Monday, January 26, 2009

Yep - still talking about Dati

Rachida Dati resigned her job as France's Justice Minister. She's going to pursue a place in the European Parliament as an MEP.

Her departure is all too reminiscent of the times I've seen one colleague and one boss lose their jobs shortly after returning from maternity leave.

Coincidence? Maybe they didn't lose their jobs because of being mothers, but it probably hadn't helped to be so ... noticeable.... feminine... or in Dati's case, to have an 'abrasive management style'. What a loaded expression that is.

However, I raise the topic of Dati again because I read a Hadley Freeman article today in the Guardian where she suggested that women should stop 'looking at other women in a purely narcissistic, deeply emotional manner'.

Apparently, 'only women' publicly express the view that 'women have to work harder in all areas of life and that so it's only natural that what other women do impacts on the expectations of other women'. I can't believe 'only women' have this view. Even if men aren't talking about it, this doesn't mean women are mistaken in holding this belief.

Before I go on - I need to let off steam in the manner of a pre-menstrual woman who just found an empty milk bottle in the fridge. It irks me to be told that any criticism of Dati's maternity leave decisions are inevitably expressed in a deeply emotional manner. Does anyone else think that phrase carries a lot of baggage?

It is incredibly interesting (to me at least) when a women in a senior public position has a baby and decides to return to work after five days. Just as it was interesting to many men when Steve Jobs decided, after some hesitation, to take time off work for health reasons. No one was hysterical - I was interested because it allowed me to reflect on the decisions I make in my own life.

Leaving aside the issue of celeb magazines where Hadley rightly points out the frustration of seeing women simultaneously lauded for losing baby weight while encouraging readers to hate them for their willpower and access to personal trainers, women should talk about other women in public life.

Why? Well there's not that many of them. There's something holding women back - whether it's in ourselves or in the workplace... or even in the media's perception of us.

We need to exhaust the discussion about work, success (whatever that means to each of us), careers, glass ceilings, women on the board and motherhood. Because until we are so familiar with the issues and the solutions there will always be petty prejudices and obstacles to equitable work/life opportunities.

As I read her article, I'm not entirely sure who she's berating. Is it me and others like me who have blogged and talked about Dati or is she furious with the press and women's magazines?

At least with a blog, I know I can get the last word.


Amanda said...

I can't believe you didn't stop reading that as soon as she compared having a baby to having a hernia. Seriously? Does anyone find that completely idiotic? Does a man have to choose whether or not to nurse his hernia after it comes out and then deal with the harsh public criticism that comes from whichever he chooses. Whatever, crazy lady.

The only thing I do think she is onto (if I'm not entirely missing the point) is that we women are entirely too judgemental of each other and get too caught up in one another's choices. That we women seem to be the only ones worrying about making the 'perfect' choice for our families. Men don't seem to be obsessing on these things the way we do. Know what I mean?

Very thought provoking. Great post, my dear.

Anonymous said...

I too wondered about getting back to work 5 days after giving birth. Very thought-provoking post, thank you.

I came to your blog via working mum on the verge BTW. I like the way you write.

Casdok said...

Interesting post with food for thought.

A Modern Mother said...

Like it or not people in public positions are going to be heavily scruntized. What else would we have to blog about, our kids?

Reluctant Housewife said...

To carry on from Amanda's point about women being more concerned about making the best choices for our families than are men (And Amanda - "Whatever, crazy lady." Ha! funny.

Um... right... I think that women have to be more concerned because the fact is that women are still largely responsible for the domestic scene and, as such, are much more heavily judged by other women and by society in general for the choices we make. We're hard on ourselves and we're hard on each other and maybe we all need to lighten up... But until we earn the same amount as men for the same work, until we can make the choice to focus on our families without being treated like second class citizens or make the choice to focus on our careers without being judge to be bad mothers... Well. I don't know. I'm talking in circles, I guess. Not sure where I'm going except to make the point that, for women, when it comes to trying to balance work and career - Is there a right choice? You always have to sacrifice something - either you sacrifice getting ahead in your career to take care of your family or you sacrifice time with your family to get ahead in your career. And having to make that choice sucks.

And men don't have to make the same hard choices. And they're scrutinized and judged far less than women for their choices, too.

And I'd like people to stop calling us hysterical everytime we try to talk about it...

Just sayin'

The Blonde Duck said...

Stopped in to say hello! Love your blog name!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

Thanks for dropping by Sass...and I haven't read Shantaram yet...probably only half those books are read...the others are in boxes in the garage...and all my ARt and literature tomes are in the lounge..
one cannot ever have enough books.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Interesting-- the last word part is the best! I went back to work when my oldest was only two weeks old because it had been inferred that I wouldn't have a job to go back to if I didn't. I have a LOT of resentment still for those people and it was 20 years ago!