Last month there were 2 popular forwards doing their rounds on Facebook. I take all the forwards on any social networking site with a pinch of salt. They are much to my amusement only. But these 2 - apart from amusing me, also angered me.
One of them was about Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO stating 'Choosing a partner is the most important career-decision a woman can make'. The second was about a post by a dad stating that he could not afford his Stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) wife, because her contributions were monetarily superseding his earnings. Predictably the former forward was most happily posted by working women and the latter by SAHM moms!
The pattern, the generalisation, the whole tone of the both the articles angered me (I am not sure how much truth the articles hold) . And I have got to get it out.
First let me tackle my own kind - the working women. I think they are being supremely narrow minded when they are setting the be-all and end-all of their career as their husband. Yes husband's are important. There is nothing more gracious than a husband who shares house work, since the woman is sharing the accounts. But then is the husband the responsible party for the woman's career?! That is what is technically called a Single Point of Failure. So if we ascertain the single point of failure as the husband, flipping the reasoning, he would be the single point of success as well. How many women would be ok to give the credit of all their success - career wise - to their husband? Guess very few! We would love to take some accolade for our drive, motivation, hard work. If that works for a successful one, that works for every one. Women themselves are solely responsible for their careers. Children, family, husband - all play a role. Then it depends how we handle , or want to handle each of them. When my child was unhappy at daycare, I was on the verge of quitting. Something stopped me, and today both she and I are doing good. Had I quit, things would have panned out differently, but that would have been because of how I handled things. I can assure, my husband would have supported me either way. It was my call.
Another angle of it is most women are considering scenarios of the present generation only. I am a third generation working woman. My grandmothers used to work too! I have many grand-aunts who used to work. All my aunts work. I have seen many situations where they faced opposition from husbands, in laws - what is the need to work? Those were not the days of insatiable wants. But they worked - to improve their overall state, to engage in something fulfilling. They ended up etching a career for themselves and getting the approvals of dissidents. Where there is a will there is a way. It is very easy to pin everything on a single person. And everyone loves a scape-goat!
Now for the cost of not being able to afford a SAHM. I have not heard anything more ludicrous than this! Attaching a monetary value for a mom feeding, giving bath, ensuring naps, changing diapers, et al. First of all, if the dad should get a fact correct - you attach a value to an economic service. Parenting is not an economic service. If it was taken at that, you would need to attach a value to the first trimester of nausea, the second of bloated-ness and the third trimester of sleepless-ness and general discomfort. And pray do not ask me the price of enduring labour, or going through the recovery of a Cesarean section. Mind you - woman do lose their lives in child birth. I am sure if this dad accounted all that costs - that would have been an effective contraception against any progeny.
What a SAHM does, is on her own volition. Adding it up - it is a voluntary activity. There is no price attached to a voluntary activity. If it is involuntary, which means, she was not fit for a job market, then again, she had no scope in engaging in any lucrative economic activity anyway. (I know that sounds harsh!) It is fool hardy to attach a monetary value for child care activities - be it by a working woman or SAHM. It is ok to attach it to a child care worker, since he/she is enabling someone else to earn(i.e. the mother) - by producing goods or services. Hence they are a secondary service in their own regard.
Leaving the solid economic concept line, I feel you cannot attach a price tag on everything. Can we attach a price to what our parents did for us? Can we attach a price on the worry our grandparents feel if they hear we are travelling and have not called back in the past 2 hours? Can we attach a price on the satisfaction on helping a stranger find the way, offering a seat to an elderly, letting a lady with a screaming child ahead in the queue? If we can, then am afraid all hope is lost for humanity!
Well.... these are entirely my opinion, and I would love a healthy argument on either stems. But nothing emotional about it - I would love purely analytic arguments please :)