Thursday, December 6, 2012

Would you ask me that if I was a man?

Kia ora blog followers! I know it has been an insanely long time since I wrote, but big changes have occurred. For one, I am now a PA! I decided to hang up my caregiving crocs (shudder!) and venture forth into the world of Personal Administration and high heeled shoes. I have just started a new job in the past two months at an amazing organisation (which will remain anonymous, but trust me, it is amazing!). With a new job, comes new people and obviously, with new people, comes new attitudes. People generally want to get to know the new person, especially if they are going to have to work closely with them. So the questions began. At first it was just the usual questions, where do you live, are you married (usually by single guys in the office wanting to know if I was an option haha), do you have any kids etc. When I gave my replies, I got some interesting looks and then some interesting questions followed. I thought I would share them with you and get your feedback. Can I ask though, that when you read the questions, you forget that I am a woman and imagine that I am a man and see if this changes your perspective on the questions being asked. DISCLAIMER: I think the people I work with are awesome. They are intelligent people who I am convinced did not have any intention of offending me with their questions. They just wanted to get to know me and my apparently unusual arrangement of my husband staying home with our kids. I have discussed the questions with them and the fact I was going to blog about this and they are in full support of this discussion. Question One: Who looks after your kids when you are at work? What I answered: My husband who largely works from home, however my eldest child is at school and my youngest is at kindy three days a week so they aren’t home that much when I am at work. What I wanted to answer: Well I just lock them in a cupboard with the iPad and some crackers and put a pit bull outside the cupboard to prevent escape. Question Two: But don’t you miss your kids? What I answered: I miss my kids heaps, especially when I miss events at school or kindy or when they are sick but I work so when film work comes up, my husband (the filmmaker) can work on that project without taking leave from a fulltime job. What I wanted to answer: Of course I miss my kids! But I think I would miss them more if Uncle CYFS took them away because I couldn’t feed, house or clothe them. Question Three: But does your husband actually do housework? What I answered: Yes, wait until you see the lunch he cooked for me today. I may give you some What I wanted to answer: What is this, the 50’s? Of course he can do housework! He wasn’t raised by wolves, he was raised by competent parents who taught him to clean up after himself. I am away from home about 63 hours a week for work. If he didn’t do it, then we would all starve or die from diseases brought on by living in filth. Question Four: Don’t you get exhausted by working a 40 hour a week job instead of just being home with your children? What I answered: Trust me, working a 40 hour a week job is nothing compared to staying home with my kids. I’ll bring them to the office one day so you can meet my energetic little ones. They are a hoot (thinking in my head ‘my kids would destroy this office within 30 seconds, I am never bringing them here). What I wanted to answer: Are you freaking serious?! Do you know what stay at home parents DO?! They work way harder than us. We complain if we don’t get our 1 hour lunch break without an interruption. They have kids asking them stuff ALL THE TIME. Stay at home parents are lucky if they get to EAT lunch. Trust me, I get the better deal in the work department. Question Five: But what are you going to do when you want more kids (It was assumed I would want more than two)? Will you just take ALL that maternity leave? What I answered: Our family is complete so that isn’t even an issue for us. What I wanted to answer: I physically can’t have any more children. But even if I could, are you really going to begrudge me 6 weeks paid PARENTAL (because it’s for dads too!) leave? Are we that mean in this country that 6 weeks is too long to be home with a newborn child? I know people that have taken leave longer than that for an overseas holiday. But yet, we can’t spare a parent for this time to be with their newborn?! SERIOUSLY??????? To reiterate, I have nothing against my co-workers for asking these questions because I would rather know what is going on in their heads about me than them not asking. But the question remains, would you ask me that if I was a man? Oh and an interesting point to make, all of these questions have been asked by both men and women, people with and without children. When I asked the question if they would ask me that if I was a man, they said, with looks of horror at the realisation taking over them, ‘Good Lord, I wouldn’t even think to ask a man those questions!’. What triggers us to ask only mothers these questions? Do we assume as a society that only women miss their kids while they are away working? Do working women still do far more than their share of housework? Is there an expectation that only women should stay home with their kids if one parent is able to stay home? As New Zealanders, we like to assume that we are an equal opportunities country, where all families and the way they operate is accepted with open arms. Clearly this isn’t true in a number of areas (which I will be blogging about at a later date), but I thought we had moved on as a country from thinking it was weird that a woman would work while a man was at home with the children. The main reason for this blog is to trigger discussion (along with the usual reason of needing to get it out of my head and onto a laptop). Do you think people would ask these questions if I was a man? Do you think New Zealand needs to move away from the idea that only women can stay home with children? Have you been asked any questions you think wouldn’t have been asked if you were another gender? Tell me what you think!