Feminism is much more pro-family than 'traditional society'. The problem is that nobody has bothered to listened.
Oliver James on the Times this morning rightly identifies the benefits of flexible working practices. However, he fails to understand feminism entirely. Feminists have been campaigning for flexible working and ‘fatherhood’ for over twenty years. Whilst James would like to see “men becoming much more involved in caring for their small children”, he assigns the main responsibility of childrearing to the mother. There is no rational basis for this except a prescriptive differentiation of roles that has excluded women from society for millennia. It is not based on biology. Breastfeeding (as recommended by the latest medical research)should last up to 6 months, childrearing lasts for many years. This division of labour has discriminated women and put many in a situation where they must decide between a family and work.
Recent research has shown that women returning to work after starting a family are around 40% less likely than the average white, able-bodied man to be offered a post. As I argued on this blog and in my letter to the FT The industry’s reluctance to embrace the work/life balance agenda is myopic and ultimately counterproductive. Flexible working arrangements have been shown in several studies to reduce dramatically sickness absences (26%), increase savings (£5-6m for BT) and innovative thinking. If both parents worked flexibly,they would spend more time with their children and thus give them better care. However, as long as men and society at large see flexible working as a woman’s issue that comes with her ‘role’ as a mother, it will remain the second-class form of working that traps women into poverty and jobs for which they are overqualified. It is feminism that is promoting a family where children have finally both parents and the nation is not deprived of talented workers. The rest is nonsense! (and has forced me to create a new label!)