2 April 2012

Contraception and working women

What is Stephanie Pappas trying to say, in this bit about new research on an old topic - women and work? Too much left unspoken, not enough information on the study itself or on her own views, to make this anything but political manipulation on behalf of women's quest to have the pill paid for.

The longitudinal study undertaken by Martha Bailey and associates started in 1968 and continued throughout the 1990s, its participants having being born within a few years of the year I was (1946). Prior to the 60s, when no such pill was available, they suggest, women had to choose between either a career or marriage. Without the pill, they are suggesting, the risk of pregnancy was too great for women with partners to risk having a career.

But as time went on, the researchers claim, "With oral contraceptives, women no longer had to choose between investing in their careers and investing in a mate." As the pill became available in their area, more women would choose college and career as well as marriage.

I'm not sure about the logic behind these ideas, or how they relate to the experience of that cohort of women and this one today. When I read it, it seems to me that women researchers of today are interpreting the experience of twenty-year-olds in the 1960s according to their own model, instead of looking at it through the lens of society at the time. I'm not sure that many women back then looked at the world in terms of *choice,* a favourite word and key theme among liberal feminists and women in general today, but surely, not back then. Furthermore, the whole idea of the battle for 'the pill,' was one of women's right to use it, not as it has now become, the fight for the right to have someone else pay for it. "The pill’s availability likely altered norms and expectations about marriage and childbearing," Bailey has said. And work. And sex. There is a great deal that has been left unsaid, in the brief write-up here, and likely in the research itself, related to women's newfound personal freedom related to sexuality, both within and outside of marriage.

As discussed in the Comments section of this brief piece of news, there was something else going on at more or less the same time that the pill was being introduced into society (possibly through the efforts of radical feminists). Women in general were being encouraged to take their place alongside men in the workplace, in the quest for 'equality, as expounded by liberal feminists'. The influence of this latter ideology and women's movement was not mentioned in the article about women's wages and the pill, but it was a widespread effort by women, begun in the years after women in droves were sent back to the kitchen, so to speak, by men after they returned from the war in the early 40s. During the war, women had discovered how well they could do the work men did, in factories, farm fields, and many other areas that had traditionally been 'men's work,' and how much they enjoyed it, and enjoyed the independence and money. But after the war ended, they were no longer needed.

A second major factor of this subject of contraception and work is its connection to the debate about insurance coverage of contraception, for working women and college students, mainly (as I have seen in the news) and lastly, among women living in poverty. Many comments ensued from this awareness, on Comments online. I found it odd that some readers would suggest that if the insurance wouldn't pay for the pill for contraceptive purposes, that the working woman would stubbornly continue to have unprotected sex and risk pregnancy rather than pay for it out of her wages. This issue is not only a mattter of concern to women who are employed, and should be addressed as a concern for all women. Otherwise, some women will lose out, through inability to pay, and will be at risk.

The third major item in this piece is the news that, of the one-third increase in wages among women, two-thirds came from greater workplace experience, and more importantly for what I am to say next, one-third of the increase was a result of "women gaining more education and from choosing more lucrative, traditionally male, fields." In response to that, I can say that there is so much left out, so much more to discuss than how well women are doing at work. If women are taking the places that had traditionally been reserved for men, then what do you suppose all the men are doing, who are perfectly capable of doing the job?

If you haven't heard of the Occupy movement, then I suggest you open up your mind to what's going on in society. And if you are ready to seek solutions to the inquality brought about by feminism, then read my blog (see relevant entries below). Not only do we need to turn towards a society where there is more acceptance of one another's abilities, but within relationships also. Rather than the middle class, educated female joining forces with the middle class male she considers as being in her class (based on money and access to resources), forming what we now have a glut of - the dual-career, dual-income family - we need a variety of approaches to making up the workforce and the families within society. The problem is, it's the influential dual career couples who hold the power to make change, and who can at times seem to be the most reluctant to change.

Birth-Control Pill Helped Boost Women's Wages, New Study Shows 
By Stephanie Pappas
LiveScience Huffington Post
Mar 29, 2012

The Economic Impact of the Pill
By Annie Lowrey
NY Times
March 6, 2012

Feminism's legacy: contributing towards social inequality 
By Sue McPherson
Sue's Views on the News
5 February, 2012

Men at work: what does the future hold?
By Sue McPherson
Sue's Views on the News
March 18, 2012

The Occupy Movement: UWO's Klatt and Hammond, and other perspectives
By Sue McPherson
Sue's Views on the News
Dec 10, 2011

What Justin Bieber and Gold Diggers Can Teach Us About Feminism
By Sue McPherson

Sue's Views on the News
Nov 19, 2011

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