50 years ago, this was FORBIDDEN

Today, July 1st 2008, is 50 years since the law of equality between men and women was passed in Germany. This is a very big deal for me, since I find such issues immensely important and since I live in this country. Just imagine – 50 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to pick my own job. My hubby would have had to sign the work contract for me. I wouldn’t even be allowed to manage my own money. I wouldn’t have my own money. And I would have been considered an old maid, 23 and not even married. For shame.

I can’t believe the progress we have made since then, these huge changes in just two generations. That means on one hand, some have trouble catching up on these ideas (woman! where’s my supper?!) and on the other, we are already taking many things for granted (I’m walking around on the street – alone! I can go shopping! I can make decisions!!). I am very grateful for the battles that were fought in the past and the long way women and men have come.

Non the less, there are still unresolved issues. We can’t just sit back and think that all is done. For instance, now that we are allowed to work as what we please (theoretically) there is the problem of combining that with a family. Do the parents make enough money? Who takes care of the kids? What about the household? I for one am more of the career-type women. Mainly because I am interested in what I do, would like to earn a living off of it and have never had the instinct of wanting to raise a child. Much less give birth to one (it scares me).

But what I can not support is the idea of some other feminist women who degrade housewives. Just because we can chose to work does not mean the work at home is worthless. On the contrary, it is I believe much harder. It’s a 24/7 job with no pay and a contract over 18 years minimum. Some people think the idea of mothers recieving salarys from the state is absurd. But wouldn’t that be fair? And what about men taking over the household role? Is that so bad?

As for the issue of underpaid working women, it is often said that that is because women chose jobs with lesser pay. Social work instead of technical. But is it right that the work with people is payed less than the work with machines? Regardless of gender! And sure there are more women in part-time jobs, but that’s linked to the whole family problem again. Why be against more nurseries? Only in Germany have I heard those mothers being insulted, saying that wouldn’t be raising children “the right way”. Besides that, job sharing is actually not a losing situation for the company, either. Just ask my slides from the economic psychology lecture I have been learning.

This is a very big topic, and I could go on about it for days, so let me point out some lecture that proves some points:

  1. Süddeutsche Zeitung – Gleichberechtigung:
  • Von Gleichberechtigung kann in Deutschland keine Rede sein. Wer das Gegenteil behauptet, geht den Männern auf den Leim:

Kann es daran liegen? Frauen unter dreißig sind überzeugt, dass ihnen neben vielem anderen auch eine große Karriere offen stünde – vorausgesetzt, sie wollten. Frauen über dreißig klingen sehr viel resignierter.

  • Wer das Gegenteil behauptet, vergisst, dass der Wind sich gedreht hat.

Stark in Richtung Konservativismus. Und wie immer, wenn die Zeiten schlechter werden, erleben einfache Antworten eine Renaissance: Männer sind die Ernährer. Und Frauen Mütter, die zu Hause bleiben sollen.

  • Wer das Gegenteil behauptet, der vergisst, dass Mütter in der Ideologiefalle sitzen.

Sybille Hartmann, die 1994 als eine der Ersten einen Teilzeitjob im Management des Lebensmittelskonzerns Unilever durchgesetzt hat, sagte der Zeit: »Ich kann es nicht mehr hören, wenn beklagt wird, dass so wenig Frauen im Management sind. Es muss heißen: wieder kein Mann in Elternzeit.«

  • Wer das Gegenteil behauptet, vergisst, dass Frauen der Stallgeruch fehlt.

Männliche Eliten wollen habituelle Ähnlichkeit, sie suchen also wiederum männliche Eliten. Und Frauen passen nun mal nicht in dieses Muster.

  • Wer das Gegenteil behauptet, vergisst, dass Frauen die Preise verderben.

Je abstrakter, je technischer, desto teurer wird Arbeit bezahlt. In diese Nischen ziehen sich die Männer zurück. Männer forschen, Frauen behandeln die Patienten, Männer werden Chirurgen, Frauen heilen.

  2.  Familienministerin Frau von der Leyen im Interview:

Gleichberechtigung ist für mich dann erreicht, wenn Männer nicht mehr als Weicheier beschimpft werden, wenn sie sich um ihr Baby kümmern oder um den gebrechlichen Vater. Männer können mehr sein als der Geldbeschaffer, der jeden Abend bis um acht im Büro sitzt.

Even though it’s long, I really recommend to read the whole thing. There are good ideas and well made points, even though they’re not from the most intellectual of news sources. And if you don’t feel like reading, watch the episode of “Hart aber Fair” about this law on the german channel ARD / WDR. It was a very interesting debate, with views from all sides, lively debates, clips of old commercials, etc. And if none of those options tickle your fancy, then just come up to me and start this topic. I’ll always have something to say about it. So men and women: support your partners in equality and let us move forward!

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