more evenly between parents as the years pass, and the notion of the Perfect Employee pass into history. That’s where more rubber will hit the road, for a better and more humane work world.
And if I’m wrong (and even if I’m not) some people of that future time will still be bad-mouthing the ber-loody feminists.