Daily Archives: 3 May 2006

see? I read my comments!

Hm, ~d wants to know why we live here. Hm. In concrete terms it would be because when DrBob finished his Ph.D and we had a new baby and he really, really needed a job, he found it here. His family is also here, and we wanted the kids to know their grandparents and extended family and to have a concept of ‘family’ that’s bigger than just the people in one household.

In more general terms, though, I like it here because it’s kind of … more even. Nobody gets to be Paris Hilton here, but nobody gets to be that homeless veteran who panhandles in the subway station either. Some people have more money than others, but the difference that makes is in your comfort level, not your survival. When you’re poor here, it means you don’t get to go on vacations or drive a nice car. Poor in America means trying to treat your son’s broken arm yourself because you don’t have health insurance and can’t afford the emergency room fees. Not only do I not want to be in that situation, I don’t have a lot of respect for a culture that thinks it’s okay for other people to be there. There are some really great things about the U.S., things I miss a whole lot, but um, that is not one of them.

So what this even-ness means for women in the workplace is that we are all in more or less the same boat, and when a solution is found, we will all be able to make use of it – not just the rich and privileged women. There are a lot more options for childcare in the States right now, but the good ones are only for people who can afford them, and I don’t think that’s fair. And I don’t like injustice, even when I benefit from it, which is most of the time.

Did you see Landismom’s comment on the 20-hour work week? Man, that is the best idea I’ve heard in a long time.

Also, I survived another ESL class tonight. I might actually learn not to dread them so, if I can get some lesson-planning fu.

Song du jour of the day? Apropos of nothing, I’ve just been listening to it recently, The Neville Brothers: A Change is Gonna Come.

more about it

That was actually just a snapshot, because I didn’t want to go on and on and on, but the list of laws, traditions, and attitudes that keep women “in their place” here is very, very long.

Questions from cmhl:

what is the rationale behind having the kids get out of school at different times? it seems that that would be a logistical nightmare for the parents!

It is. It’s not just different times at different ages, either. In first grade, Ignatz got out at 11:15 except on Fridays, when he got out at 12:15. In second grade, he had two long days and three short. They work up to the 1:00 gradually, and actually, for the first half of this year, he had to go back to school on Mondays from 2:30-4. For art class. The rationale is that Mama’s home anyway, all the time, so why would it matter when the kids get home?

do they have after-school care, if there IS a working mother?

There’s something called Hort that one single mom I know used in Munich. I think you have to pay for it, though, and as far as I know, it’s not available in my town. The other single mom I know simply didn’t work until she found another husband. Uh. Actually, “simply” is not the word I want there.

Not everyone is stuck. There are those one or two exceptions that make people say “See? It’s not impossible.” It’s like the Condoleezza Rice thing, oo, look how well Republicans treat Black women! Um, no, just that one.

I do know a mom who works as a translator – from home. And I work. Sort of. I teach one English class a week, that nets me €20 if everybody shows up. I used to be a webmaster, and I did that from home. DrBob hustled that job for me, there’s no way they would have hired me if he hadn’t nagged them for a year. I work one day a week in Munich, but I only got the job because a friend of DrBob’s needed something very specific, and he knew I was qualified because he’s known me for ten years. Even so, I couldn’t do it without the free unlimited babysitting from the World’s Greatest Mother-in-Law. So yeah, some women find ways around the restrictions, but only if we’re massively lucky, which I am. And the work I do has earned me pin-money, and kept me with one foot in the labor market (just try finding a job with a 12-year hole in your resumé), but it doesn’t add up to a job-job.

I’m looking for a job-job, but those are mostly in Munich. If we move to Munich, we’re too far from the mother-in-law, so I could only work part-time. If I only work part-time, we can’t afford to live in Munich.

On the other hand. No, not the other hand where it’s okay to treat women so shabbily, there’s never any excuse for that. I mean the hand that considers the kids. I went to American schools, 8am to 3pm, and I remember hour after hour of pointless busy-work, soul-crushing boredom, social Darwinism on the playground… I’m not sure if all-day school is good for kids. However, not even a part-time job will accommodate a 3-hour school day. Some kind of attempt to find a middle ground would be so nice.

As I understand it, based on a women’s studies course I took for my Social Science degree, and reading the occasional newspaper article, the Swedish social model assumes that women want to work just like men, and makes that possible by providing lots and lots of daycare, so you never even have to see your kids awake, if you don’t want to. The French model, on the other hand, seems to assume that women want to stay home with their kids, so they basically pay them to do that. The German model appears to make a similar assumption, but addresses it by paying a working man enough to support a housewife and a few kids, which of course falls apart as soon as you put a deadbeat dad in the equation. It’s also falling apart on a national scale now, as companies battle for the right to freeze wages, fire workers at will, move operations to more “business-friendly” countries, cut job benefits and refuse to hire people with families.

And the German government is trying like hell to become more business-friendly, while whining about why aren’t people having kids and how can we get them to have more kids while taking away their job security and health insurance and blah de blah. Like I said in the last post: DUH!