Unsurprisingly, Kate agrees with Thompson, in her usual barbed style that involves kicking her sisters, hard, with her spiky stilettos at every opportunity. It's another chance for the Cactus to show that she really doesn't seem to like children, mothers, or indeed other women very much at all.
The comments that follow Cactus's post mostly expand on this theme, although with some notable disagreement, thank goodness. The view that is particularly bugging me tonight, from the post and the comments, is the idea that married women who aren't in paid work and are raising children are not contributing anything of value to their relationship or family.
We've seen this view from CK before, and no doubt will again. I don't expect my post to change her mind. Perhaps the only thing that will change her mind is being in that position herself; partnered up and not in paid employment for some reason, be it child-related or otherwise. And she's pretty clear that's not on her agenda, ever, so I guess that's that then.
But for other people who seem to not notice the very real value that someone not in paid work adds to a household, there are quite a lot of points I could raise, including:
- The caring, nurturing work - not necessarily just children either, it could be about parents who need extra attention, other family members, friends, and of course the paid partner. It's my observation that often this stuff, which is vital to maintaining friendships and family relationships, is more likely to be carried out by an at home partner, to the significant benefit of both. As small scale as sorting all the Xmas presents, as big as nursing someone who is terminally ill, this is unpaid work that can be arduous, dirty, annoying, rewarding, time-consuming, and is essential. Much of it can't easily (or cheaply) be contracted out of either, and even if you can arrange it getting someone else to do it can fracture relationships irreparably.
- Volunteer work - can even bring significant kudos to the paid partner, not to mention the community benefits. While I personally think it is enough that it often gives you a sense of achievement, a chance to contribute meaningfully to something you care about, skills, friendships and contacts, it is perhaps worth mentioning to the more Cactus-minded that volunteer work by the unpaid can also provide vital networking opportunities for the paid partner, not to mention they could even claim some involvement on their CV by association.
- Running a household - no longer as full-on as in Jane Austen's time, but nonetheless often significant. Particularly during renovations, just ask my least-favourite Listener columnist, Joanne Black. Making sure the bills are paid, there's enough food to eat, the toilet gets unblocked, the bed linen is clean, the holiday gets booked, there are clean work clothes, the neighbours don't hate you, the mail is cleared... you get the idea. Add children to the mix and this work expands exponentially. Even if you pay someone else to clean, cook, shop, nanny, there's still always unpaid work to be done in this area, not least coordinating, paying and instructing any paid workers helping out.
It bothers me that Kate's language is all about married women who she reckons sponge off men. It's almost as if it's in the wedding vows: "I promise to take as much as possible and give as little as I can get away with, at least until I'm likely to get a significant divorce settlement, at which point I will stop giving anything at all."
I don't know if I've ever seen a marriage that has worked like that, even the ones that have ended before death do them part. Maybe it's because I also don't know anyone who sends their children to Kings. Or has a 4WD and never goes off-road.