Friday, May 29, 2009

Get to Work, You Hungover Hedonist!

If you're a childfree person and have had the pleasure of reading my Top 100 Reasons Not to Have Kids (and Remain Childfree), hopefully you've found much validation and vindication in that list. Everyone blabs on and on about why you should have kids, right? Well MY list blabs on and on about why you shouldn't have kids and why you should keep your life just as it is. Let me tell you my friends, as long as that list is, it took me all of about 30 minutes to create. One after another, the reasons to be childfree just tumbled out of me at such a speed that my fingers on the keyboard couldn't keep pace with my thoughts. I got to about number 85 before I even paused.

All of the reasons on that list are true and valid, but some are more clear cut black-and-white than others. For example number 94: "Your boss will appreciate having a reliable employee who works her full hours, calls out sick only rarely, can work overtime if needed, and take on special projects. You might even get a raise, or get promoted."

As a childfree employee, this benefit has been my direct experience many times over. My bosses have always appreciated my reliability and dedication to my job, my promptness, my energy, focus and flexibility to do what it takes to get the job done - even if that means coming in early, staying late or adjusting my schedule in other ways. My work ethic has led to several promotions over the years and now I am a boss. There is no doubt my quality as an employee is directly tied to my childfree lifestyle. Whereas my childed co-workers (and now that I am a boss, my staff) are calling out constantly - either because their kids are sick, or because they have once again caught an illness from their kid, leaving early because of this problem, that crisis, this doctor's appointment, that phone call from the child's school, flitting around the office with stacks of baby pictures wasting everyone's time with boring, long-winded baby stories, I am steadfastly stationed at my desk, taking care of business and getting the job done. While the moms in the office are taking 3 months off for maternity leave, leaving everyone high and dry, and then returning to work (unwillingly, only because they have to) with bags under their eyes and with half the work ethic, energy, focus and attention span they had before, I am reliably here, every work day with the same consistent focus and work ethic I've always had.

Well, apparently there is a vocal mom who takes the complete opposite viewpoint about childfree employees. CF Vixen, with the comment, "You HAVE to blog on this one - this woman is insane!", forwarded me an article by a person named Carol Sarler entitled Why Bosses are Right to Distrust Women who Don't Want Children who takes the viewpoint that childfree working women are self-centered, time-wasting slugs. A warning before you read this: be prepared for your head to explode.

Among other things, this mother asserts that:

1. Women who opt not to have children are weird, cold, calculating, sad and mad.

2. Childfree women are "single-track careerists" who lack "an essential humanity" and accordingly are refused jobs and denied promotions.

3. Mothers are great workers who bring something extra to the job. They are so adept at multi-tasking from all those superhuman feats they accomplish at home, like cooking, dressing and caring for their kids, this makes them extra competent, able and responsible on the job. By contrast, childfree people are staying out late at night (you know, leading that hedonistic, partying lifestyle we are all known to lead) and coming into work late with hangovers.

4. Working mothers who miss time from work RARELY fail to make up the time.

5. While childfree women employees are busy "competing for the attentions of the male executives", conducting office "bitch-fests" and hanging around the office wasting time, the tireless and saintly worker bee mothers are busy doing actual work so that they can keep shoes on their poor children's feet (as opposed to the selfish childfree women who only have to worry about putting shoes on their own feet).

6. Working moms - simply by nature of being mothers - are (here we go again) selfless, compassionate, generous, committed, loyal and hard workers (implying, of course, that childfree women are not) and what employer doesn't want those traits in an employee!?

7. Children make a woman complete and women who choose not to have them should be pitied for their weirdness.

8. Hurray for the employers who have finally caught on to the truth of what wonderful workers moms are and what self-centered, lazy slogs childfree workers are!

Readers, let the comments commence.

20 comments:

CFVixen said...

Ahhhh...the post I've been waiting for! It boggles the mind. I really cannot even comment except for what I wrote you in my original e-mail: the woman is insane!

Angela said...

That article is so pathetic, it boggles the mind. I still have no ability to comment to it.

3goodrats said...

I *wish* I had a hedonistic partying lifestyle! I give no credence to that person's assertions - it all sounds very defensive to me.

A said...

....yeah, but work SUCKS!!! Who wants to spend more time there than they absolutely have to? That, and I don't care about money, things, or prestige; time off to do what I want is far more precious to me than a few more little green paper bits.

So, in case I haven't been clear enough, EFF WORK!!!

-Job-free, child-free hedonist

KittyMom said...

That article just makes me SO ANGRY. I think I have a very fine work ethic thank you very much. I don't have to have taken care of kids to know how to do work, be loyal, work hard, be on time, be focused, all of that! Nor do I need children to "complete me as a woman." I am already complete, I was complete the day I was born! I wasn't born a half-person with a pathetic half-life that can only be whole if I pop out a kid. The author needs to realize people who choose to live differently than her are not "weird." Absolutely pathetic article.

Vivyan said...

Ugh this article pisses me off on so many levels. I like the way that she compares the negotiation skills needed in the workplace with those needed to get a kid to go to bed. Although I must admit, I'd rather have to deal with my customers than a whiny brat.

