Wednesday, February 04, 2004

One of my students has started a blog, after I introduced her class to blogs in three hectic days. Her initiation is through frustration - she was outraged with how the editor treated some of her writing in an online college news-service - but quickly flows into wonder about the modern society, technology, and life as a young woman at the start of her career. In this post she links to an article in, concerning the reality of being young, female, a mother and professional. In the article the younger women attack the older generation, saying that they should have been warned! At the age of 30 they have education, good jobs and kids, and discover that the modern society isn't built for that many tasks. Children can not be managed away, and the workplace or the economy has no room for caring for children. Why didn't the older feminists tell them?

For long periods I have been the only woman teaching in the Media Department at Volda College. It is a job where it is expected that you work more than a full day. Taking work home is second nature. Spending afternoons preparing or updating on subjects I need to know about is a lifestyle. I have tried to warn class after class of girls about the attitudes and demands of society, still lingering out there. They have told me that feminism has nothing to do with them. They can have education, jobs and all the sex they like, same as their fellow male students. Feminism is for manhating lesbians or angry, disappointed, bitter bitches.

I wish that was true. I want to tell the girls that the shame psychologist Sissel Gran reports from her flood of letters from unhappy young women is needless. In these letters, the young women write how they feel. They "ought to" shut up and be grateful that they have an equal chance at work and family. But it isn't like that yet. Their problems are real. Their struggles are real. The inequality is real. It may however be time to realise that men are as trapped as women in the time-trap. It is time to liberate the men and say it is permitted for them to take their time with their children. Norwegian legislation puts increasing emphasis on this, and men are slowly starting to take advantage of that. It doesn't help single mothers right away, but these changes take time.

And girls - I am sure somebody tried to warn you it would be rough. But shame is a very efficient tool of oppression. "Shut up and be grateful" still works.