Funnily enough, I’m not all that surprised

at the results of this research (reported here). Here’s my version of the snippet that the ABC presented. [Strikethrough and bold = my edits].

Men doing chores reduces divorce risk: study

Divorce rates are lower in families in which husbands help out with the housework, shopping and child care, according to a study of 3,500 British couples.

The research by the London School of Economics, entitled Men’s Unpaid Work and Divorce, found that the more husbands helped out, the lower the incidence of divorce.

The study said its conclusions blew open the theory patriarchal myth running since (at least!) the 1960s that marriages were most stable when men focused on paid work and women were responsible for housework.

“The lowest-risk combination is one in which the mother does not work participate in the paid work-force and the father engages in the highest level of housework and child care,” the study found.

I just *love* how that last sentence typifies the way in which mother’s unpaid labour is constantly being rendered invisible. In reporting about a study entitled “Men’s Unpaid Work and Divorce” they can not make clear the distinction between women’s unpaid and paid work – rather only counting paid work as ‘work’ (wow, how special is men’s unpaid work – it gets counted and measured while women’s doesn’t even exist!), even when the results suggest that when men help out with the unpaid work it decreases a couple’s chance of divorce.

Of course, while revealing nothing all that surprising, the study itself continues to reinforce heternormality and the privilege accorded to marriage above other forms of relationship by its lack of investigation into any other form of long-term partnership.

Edited to Add: What is also entirely unsurprising is the fact that with the article ending – “The lowest-risk combination is one in which the mother does not work and the father engages in the highest level of housework and child care” the comments thread on the story was riddled with comments such as:

agnesal: So if mum gets to sit at home all day eating chocolates and dad goes to work then comes home and does the majority of the house work, mum will be happy and less likely to file for divorce. Now there’s a surprise.

JW: So the marriages where the women do the least and the men the most last the longest – sounds like these people need some lessons in shared responsibility. I’m guessing these guys are also the most henpecked.


Activism: Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009

Currently there is a senate inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009

From Australian Marriage Equality:

The Bill seeks to amend the federal Marriage Act so that same-sex partners are able to marry in Australia, and to recognise same-sex marriages legally entered into overseas.

The inquiry will be conducted by the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. No date has yet been set for a close of submissions, so we suggest you make your submission as soon as possible. The inquiry is due to report by 26 November 2009.

In 2004, an inquiry into the Howard Government’s ban on same-sex marriage received more submissions than any other Senate inquiry in history; 13,000 against same-sex marriage and 3000 in favour. Please join us in ensuring that the balance of submissions to the 2009 inquiry more accurately reflects majority community support for equality.

Anyone can make a submission, not just those in a same-sex relationship. It is also very important for our politicians to hear from family, friends, work colleagues and other supporters of our community.

Australian Marriage Equality have a niffy form set up so that you can send in a submission, and it is found here. I urge you to get political and support this important bill.  I wrote and sent in my submission before I had a poke around the the site which offers some great suggestions for what to submit. I had the following to say (my own words not bolded):

Dear Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee,

This is my submission to your inquiry into marriage equality. I fully endorse the submission made by Australian Marriage Equality in favour of the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009.

As our parliamentary representatives you are entrusted by us to act on the will of the people.  In light of polling which shows that a majority of Australians are pro marriage for same-sex couples I feel that it is wrong to withhold the privilege of marriage from any section of the community.  Particularly as the government now recognises and taxes as a couple same-sex partnerships, it seems to me to be churlish and bigoted to deny same-sex couples the status that is accorded wedded heterosexual unions.

Historically marriage was extremely patriarchal and based on an economic agreement between a groom and the bride’s father, the bride being exchanged between them like chattel.  Long gone are the days when women were considered to be the property of men.  Marriage used to have little to do with love and was undertaken for pragmatic reasons such as economic survival.  Marriage in (post)modernity is considered to be a union based on love, and the ideology supporting marriage has evolved from those unenlightened times when women were only valued for their reproductive capacities.  With the development of contraceptives, and changes in our socio-economic system, the production of progeny is no longer a defining characteristic of marriage.

