Sometimes you learn things that make you realise how ignorant you were. I really didn’t know much about gender roles in Germany until J-Bro sent me an article a few days ago. I kind of assumed Germany would be really good on gender equality, support for working mothers, etc. Not like Sweden or Finland, but certainly at least as good as the UK and probably better. How wrong I was:
Manuela Maier was branded a bad mother. A Rabenmutter, or raven mother, after the black bird that pushes chicks out of the nest. She was ostracized by other mothers, berated by neighbors and family, and screamed at in a local store.
Her crime? Signing up her 9-year-old son when the local primary school first offered lunch and afternoon classes last autumn — and returning to work.
Not quite believing what I was reading (most schools in Germany end before lunch; West German wives needed their husbands’ permission to work until 1977; only 3% of 3 year olds have nursery places in the former West Germany), I checked with a German woman I know. She told me it was all true, and that well-educated urban people in their 20s tell her with some regularity that she should conceal her intellect so as not to put the menfolk off.
I’m learning too many depressing new things this week. (Thanks, J-Bro and T!)