Feminist Writer Says Being a Stay-at-Home Mom Should Be Illegal

International Women's Day in Madrid streets, on March 8, 2017. (Photo by Jesús Calonge/Pacific Press) (Sipa via AP Images)

Many feminists claim that all they want is equality — for the sexes to be treated the same. Meanwhile, critics such as myself argue that what feminists say and what they do don’t line up particularly well.

For example, they claim to want equal representation and pay in the workplace, but then focus only on white-collar careers. They ignore that women choosing to avoid careers like shipping or construction causes most of the gender discrepancy — and they never protest that those fields are male-dominated.

The reality is that feminism isn’t really about equal opportunity for women — which few in the West oppose anymore — but is just another strain of authoritarianism.

As an example, take this Australian columnist who wants to outlaw being a stay-at-home mom following a report lamenting the lack of women participating in the Australian workforce:

Rather than wail about the supposed liberation in a woman’s right to choose to shun paid employment, we should make it a legal requirement that all parents of children of school-age or older are gainfully employed.

The OECD was right to criticize the double standards applied to Australia’s work-search rules regarding welfare benefits. While young people face strict criteria when seeking to access the dole, those aged over 50 can still receive it despite not looking for a job by citing 15 hours volunteer work a week.

The double standards are even greater for stay-at-home mums, with governments of all persuasions traditionally wary to tackle the unfair tax concessions enjoyed by one-income households for fear of inciting voting fury. (No doubt they refer to Abbott’s aforementioned paid parental leave scheme as a cautionary tale).

But it’s time for a serious rethink of this kid-glove approach to women of child-bearing and child-rearing age. Holding us less accountable when it comes to our employment responsibilities is not doing anyone any favours. Not children, not fathers, not bosses — and certainly not women.

Only when the female half of the population is expected to hold down a job and earn money to pay the bills in the same way that men are routinely expected to do will we see things change for the better for either gender.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Columnist Sarrah Le Marquand’s argument that all parents should work would do wonders to end Australia’s welfare system. If everyone who could work did, then only those who are unable to work would be part of that system.

Few begrudge a welfare system that only takes care of those who are unable to work.

But that’s not what Le Marquand wants.

The premise of her piece is that women aren’t working — and nothing else. An apparently large number of women have opted out of the workforce in order to hold down the fort at home, and that bothers her. People made a decision she disagrees with, so they must be forced to make the right decision.

Once upon a time, feminism was about women having the option to seek out employment. Both the law and society changed to accept this as a perfectly normal thing. Le Marquand wants the opposite of that — to send women back to when they couldn’t decide for themselves.

What happened to “my body, my decision”?