Previously only men were given legal rights within marriage  – he represented the family, her rights were subsumed by his under the process of coverture.  Feminist agitation has removed most traces of coverture from marriage and men and women are now equal within marriage.  Both parties to the marriage have the right to vote and to represent the family economically.  Thus, the patriarchal family model, with the male who headed the household and represented it economically and legally, no longer exists.  There is now no longer any reason why the parties to marriage now have to be of a different gender.

As a married heterosexual women I do not believe that my relationship should be accorded status and privilege that is denied to other loving relationships on the basis of long gone past held beliefs and rejected ideology.

Can we talk about this (wage gap) civilly, please?

Apparently not, if the comments thread at the ABC is anything to go by.

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

The ABC carried a story today about the wage gap, entitled “Men ‘earn $1m more than women’ “.  From the story:

A new report shows Australian men earn $1 million more on average than women over their working lives.

But the AMP-NATSEM report has found women are making progress in the pay stakes.  Female workers in their 20s and early 30s now earn the same as their male peers.  But researcher Rebecca Cassells, from the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, says young women may struggle to maintain equal pay throughout their working lives.

“I think Generation Y’s achievement is something that’s fantastic and really shows how far women have come, but we also shouldn’t be complacent and think that’s going to be the case all the way through their careers,” she said.

For 37 years the concept of equal pay for equal work has been enshrined in law, but Ms Cassells says the reality is somewhat different.  “Women have progressed considerably over the past few decades and they have actually improved in their educational attainment and their presence in the labour force and their presence in professional occupations,” she said.  “However, despite this there are signs that there are significant gaps, particularly in lifetime earnings, the accumulation of wealth and employment.

Did news of this report start productive discussion of reasons why, when we look at lifetime earnings, women’s are so far behind that of men’s?  Did people offer any critique about superannuation being premised on the male/full time/unbroken employment model?   Was there earnest conversation about the possibility of sharing parental responsibilities so that both parents’ careers are equally compromised affected?  Was any concern shown about the reality that very few women will have the same amount of super accumulated as their male counterparts?  Or the fact that women are over-represented in low paying occupations and under-represented in the upper echelons of high paying occupations?  Any questioning of the assumption that the gap is acceptable because women are heterosexually partnered with men whose money they can depend upon?  Was there mature conjecture about the possibility of challenging the dominant work structure and overthrowing the corresponding economic paradigm?  Was there reasoned argument about the need for well paid parental leave?

No, there was not.

I leave you with a selection of the misogyny found in the comments thread:

Me:  The work done at home contributes nothing to the economy – that’s why it is unpaid work.
Or should I say with baby bonuses, both family tax benefits and single parenting allowance us taxpayers pay you handsomely to do your ‘unpaid’ work [me = not rayedish]

equality does not exist: My point is that men work harder in paid employment outside the home than women and so it should be no surprise to find that they receive more pay over their lives than women.

Men earn the money that women spend. Coffee shops and department stores are not full of men spending money in the daytime are they? – the blokes are too busy grinding themselves into an early grave while women potter about at home washing a few nappies in between daytime tv and whining that they dont get paid for doing it – the only reason women claim “home duties” is a type of work equal to demeaning tasks typically performed by men is because women have no real concept of what hard work actually is. Just because you had to get out of bed in the morning and clean up after yourself does not mean you ought to be paid a wage.

steven: If you and your partner choose to have children (and it does take two willing participants in 99.99% of cases), then you must expect that these tasks will fall upon the two of you. At least a woman has the choice of wether to have children or not, men dont have the same choice without effectively permanent surgery. Wether the man does it or the woman does it is up to the couple (breast milk can be expressed and stored for later). There are a whole lot of tasks involved and lifestyle implications that you are aware of before you join. If one part of the partnership feels the other is not pulling their weight, it is up to them to do something about it. It certainly isnt up to the government or anyone else to pay you for doing these things you were aware of. I am a single man who has to work and choose to have a house, should I be paid for having to look after the gardens, clean it and do all the other tasks?. If I choose to join a social club or a sport that has additional demands on my time should I be paid for that as well.

