June 23: Mixed messages on ‘women’s work’ are creating a crisis

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From: Edward Grainger, Botany Way, Nunthorpe.

RECENTLY you had two separate references to areas where men are seen as absent from the care of children and young people within the early years of education and childcare systems and from the care of the sick and elderly in their homes (The Yorkshire Post, June 16).

The “crisis” in the homecare sector is in my view a crisis that was waiting to happen as society asks more and more women in the workplace to do more and more. I know two households, one being my married daughter’s where she is, like that of her female best friend who is also a mother, literally “run ragged” with so many commitments trying to hold down a full-time job, look after the home, husband and children.

The situation is of course so much worse for single mothers with similar commitments, who are often made to feel inferior by successive governments attempting to persuade them to go out to work, despite their primary role of looking after children, often below school age (The Yorkshire Post, June 19).

The male-free zone in early years education referred to by Grace Hammond will always exist so long as men are marginalised and made to feel that working with young children is not for them due to a variety of reasons, in particular, low pay and a slur on their masculinity.

The same goes for the male- free zone in homecare which must be corrected and quickly, for Britain’s ageing population is here to stay and the sooner the new government realises that, the better. In the same edition of The Yorkshire Post Rod Stewart’s wife Penny Lancaster is reported to have said on nationwide television that men “cooking and putting the apron on, belittles men and takes away their masculinity”. That from a woman who can afford to employ cooks.

So all of these mixed messages merely confirm just what a complicated issue all of this is, not helped by some more traditional thoughts handed down from one generation of men to another that looking after children’s health, welfare and education is women’s work and that in the home the basic daily “chores” are women’s also.

No wonder we, increasingly as a society are building social problems and problems in family relationships and within the workplace for the nation’s women. Often what limited salaries and wages are earned by them goes towards all the technology that is part of our modern world, where flat screen televisions in every room are considered a necessity along with computers, ‘pads and pods’ and phones.