'This relentless barrage instills a state of mild panic that our nervous systems aren't designed to handle'
If the Daily Mail is anything to go by today, working as a woman and leading a ‘modern life’ is bad for you – and is causing a ‘crisis’ amongst ‘traditional’ families. Not one but three articles plug this point.
An article on page seven laments the fact that women have ‘no time to cook, sew’, ‘spring clean’, ‘iron bed linen’, ‘mend holes in clothes’ or do ‘traditional tasks’ generally.
The article goes on to claim that ‘the rigours of modern life mean [women are] having to make sacrifices’. Because, obviously, it’s a huge sacrifice to no longer have to cook and clean all the time.
Women in the 70s and 80s ‘had more time as they didn’t have to work’, we’re told to drill the point home.
On page two, the Mail reports that pay and living standards have fallen behind for ‘traditional families’, where only the father works are ‘in crisis’.
What appears at first as a story about wage stagnation, however, quickly gets to its morally regressive point: pay for working women has grown faster than it has for working men and only because ‘benefit and tax credit payments have doubled since then’.
It concludes saying ‘traditional’ one-earner families are being ‘punished’ by the tax and benefit system.
Finally, on page 34 to 35, readers are asked ‘are you a victim of Rushing Woman’s Syndrome?’
‘These days’, the author tells us, ‘women struggle to juggle families, careers and the chaos of life, operating in a permanent state of stress that leaves out hormones in turmoil’.
Echoing the most regressive forms of Victorian quackery, the article continues:
“This relentless barrage instills a state of mild panic that our nervous systems aren’t designed to handle.”
The article goes on to conclude that ‘work requires you to be ‘masculine” but this ‘masculine influence’ can be offset by ‘bringing more feminine rituals into your life’.
Well, there you have it. The great tragedy of our time is not that inequality between men and women in the workplace continues – but that women have joined the workforce at all.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.