Generally, by people’s own accounts, the public idea of women at home is that they are dull and boring. And the stereotype of a working woman is of hard, ambitious, selfish creatures. It is not just that you are either gentle and dull or selfish and interesting. It is that you are either a good mother or you are an interesting woman.
‘Young women now seem to get a very clear picture that they have got a choice. If they are going to do mothering 5 well, they have got to play for it by not being interesting women. If you are an interesting working woman, you are a bad mother.’ Lyn Richards put the blame for such notions and for resulting family tensions on the failure of people to talk enough about them. The media, too, are guilty. ‘There is a lot of media coverage of successful career women and still a lot, especially in women’s magazines, on ■the joys of motherhood. TJiere’s not that much about the trouble of cither role and precious little about combining the roles. Yet half the women who are married in our society are working.’
10 Nor is much thought given, to the task of loosening the ties entrapping men. Lyn Richards, a working mother, grateful for the privilege of genuinely choosing and being able to afford the role, criticizes the systematic exclusion of men from ‘child rearing and the really pretty fabulous aspects of having children’. She condemns as ludicrous the idea of the 9 to 5 treadmill of work as an absolute duty for men. ‘The sheer irony to me is that the women’s movement has told women the way to be liberated is to get into the 9 to 5 tied work force that men have been fighting against for a century. Really 15 we should be using changes in women’s values to shake up all the oppression and rigidity that men have been under.’
Indeed, there has been a change. ‘The new thing since I married is that it’s normal for both husband and wife to go on working when they marry. Now marriage isn’t a particularly big deal. Very often it just legalizes something which has been going on anyway and it certainly doesn’t change a woman’s whole basis of life, her notion of who she is. The real life change is having the first child and when that happens I think that probably most couples are still reverting to 20 something like the traditional concept of marriage. But the longer people put off having a child the more likely it is that they won’t because they have set up a viable life style. They don’t need to have kids now to have a good marriage.’ Not that motherhood and raising families are wholly going out of fashion but rather that people are having smaller families. Consequently, the period in a woman’s life when she is not required to devote herself to mothering is lengthening. ‘Motherhood—the mother role—just isn’t a very good identity base today, ’ Lyn Richards say. ‘Motherhood 25 is a short-term appointment now. It doesn’t last long.’
if lyn is correct, in the future women in families of younger generation.........