The Economist: ‘Most Germans remain surprisingly traditional in their views of the sexes’

We continue to despair of the Economist with respect to its treatment of gender-related matters. Our thanks to M for pointing us to this piece in its latest edition:

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21592669-most-germans-remain-surprisingly-traditional-their-views-sexes-mann-and-frau

From the article:

Eastern Germany, with its Communist legacy, may be quite advanced in some aspects of gender equality – young mothers tend to use child care early and return to work quickly, for instance. But western Germany, so proudly progressive in many other ways, remains surprisingly conservative in attitudes to gender equality.

So the Economist considers the former East Germany ‘advanced’ in some aspects of gender equality, such as young mothers returning to work quickly, and the former West Germany ‘surprisingly conservative’. The world’s turned upside down when even the Economist peddles left-wing narratives on gender-related issues, but it’s consistently done so for some years. Nowhere in the article is there any exploration of the apparent conundrum (given the paper’s analysis) that the more economically successful region of Germany – the former West – is also the most socially conservative.

It’s a simple truism that the German economy has long been stronger than the UK’s economy, in part due to a highly impressive manufacturing sector. In the UK, unlike in Germany, successive government’s policies have continued to force mothers with children into paid employment, regardless of the impact on women’s and children’s happiness, and children’s development. The Conservative-led coalition hasn’t changed the direction of travel. Shamefully, for a Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne has said imperiously that stay-at-home parents are exercising a ‘lifestyle choice’. Financial considerations – driven by the tax system, in the main – ensure that few women in Britain today are able to exercise that choice.

We anticipate proposing in our 2015 election manifesto that personal tax allowances be transferable in full between partners who have children under 16 years of age living with them.

About Mike Buchanan

I'm a men's human rights advocate, writer, and publisher. My primary focus is leading the political party I launched in 2013, Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them). I still work actively on two campaigns I launched in early 2012, Campaign for Merit in Business and the Anti-Feminism League. In 2014 I launched The Alternative Sexism Project, aiming to raise public understanding that the sexism faced by men and boys has far more grievous consequences than the sexism faced by women and girls.
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  • One of the paradoxes of northern European obsession with long maternity leave and flexible part time work for women is that these countries also have the highest occupational segregation. With women concentrated in the service and mainly state sector. Interestingly in the former Communist states where there was little or no provision for maternity leave and no tradition of part time work so women worked full time. This pattern has often continued into EU membership with the result that pay gaps and occupational segregation are lower and senior women in the industrial productive sectors are more common. Similar to Italy and Malta . The lesson appears clear that equality in the workplace relies on equal work , and the push to part time work and paid time off has actually the reverse effect. This was actually identified by researches in these Nordic countries a decade ago. Characteristically the feminist policy response has been to push for more and then compulsory fathers leave. With the result that in Sweden the state sector became more female and the productive sector s more male as men worked in jobs that allowed them to continue their work! In terms of supporting families the German and Dutch “one and a half job” family seems to suit mothers and fathers. And their economic efficiency. But it is clearly not as conducive to Fawcet Style equality, for that the sisters need to look to Poland and other      ex communist countries as well as southern European nations where the absence of maternity leave or part time jobs does mean fewer women work but those that do do so in a wider range of occupation and management. Of course this does mean that the women have to work hard and long. 
    So a review of Europe shows that quite practical issues drive differences in “gender equality” and many of the key feminist policies in favour in northern europe are likely to cement in “traditional” divisions of labour in families by being “family friendly”. And in a amusing paradox the policies of “communist” countries and traditional Italy actually do the reverse for the women choosing to work in effect on the same terms as men. Proof both of Catherine Hakim’s preference theory, of Warren Farrells’ opus on the behaviours required to earn more and a refutation of “patriarchy” as an explanation. It seems the countries behind the Iron Curtain did achieve equality at work but by giving women no choice . Being fair some feminists do advocate women not having the choice to stay at home or work flexibly. At least they are intellectually honest. Most advocate choice and when the inevitable result is occupational segregation and few women on the boards in the productive sector they have to resort to Quotas and discrimination against men

    • Jericho One

      Very interesting. I lived in northern Italy during the 80s and there was just as many women in industry as men – female workplace injuries were also common… In countries where women are not privileged in terms of working conditions and make-work jobs, there seems to be stronger communities and less social segregation. Is there a possible link?

      IMHO, where labour is divided, there is always a lack of empathy towards those doing the least rewarding jobs and a tendency towards further exploitation of these sub-groups (especially if it’s an all-male sub-group).

  • Jericho One

    Germans also value blue collars and the skilled workforce, unlike ‘advanced’ countries such as ours where it is stigmatised.

  • Interesting points. I am reminded of “judgey bitch” and her observation on the chores done by her and her two brothers. As she said an early example that the outside nasty stuff being her siblings jobs. In poorer europe there is both a much bigger, and less mechanised agricultural sector. Where men and women have to work hard and can see each other doing so. Even in the era of capitalism mining, heavy industry”dark satanic mills” were worked by men and women. Recognisably hard and with few of either sex free from the need to earn. Yet in my lifetime, in south Lancashire at least,work as hard graft has sort of dissappeared. The great mills, mines,vast steel works and so on have faded from the skyline. Hard work still goes on but is sort of invisible and instead vast shopping malls and offices tower. Perhaps feminism can thrive when all the hard stuff making maintaining our world is a sort of background frosted glass cellar and what we can see is shopping and office working.A dis connect just a bit like “upstairs downstairs” . Fawcett society demands for quotas for professions, degrees, boardrooms reflects that they simply don’t see all the work being done beyond the air conditioned offices and shiny malls. As we found in Britain wealth based on shopping and admin. ends up in individual and collective debt.

    • Jericho One

      “Hard work still goes on but is sort of invisible and instead vast shopping malls and offices tower.”

      It certainly does, I still do it. Four-hour contract, minimum wage, anti-social hours, no paid holidays, no sick pay and definitely no pension scheme – yet still required to pay a disproportionate amount of taxes so others can live the life of Riley.

      “…they simply don’t see all the work being done beyond the air conditioned offices and shiny malls.”

      Unless they’ve done their fair share of hard graft and experienced workplace injuries – it’s very difficult to develop empathy. These people are one or more generation/s removed from manual work.

      “As we found in Britain wealth based on shopping and admin. ends up in individual and collective debt.”

      Ironically, it was Thatcher who feminists hate that made the necessary infrastructure changes that led to our present day service-based economy.