Having it all doesn’t mean Equality

In Around the World on October 12, 2010 at 8:43 pm


I started reading this interesting article in the New York times on French women and the amazing health care they receive after giving birth.  This enables them to heal faster, have better sex sooner and achieve pre-birth abs.  However, despite everything that’s going for them; despite seeming to have ‘it all’, they still don’t have equality.  This is the general observation I made while studying abroad in France.  Despite France’s liberal attitude, they’re not exactly tolerant – at all. 

In France, women are given an incentive – in monetary terms – to have at least 3 children.  Why? Because European countries are in dire need of birth rates to increase, as they drop into the negatives and no one’s getting younger.  What does this cause? Problems in the economy because there are too many old people to take care of.  Not to mention France is afraid of its ever-growing Roma and Muslim population…

According to Katrin Benhold, writer of this article:

France crystallizes the paradox facing many women across the developed world in the early 21st century: They have more say over their sexuality (in France birth control and abortion are legal and subsidized), they have overtaken men in education and are catching up in the labor market, but few make it to the top of business or politics.

According to the World Economic Forum‘s 2010 gender equality report, France ranks 46th, after the United States, most of Europe, Kazakhstan, and Jamaica.

Eighty-two percent of French women aged 25-49 work, many of them full-time, but 82 percent of parliamentary seats are occupied by men. French women earn 26 percent less than men but spend twice as much time on domestic tasks. They have the most babies in Europe, but are also the biggest consumers of anti-depressants.

Though the French love their strikes and are oh so proud of their ‘French revolution’, it seems one of the cornerstones of their republic – equality – hasn’t been completely realized.  Within society developed countries often tell us women: ‘go ahead, have a job, do what you like – you have the right – but can you do so while pleasing your husband, bearing children, cooking meals, looking beautiful? That’s not too much to ask is it?’  And often we females internalize this idea; attempting to plan our future around the matter-of-fact expectation that we’ll have a career, get married and then have to figure out whether or not we’ll give up certain liberties to become ‘stay at home’ mothers, or be viewed as lousy mothers for having nannies or sending our children to nurseries.  Maybe I’m crazy, but I thought parenting involved both parents. But I’m pretty sure guys hardly think about these ‘minor’ details because well, they expect to stay at work.  In one of my classes this guy, a senior, was talking about his plans for after graduation. He and his girlfriend are engaged but they’re not worrying about where it’s best for her job options because well, he’ll be the one working in the long run.  Compromise? What?


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