Culture

Columnist: It Should Be Illegal to Be a Stay-at-Home-Mom with School-age Kids

(Photo: Jonathan Ross/Dreamstime)
Yes — she is seriously suggesting this.

A columnist for the Daily Telegraph wrote a piece actually suggesting that Australia make it illegal to be a stay-at-home parent once your kids are old enough to go to school.

“Rather than wail about the supposed liberation in a woman’s right to choose to shun paid employment, we should make it a legal requirement that all parents of children of school-age or older are gainfully employed,” Sarrah Le Marquand writes in a column titled “It should be illegal to be a stay-at-home mum.”

“Only when the female half of the population is expected to hold down a job and earn money to pay the bills in the same way that men are routinely expected to do will we see things change for the better for either gender,” she writes.  

“Only when the tiresome and completely unfounded claim that ‘feminism is about choice’ is dead and buried (it’s not about choice, it’s about equality) will we consign restrictive gender stereotypes to history,” she writes.

According to Marquand, allowing women to stay home and raise their kids is bad for the economy (and is worsened by what she calls a “double standard” regarding welfare benefits in favor of stay-at-home moms resulting from “the the unfair tax concessions enjoyed by one-income households”). Mothers being able to stay home is “not doing anyone any favours,” she says. ”Not children, not fathers, not bosses — and certainly not women.”

So, in other words: Letting women who want to stay home and raise their kids is harmful to the women who want to stay home and raise their kids. Okay, got it. Oh wait, no I don’t, because that is the dumbest load of garbage that I have ever heard in my entire life.

I mean, what exactly would Marquand like to see done to the women who tried to defy this policy? Fine them? Imprison them? If they won’t be away from their families by going to work, then they will just have to be away from their families by going to prison!  

Although I myself am currently a single, career-focused woman, I recognize that my choice isn’t going to be the right one for everyone. Many women choose to stay home, and many choose to stay at home even when their kids get to school-age because they have found that there are things that they can do to support their families that they could not do if they were working. In fact, some moms even stay home to homeschool, because they have found that their school-aged children have different learning styles and/or certain extracurricular interests that they could not pursue on a traditional public-school schedule. It’s a wonderful option for a lot of people, and it would cease to be an option if an idea like Marquand’s were ever to become a reality.

Now, Marquand tried to support her position by claiming that stay-at-home-moms have an unfair advantage when it comes to things like welfare assistance and tax breaks. Whether this true or not, it still doesn’t justify her argument. She is, after all, not calling for her rule to apply only in these situations, nor is she calling for it to apply only for these reasons. She’s saying that all people should be forced to go to work, even if they do have the financial means to survive as a single-income family without any government assistance, and even if they did not have any kind of tax breaks, because that is the only way for workforce participation to be “equal.”

But here’s the thing: When it comes to workforce participation, men and women are already equal in the sense that they both get the exact same right to choose whether they will participate or not.  

Marquand insists that the people who believe “feminism is about choice” are wrong, but she believes that feminism is about forcing women to do things that they do not want to do — and it should be obvious to anyone with a brain that that backwards interpretation is about as blatantly wrong as it gets.

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