Schrodinger's Kittens said...

This smacks of a combination of “the lady protests too much” and “I’m afraid of anything different.” This woman seems like she’s gone as far as she’s going to get in life and despises women who choose to put their careers first and do the hard work to reach the top of the ladder, simply because she didn’t or couldn’t. I’d also like to see a reference for that “research” that says bosses prefer moms. In my work experience bosses just resign themselves to the idea that when a woman in a certain age bracket gets married, a baby will inevitably follow a year or two later. As a woman in that age bracket, I hate the association because every woman who drops out, whether for a few months or permanently, makes it that much harder for me to be taken seriously as a career-oriented woman.

And what kind of idiocy is this: “Two-thirds of working mothers, a recent survey found, could not provide for the children they love in the manner they would wish if they lost their jobs. So there's incentive for you.” Duh, I’m pretty sure that at least two-thirds of everybody could not provide for their loved ones—spouse, parents, siblings, or kids—the way they want to if they lost their job. Moms are somehow special in this regard?

So with all her talk about how moms may leave early but they make up for it on their lunch break (doubtful at best for most people, nobody wants to work through lunch), but oh, they insist on being out the door at five o’clock, all she’s said is that even if moms put their time in, they still expect special treatment when the clock hits five, whether the work’s done or not. Entitlement rears its head once again. Typical.

Childfreeeee said...

"Duh, I’m pretty sure that at least two-thirds of everybody could not provide for their loved ones—spouse, parents, siblings, or kids—the way they want to if they lost their job. Moms are somehow special in this regard?"

Well, I guess since we childfree people have no responsibilities and spend all our money getting drunk at the bar every night and buying tons of shoes for ourselves, we can AFFORD to lose our jobs, whereas responsible people with kids actually have important things to spend their hard-earned money on.

Diana said...

Here's the "study" that Sarler was talking about that was in the DailyMail: http://tinyurl.com/qemdo5. I noticed that Sarler took the content out of context (What a shock!). There's a line that says "Women of child-bearing age can also be overlooked for more senior roles because employers are unsure whether they are likely to have a baby soon." Well that would make sense. The researcher concludes that "working women can't win." So both sides get screwed.

Othello Cat said...

The writer of that obnoxious article also cops a spray from users of this site: http://www.feministing.com/archives/015591.html

As "Diana" has observed, what is interesting is that journalist Carol Sarler never actually cites the research directly, only refering to it nebulously:

"It was welcome news, therefore, to discover this week that I am not alone. Research conducted over six years shows that far from bosses and colleagues always being suspicious of a working mother, the opposite is becoming true: it is the childless woman who is regarded as cold and odd."

In fact the original author of the research, was empathetic towards the systematic and unfair discrimination faced by childless/free women.

Professional women who opt not to have children often are "vilified at work" as supervisors view them as less than human, according to research by Dr. Caroline Gatrell of the Lancaster University Management School in the U.K. Gatrell says many supervisors view these women as "cold, odd and somehow emotionally deficient in an almost dangerous way that leads to them being excluded from promotions that would place them in charge of others."

In other words, childless/free women are unfairly vilified.

But that (self-described and so self-aware) hack twisted the story to suggest that the research somehow "proved" that childless/free women were inept workers.

The same site has another article, this time empathising with CF women. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1183895/Childless-women-vilified-bosses-Why-NOT-having-family-ruin-career.html

The readers' comments are interesting -- watch out for "Diane" and how many readers give her a deserved serve for her anti-CF comments.

Childfreeeee said...

Yes, basically the research just confirms what we already know, and what much of this blog is about - how childfree (esp. childfree women) are marginalized, stigmatized, pitied and misunderstood. Does it happen in the workplace? Perhaps, but I have mostly found my childfree status to be a bonus as far as work is concerned. I may have gotten an odd (or surprised) look here and there from coworkers when they find out I am childfree by choice, but never have I been held back on my career track or treated with suspicion by any supervisors. I have only found my childfree status to be advantageous to me in the workplace and have noticed that it's the moms that experience career setbacks.

There is definitely some unfairness surrounding people with kids leaving early, getting preferential treatment with time off, etc. and the childfree expected to be more flexible and pick up their slack (since there is this erroneous idea that since we don't have kids, we don't have a life).

But I can honestly say that I have NEVER felt I was perceived as cold or inhuman by any supervisor for my choice not to have kids.

Miss Knotty said...

I'm neither hungover nor a hedonist, but I don't think this 'mother' has a realistic view of motherhood. That crap about cooking a family breakfast and delivering the kids to school on time before arriving to work dressed, ready, and on time, is a crock. Most of the time the kids have run mom late, she looks a mess and they're lucky they got a breakfast bar (that they dug out of the pantry themselves). I agree with Schrodinger's Kittens - she does protest too much. I have a fine work ethic, and I don't stroll in to work late OR hungover. And I don't bore my coworkers with stories about my new Precious Darling, be that a boyfriend, cat, or whatever (although I do occasionally get yarn shipments at work, and I MIGHT occasionally coo over them. But who wouldn't coo over cashmere?)

StayTheCurse said...

