So yeah, the thing I’ve been saying I would write about. An annoying, yet unavoidable and ubiquitous problem. Especially because everyone’s all wringing their hands about Germany’s falling fertility rates. Well, duh. But then there was an article in Time (the European version), and then Landismom mentioned it, and thus I was reminded of the irksome thing I’d been taking for granted.
The Situation With Women is just part of the daily reality around here, and we all accept it because we have no choice: we have kids, therefore we don’t have jobs, aside from selling Avon or Tupperware or something, and this is true throughout Germany. It’s not just the second-shift situation that so many American women face, where they have to work so much harder than men. There is so much prejudice here that we don’t even have the opportunity to work harder. Employers aren’t willing to work around mothers’ schedules, which are impossible anyway. Aside from the vast number of arbitrary holidays, kids get out of school at 11 in first grade, at 1 in fifth grade, and they can’t legally be home alone until they’re 12. That’s right. You have a kid, you are basically banned from working for twelve. Years.
Companies have to provide maternity benefits for female employees. They don’t have to hire women, though, and many choose not to for just that reason. This is legal here. Many aren’t even willing to hire childless women because who knows? She might get pregnant.
And this is what really bugs me, and what isn’t being said aloud. Women in Germany, much more than in the States, have to choose between motherhood and a career, yes. But very often that choice is not even in our hands. To choose motherhood, you have to find a man who is willing to support you and some kids. To choose a career, you have to find someone (usually a man) who is willing to hire you. There are fewer and fewer of both kinds of men around, so even women who want to play that game are caught in a double-bind.
So now a government study (referenced here) has come out that says German women are lazy. Apparently we spend less time doing housework than any other women in Europe. Oh cool, that’s just what we needed, a rousing game of blame-the-victim.
Yeah, we don’t do a lot of housework. We spend a lot of time on leisure activities because we’re just killing time. We could be working at job-jobs, you know, outside the house. We’re just waiting for someone to give us a chance.
… crickets chirping …