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In the UK there is a significant historical context to that.  

Women generally were constructed as being more caring and nurturing by nature. Women who worked were expected to give up work when they got married and men's wages were set at levels to support a family. A woman's role was in the home raising the family, and also caring for other adult dependents such as parents.
Of course it is well known that the process of raising a family is highly satisfying for women, because they are fulfilling their 'natural' instinct of caring for others, be that their children or other dependents. So women are best placed to take on a caring role.

Single women were dually constructed as angels/demons.  Think of associations with 'spinsters' - nasty, evil, interfering.  But women are natural carers, so they are also the angels that take up domestic service and look after wealthy people's children.  

The line of thought was that a single woman needed to sublimate her sexual urges by diverting her energy to caring for others and if she didn't have her own children, this process of sublimation could be achieved by looking after other people's children.  Many women were forced to go into domestic services if they weren't married (surplus of women due to the 'lost generation' of men in the war.)

Single women were also expected to look after their parents as they became older and indeed many couples would 'keep' usually their youngest daughter for this purpose and marry the rest off. So single women were able to live a happy and fulfilled life free of frustrated sexual desire by caring for other people.

But this also extended to 'spinsters' who took on roles as midwives and sort of social workers, which in itself was something of an extension on the philanthropic work done by middle classe women attempting to bring morality and Jesus to the unwashed masses of deviant working class women.  So single women eventually became constructed as experts on childbirth and child rearing.

And that, Colman, is why single women who have never had children are more entitled than you to offer their opinions on childbirth and child raising.  Consider it a hangover from the last century.  

The day I am no longer discriminated against in employment for being a woman, be it through wage differentials, assumptions about the worth and value of jobs that women do, or gender roles restricting my choice in the place I take up across the work/home divide; is the day that you can have an opinion about childbirth.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 03:57:50 AM EST
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The day I am no longer discriminated against in employment for being a woman, be it through wage differentials, assumptions about the worth and value of jobs that women do, or gender roles restricting my choice in the place I take up across the work/home divide; is the day that you can have an opinion about childbirth.
That's just great. Anything else you are going to deny people the right to have an opinion about because of a grievance you have with third persons?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 04:07:28 AM EST
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Though I entirely disagree with that statement by In Wales, I find

Migeru:

a grievance you have with third persons

to be an unnecessarily belittling description of the discrimination women face and that she sets out.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 04:27:29 AM EST
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If she's in the business of defining what others can or cannot voice an opinion on, I don't have to take her seriously.

Of course, nobody has to take me seriously either.

Then we can just all stand in our corner talking to ourselves until we're blue in the face.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 04:30:18 AM EST
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It's of no interest whether you take her seriously or not. I am saying that you are reducing discrimination against women to a sneer when you write "a grievance you have with third persons".

But since you appear to stand by it, that's cool.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 04:33:08 AM EST
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I am actually not defining what Colman can and can't say and was hoping it wouldn't be taken that way - it isn't MY opinion but the general attitude of society that I'm referencing there.

I was making the point that the inequality goes both ways.  Because of assigned gender roles, I as a woman am given a particular place in society, just as Colman as a man is given one. Whilst Colman is ascribed an identity that constructs his 'masculinity' and with that an assumption that he can't possibly have an opinion on childbirth, I am ascribed an identity that constructs my 'femininity' and within that a level of authority on matters pertaining to child rearing, even though I've never had a child of my own. But associated with my 'femininity' still, is an assumption that as someone who is 'naturally' inclined to a caring role my instincts will of course better place me for raising a family than doing a demanding job that a man would be better at.

Colman chose a fairly provocative way of setting out this diary, I chose a provocative way of responding to one of his points within it. In reality, all gender roles aside, Colman is proving to be an excellent father to his child and of course has much more right to voicing his opinion on such matters than I do because he has that experience and I don't. I hope I've clarified myself.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 05:09:25 AM EST
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That's better - it did look as if you were deciding who could have an opinion and who couldn't.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 05:37:34 AM EST
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I should have made my snark more obvious.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 05:52:48 AM EST
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We need more of this kind of policy - and for it to be taken further.

Commenting on Government proposals announced today (Thursday) to make the second six months of maternity leave transferrable between parents, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

'These proposals will help millions of people balance their work and family life. As both parents work in most modern families, it's right that mums and dads should decide who looks after their baby, rather than the state deciding for them by only paying the mother for parental leave.

'Business lobby groups have opposed every new family-friendly right, from flexible working to extended maternity pay. But in reality these changes have hugely benefitted millions of families and have had no damaging effect on businesses.'


by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 06:48:30 AM EST
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And for employers to implement good practice and reduce stigma experienced by men who want to share childcare more equally.

See TUC guide to family friendly working

TUC Press release

However, while millions of workers and their families have benefitted from the growth of flexible working, the guide warns that poorly managed workplaces can do harm more than good, often leading to long and unsocial hours.

The guide explains the various legal entitlements to paid and unpaid time off, as well as the right to request flexible working. Unions are often able to negotiate policies that go well beyond the legal minimum, with some of the most effective policies open to all staff and not just parents, the guide says.

The TUC says that many employers still base family friendly working practices on traditional notions of family. This is likely to exclude many workers such as fathers and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, who also have rights as parents and carers, the guide says.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Unions have led the way in the long battle for more family friendly rights and it's now one of the main issues that members ask their union rep for guidance on.

'As fewer parents and carers fit the stereotypical model of the breadwinner husband with part-time working wife, it's important for union reps to be fully informed on everyone's legal entitlements.

'Our new guide should help union reps negotiate better family friendly working practices. After all, as the examples in our guide show, good policies can benefit both staff and employers alike.'

These kind of developments if pushed with good leadership will have eventual influence in shifting attitudes and breaking down gender roles.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 06:58:20 AM EST
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How old is that historical context?  Most women have always worked and contributed economically to the upkeep of the family, except for about 15 minutes in the middle of the 20th C after WWII. What women have done has changed from era to era and place to place, but the idea that all they did was childrear, clean and cook (as opposed to primary food preparation like making cheese and butter) is an anomaly as far as I can tell.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 08:05:38 AM EST
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Late 1800s and onwards. It may be an anomaly in the grand scheme of things but the narratives have proved hard to shift and reconstruct.  Ditto the construction of childhood which arguably is a Victorian invention.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 29th, 2010 at 08:21:46 AM EST
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