The Bunyip: As the great Homer Simpson once said, “money can be exchanged for goods and services”. That’s an EXCHANGE. You do something for me, you get some money. You do something for yourself or your own kids, you get nothing other than the intrinsic benefit. Oh wait, sorry, maybe that should be “you do something for yourself or your own kids and contribute nothing to the economy, you get more government benefits than you could poke an excessive middle-class welfare tax rebate at.”

Lord Haw-Haw: If only she had left the apple on the tree.

Eric: If only he had kept that damn rib. No tree, no snake, no apple just eternal paradise.

mark edwards: what nonsense. There is also a stat that says obese people earn less- should we increase pay rates if someone is obese?jobs are paid according to the skills/hours provided- not according to gender. Men in general work their whole life, and are highly driven as providers. Most women take time off for children. The above article is about baby boomers- not the current less than40 yrs olg generation. You should be happy that men are driven to be providers, rather than using this as a excuse to fly the paranoid feminist flag

there is not a different award for men and women re pay. In generazl men are still driven to work/be creative and provide a little more than woman- that explains the discrepancy. Men in general are the ones working the 60 hours, and out doing deals. Of the 100’s of books written about wealth creation, how many were written by women? Different drives and different skill set. Men need to create and provide for wife and family-its in our genes

jonno:  men die younger because they want too.Its there way of getting some peace.
People make their own choice in income. Im sure my income is less than a lot of women, but who cares.

clobs: There are only so many positions at the top of any business structure. “flexible work options so that they can job share or work part-time or work hours that suit them”, and then still take the top job over some poor bloke who is equally skilled but devoted ALL of his time with no flexibility throughout his career … then denied this position due to affirmative action.

Haz: My wife is happy that men earn more. She’s also happy with the statistic that women spend more… i think i’ve been jipped.

Tim: I am a male and I have 4 sisters which all earn more then myself and they find work within 1 week of looking. I have a degree but they only finished Yr 12. Women have it good in the work place.. Why is it when moving any thing heavy in the work place it always done mostly by males… while women sip on there coffee. If its equal then women should pull there own weight. If men have to move heavy objects around the office such as chairs/tables/ etc. Then women need to participate.

Foolsday: and there’s also PLENTY of men who lose out on jobs simply because of the whole “we have to be seen to employ such and such percentage of women, indigenous people and handicapped people etc etc.

Sercro: The reality is that it is hard to see women ever attaining the same lifetime earnings as men because they will, on average, take more time off during child rearing. Simple biology. Men and women are different, get over it.

sucker: That extra $1m I’ve earnt has all been spent on women!

The glass ceiling seems to be being nailed back into place

Found this story here.

Individual pay deals bad for women, inquiry told

Inquiry told women losing out under individual pay negotiations

A federal inquiry into pay rates has heard there is a widening gap in earnings for men and women who individually bargain over pay and job conditions.

Josh Healy, from the National Intitute of Labor Studies at Flinders University in Adelaide, says men in hospitality, retail, business and property services get better salaries than women in those fields.

He told the Federal Government’s Employment Committee the findings are based on a report for the Fair Pay Commission.

Mr Healy says women are better off under collective agreements.

“Women are, in fact, losing ground to men,” he said.

“I mean to the extent that we’re interested in achieving pay equity this is obviously a disappointing trend.

“All of the deterioration that’s occurred in the gap between men and women has actually been taking place in the individual agreement sector.”

Sorry about the cut and paste jobs lately. I will try to be a better blogger, honest.