OK, I realise this subject came up on 4 July – but it’s school
holidays and I’m behind in my Crikey reading. The kids, the housework, the part-time
job, caring for extended family and so on and so on. I feel very
strongly about this one and have recently shed more than a few tears
about employment prospects, status, and being a role model for my
daughter (watch this darling and don’t do it!)

I think women’s current predicament is a combination of politics, media
and a nervous male cohort in general
society. A good proportion of women are interested in family and community – there is probably little place for this in a
consumerist society predominantly interested in productivity. We’re
just not cutting it in the the real world and besides that we are so
busy taking care of all the details of children, family and
community – there is little time to have a voice, and play the politics
needed to make a greater impact.

Time is running out on the DVD the kids are watching, so I’ll
quickly cut and paste an extract from an email I sent to my husband in
reference to a piece on the new industrial relations reforms. This is a
hot topic in our house at present – and I believe these reforms signal a
further setback for women. Please note this is an email to a
family member – I am reduced to spiky diatribes thankfully received with
good humour.

All I can say is thank goodness for Crikey… at least I get to read
some interesting journalism and commentary and the gossip is good too.

I reckon Howard’s version of productivity is something he and Janette
thought up over a nice cup of tea. It really makes no sense. If he
wants us to be more productive and create more jobs then other things
could have taken their place… take for example the underemployed (as
opposed to the unemployed). We’re all sitting here waiting for flexible
work conditions, good child care, understanding bosses, partners with
understanding bosses. I have six years of tertiary education, a really
solid work record, reasonably good skills and little chance of finding
work in the next few years. Why? Because policy doesn’t help me – I’m
at the wrong end of the workforce; I’m paid less than I was when I left
the full-time workforce 15 years ago, I don’t really contribute financially
to the household nor do I contribute much to the overall big picture. I
remember listening to the first Coalition budget thinking
(incredulously) that we had taken a giant step back to the fifties. I
can’t even remember the detail – I just knew the writing was on the wall. I wasn’t
wrong. Have I got the sh*ts? You betcha! Can I do anything about
it? Hmm, hand over the valium – I’m ready.

Peter Fray

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