By Faye Wardell
The average age of women having children is rising (Office for National Statistics), with more and more women starting a family after 35. Some women feel increasing pressure to pursue a career before they even think about having children. Between building a career, enjoying life and trying to find a suitable partner, it’s no wonder the average age has risen, how are we expected to find the time to do it all?
Speaking for myself, I’m nearing 30. I don’t have a long-term partner. I’ve gone back to university and I haven’t even started my career. So, by the time I have begun to work my way up the career ladder and somehow found time to go on dates, with the hope of finding a suitable partner to actually have children with, looks like I’ll be in my late 30s before I even consider having them.
This seems to be the norm among women my age, which got me thinking what do I really want and what do I feel I should have or be? Could it be that we’ve all become a bit lost in the ideals of equality and feminism?
Of course, we should be able to vote and should be equal in all the ways that matter, but why have we agreed that keeping the house and home together is somewhat less important and why does being able to do the same things as men, mean we feel we have to do the same things as men?
I’m not talking about voting, or the ability to work, I’m talking about the pressure on women to pursue a successful career that would seemingly give us ‘equality’ in today’s society. Because of feminism we have the opportunities to build careers and work, and there is pressure to do so, as though if we don’t then it was all in vain and therefore undermining everything our predecessors struggled for. But patriarchal attitudes still pressurise us to be responsible for and good at being a homemaker, a child-raiser and an elderly-carer as that’s still a woman’s place, although of course we can have a career on top. It’s also the dead-hand of patriarchal thought that ensures that men who would be better at being those things rather than traditional “men’s work” are treated as not being proper men.
We should be encouraged to do anything we want to, and that may be at home, raising kids, or to go out and build a career, equally men should be able to say and do the same.
Unfortunately, society thinks being equal and doing the same thing means the same. Being equal is about equal importance and equal respect and in that sense, not a lot has changed.
Working to make money is a necessity and very few get to do a job they love. Building a home and having the knowledge and ability to support and guide your family, is also a necessity. Somewhere along the way we’ve been led to believe it’s a massive chore, less rewarding and inferior to a career. Why do we choose to be offended by the fact that someone needs to be the homemaker (male or female)?
So, we go to work, drink crap coffee doing a job we don’t like with people we don’t really care about, thinking that it is a luxury and that what we’re doing makes us equal. We pay people to raise our children and do our housework, all so we can live a certain way – but the irony is we aren’t living, we are just existing, while life happens without us.
Really, we should be asking what’s important to us as individuals and why care what society thinks we should do with our lives? Surely, we’d all be a lot happier if we focused on what made us happy and not what we’re told will make us equal.