Why does The Telegraph put its parent blog in its Woman section?
Because it does, you know. And, I have to admit, it irks me.
It probably shouldn’t: After all, the paper is just grouping parenting stories where its readership would expect to find them. Where, probably, most of society would expect to find them.
Let’s face it: the assumption is still that children are, generally, only of interest to women. Some retailers announce their gender expectations at the door: Mothercare. JoJo Maman Bebe. Vertbaudet, the French clothing retailer, recently emailed me a flier proclaiming that its goods were ‘hand-picked by mums’. My daughters’ nearest playgroup is still identified by the ‘Mother and Toddler’ sign tacked to the gate. Of course fathers are welcome, but no-one questions the sign – the words mother and child have been woven together in the collective psyche for a long time now.
There’s no hiding from the reason for this. Women still do most of the childcare. No doubt, Vertbaudet are well aware of who usually orders clothing from their kids ranges. And anyone who steps beyond the ‘Mother and Toddler’ sign at our playgroup will walk into a room filled mostly by… women and toddlers.
By any practical measure, childcare is still seen as women’s work.
But that doesn’t make it a woman’s issue. The vast majority of full-time childcare is done by women, for sure. But then, the majority of full-time drivers are men and it would surely be absurd to say that this makes driving a man’s issue. That many people still think of it as such is likely down to how all things ‘car’ tend to be marketed.
Which brings me back to The Telegraph parenting blog (it’s called Mother Tongue, so there’s no doubting which parent it’s really aimed at). The blog has a fair number of male contributors (as a very reasonable twitter follower pointed out to me) and this in itself is evidence that attitudes are shifting. I would agree, but I also think this misses the point – which is that parenting is not a woman’s issue, it’s a parent issue. ONS figures show that nearly 10 per cent of full-time childcare is done by men today and there are plenty of Dads writing about their experiences, so there’s no reason to keep assuming men aren’t interested. Society still sees childcare as women’s work because it is still promoted as such. I think it’s time that changed.