This woman's claims are so mind-bogglingly divorced from reality, it's like arguing with a lunatic through the bars of the asylum..BTW, does she bother to explain why there have been so many legal battles by employers AGAINST maternity favoritism?Doesn't sound much like trust to me..

StayTheCurse said...

I googled this woman out of curiosity; she's writes regularly for a British tabloid (this would explain the objective, fact-based insights!). Her other articles are equally loony (she appears to ditch her maternal instinct in one; claiming that a friend's autistic son would be better off never having been born..?!), but, since I was on the paper's site, I submitted this reply to the CF-mentioned article:

Ms. Sarler is either demented, or the 'office' she complains of from first-hand experience was a surrogate breeder station..there not only is no statistical, or even anecdotal, evidence to her claims, common knowledge dictates that the opposite is true - with no child-induced distractions, missed work, maternity leave disputes, and eventual quitting to stay home with the little sods, child-free women (and men) are the ideal employees. Sounds like someone's professional failures coincided with her post-natal hormone flareups!

Erin said...

Oy vey! This article DID make my head explode! I wonder what the author's opinion is on her male counterparts: do men who are fathers make better employees than men without kids? The irony is that that is not even a discussion. No one would think of having such a debate.

As a human resources manager, the bottom line comes down to people who get the work done, without regard to their personal lives. Although I will admit that oftentimes it's the employees with no kids or those whose kids are grown and out of the house who have the ability, interest, and time to commit additional resources to their careers.

Corrinne said...

I wrote a paper about the so-called glass cieling. The main reason women don't earn as much as men in a lifetime is because they take more time off due to family, maternity leave, etc. This drags the average lifetime income of a women down greatly.

This isn't exactly on topic. The only other factor was what kind of degree they received(ie: teaching vs. engineering).

So... wouldn't that point to the fact that women who have children spend a significant amount of time out of work, therefore (overall, not every single one) making them sub par workers?

Fanboy Wife said...

How infuriating! So, according to this woman, all women are mothers, unhealthy, insane, or cold-odd-weird-careerists? These are the only options? This is extremely insulting. I don’t have any children, but my job is not my life. I am good at my job, and I am always on time, I have never been hung-over (let alone shown up to work that way), I dress very conservatively, and I have demonstrated time and time again that I know about “selflessness, compassion, generosity, commitment, loyalty, and plain hard work.” However, I have friends, hobbies, and other activities that fill my time in addition to my job.

Besides, isn’t it illegal to ask people about their family statuses in a job interview? Having or not having children cannot be a factor in hiring employees.

Tessa said...

That article was outrageous. And again, I am late, but this article infuriated me!!! I have an excellent work ethic, and contrary to what she assumes about women who don't want children, I actually dislike heavy drinking and partying. I love to have a good time, but I do so in a responsible manner and have never been late/absent to class or work because of partying and drinking. I am in a committed relationship with my significant other, and we are extremely loyal to each other and I experience great love with him every day. I am also a very warm and caring person who generally doesn't like to "bitch" (although we all have our moments :P), and when I originally informed my friends and family that I don't want children, they appear shocked and talk about how great a mother I would be.

So this lady is clearly wacked and has a very stereotypical (and false) view of the childfree. Unbelievable!

Pamela said...

Thar article, oh man I hated it because I've had those type of responses in person.

How many can someone hear we are lacking an essential humanity before we go a bit crazy? We're all bar hopping hung over self-absorbed freaks, although I've never once gone to work hung over, and it's not my love of sleeping in or travel that makes me childless by choice.

It doesn't matter what you do in this life, who you love, how much you love your nieces and nephews if you can't bring yourself to love the idea of kids there are a lot of people who treat you like heartless trash. I just can't make myself want that life and so I choose not to risk having a child who doesn't have a mother who is thoroughly in love with him. It's selfish that I don't just have kids to meet your ridiculous expectations for all women? Somebody has to explain this to me.

People can't convince me to want kids any more than I could convince someone who wants it with all their heart and soul that they SHOULDN'T want them. I told my mom when I was a toddler I wasn't going to have my own kids, at 30 people still don't trust my judgment of my own mind. Still waiting for that promised "You'll change your mind".

Pamela said...

Thar article, oh man I hated it because I've had those type of responses in person.

How many can someone hear we are lacking an essential humanity before we go a bit crazy? We're all bar hopping hung over self-absorbed freaks, although I've never once gone to work hung over, and it's not my love of sleeping in or travel that makes me childless by choice.

It doesn't matter what you do in this life, who you love, how much you love your nieces and nephews if you can't bring yourself to love the idea of kids there are a lot of people who treat you like heartless trash. I just can't make myself want that life and so I choose not to risk having a child who doesn't have a mother who is thoroughly in love with him. It's selfish that I don't just have kids to meet your ridiculous expectations for all women? Somebody has to explain this to me.

People can't convince me to want kids any more than I could convince someone who wants it with all their heart and soul that they SHOULDN'T want them. I told my mom when I was a toddler I wasn't going to have my own kids, at 30 people still don't trust my judgment of my own mind. Still waiting for that promised "You'll change your mind".