This is a question which came up when a friend of mine, let’s call him X, got turned down for a job he knows damn well he can do, and is convinced he could do better than any of the other applicants. We ended up having a long conversation about the state of the economy, and the ‘duty’ of businesses to provide work experience. He was in a catch 22, no one will give him a job until he has experience, but he can’t get experience until he gets a job – I myself am in this situation (which is why I have an MA but work in a cafe… but that’s a rant for another time) but our views on our situations are somewhat different.
Our discussion led to a more macro-level debate about how the economy got this way in the first place, X is convinced it was because of feminism leading to both partners in a family working, which led to an increase in the workforce, which led to a devaluing of wages, which fundamentally means that now it isn’t economically viable for only one partner to work. Combine this with an increase in people with degrees and you have a massive, overqualified workforce who all need jobs to live, and a generation of latch-key kids. X thinks that fundamentally we need to go back to a one partner being the homemaker and one being the bread-winner system for the betterment of society. He is quite happy with the idea of the man staying at home, or the woman, whichever works for the given couple.
I see feminism slightly differently. He sees the situation from the macro level, society wide changes which benefit everyone. I take a fundamentally more selfish (and I think more realistic) viewpoint. I wonder what makes people happy? I know men and women who’d be happy to be homemakers, but not many, most feel that a job is what makes life fulfilling, alongside having a family. This may be societal conditioning brought about by feminism… who knows, but fundamentally I think everyone deserves to be happy. I’m an atheist. I know in my heart it’s one shot and that’s it, so you’d better make it the best damn shot you can. I like to think that people have a moral compass like mine which means they have some guilt about being socially irresponsible, but if someone wants to live off a welfare state doing nothing, and that makes them happy, who can blame them for making that decision?
Fundamentally, I know that almost everything I do is motivated in some way by increasing my happiness, perhaps I’m lucky in that making other people happy genuinely makes me happy, so that I like to cook for others (within reason saying that… I do like my kindness to be repaid).
I think I’ve lost the plot a bit with this post, I may revisit it later and make it a bit more cohesive in it’s argument, but for now, I just wanted a record of my thoughts.