A President Who Mandates Balance: Never Gonna Happen

So, this article, “Presidential Candidates Ignore Working Mothers,” says some things I agree with, like “the person who gets my vote will not relegate topics such as family leave, flexible work schedules and affordable childcare to the political back burner called ‘women’s issues.'”

Yes. If there were a candidate who didn’t do that, I would be quite happy.

In fact, I think anyone who stops calling anything having to do with families and children “women’s issues” is going to get a big kiss from me, right off the bat.

But I’m cynical. I don’t think we’re going to get a presidential candidate, female or not, who has the energy – let alone the desire – to help us all get flex time and cheap daycare when there’s issues like Iraq and global warming to be managed.

Yet, the personal is political – and the political is made up of the personal. Everything ties into everything else. Our culture as a whole is schizophrenic with regards to how we think of people in general.

Like, I was waiting for my lunch to heat up in the microwave at work today, and I was stretching around in the ‘kitchen area’ while waiting… and I knew, as I did this, that it was possible that I could get in trouble for not behaving ‘professionally’ in the workplace. Of course, anyone with a little humanity would forgive me a little stretching – and not just because I’m almost six months’ pregnant.

But we don’t think of ourselves as human beings with bodies and emotions that need attention. Our idea of proper adult behavior, both in and sometimes out of the office, are all about slicing off everything but our very censored mental skills. It’s capitalism, and we’re the cogs in the machine.

Yes, some companies are more generous than others. And the two women who caught me stretching by the microwave were kind and not punitive. But at the base of it, our culture sees us first as expendable workers, second as valuable human lives.

And so, issues like work/life balance and childcare aren’t going to matter until it starts to hurt companies in the only part of them that can hurt – the part where the money comes in. And how that’s going to happen… well, it’s not going to be by presidential decree, unfortunately.

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