Work, childcare, ending gender

Zoe Williams writes here about recent statistics on fathers’ participation in childcare and workplace strategies for enabling this – they indicate relatively low participation (1 in 20 refusing payrise, 1 in 10 going part time – though it is not clear whether the data concerns all men, or all men who are fathers). Her take, similarly to Okin’s (1989), seems to be that until we ‘end gender’ – in particular, the assumptions about who does what, family-structure-wise – problems of equal participation in the work place and the family will remain.

She recommends that men should sacrifice the potential to earn more in the short term, in order to take advantage of, and normalise, the working structures that permit more equal participation in childcare. Interesting that this is expressed all in terms of ‘sacrifice’, rather than emphasising the surely many good things for men who have more participation in the family…

A different take on labiaplasty

Sarah Mundy, who runs a site called “All About My Vagina”, offers some very different thoughts on labiaplasty, which we discussed earlier here and here. The question, again, is where women get the idea that their labia are “wrong” and need surgery. Mundy is not convinced that pornography is the source of this. She says that the many, many women she hears from have generally not seen pornography. Mundy’s theory (not sure what I think of it) is that the anxiety comes from the fact that women acquire their idea of what their genitalia look like in childhood, and then are horrified by changes at puberty.

Interestingly, Mundy also cites anecdotes from women (including herself) who have come to realise that their labia are normal after seeing pornography. (If use of homogenised, surgically altered labia in porn is recent, this could be a phenomenon of the past.) Importantly, she points out that women are very quickly “cured” by simply seeing some photographs showing the variety of normal female genitalia. Sounds like a good case for some very explicit sex education. (An insane fantasy, of course, in the US.)