Growing up in the fifties, a working class female, I always knew my destiny was to work for a living. A working class man’s income, even a highly skilled man, was not necessarily sufficient to support a family. At the time it was customary for married middle class women to not go out to work. It was a mark of their status, of which they were proud. Besides, there was little point, as not many jobs that women were allowed to do paid a living wage. But being working class I knew the necessity to get a good job, with decent pay and conditions and prospects for promotion. I might have to support myself. Also I would have little chance of marrying a good man without earning a decent wage. Being a working class female meant getting a good job ahead of everything else. Your life depended on it.
Then feminism came along. On the face of it, it should have been an improvement. In some ways it was. Access to reliable contraception meant not living in a continuous condition of Vatican roulette. As pay equalised middle class women decided to do a volte face and flooded into the workplace. Not starting at the bottom and working their way up, which was the procedure for working class women, but starting half way up the ladder. The old boys network had simply become an old girls network as well. Overnight the few middle class vacancies that able working class men, and even fewer working class women aspired to, vanished.
The attitude to work of working class and middle class women was different. Working class women needed their jobs. But for many middle class women their work was secondary to their lifestyle. My mother worked as a Head Librarian. One of her biggest headaches was ensuring cover for unsocial hours – evening shifts and Saturdays. She was constantly frustrated by the unwillingness of the exclusively middle class wives to cover times that they viewed as making inroads into their lifestyle. Suddenly they couldn’t cover because of family responsibilities, or their husband didn’t like them working evenings. My Mother commented through gritted teeth, that that was not what they had said at the interview. I asked her why were those women employed? A single working class woman, with equal qualifications, would have been dedicated to her job. My Mother answered, she was not the one doing the employing.
Once working class women started competing with middle class women for the same jobs, the rules of the game changed. Again, in the name of feminism. Overnight it was made illegal for prospective employers to discriminate against women planning to have children. So social class won again as the advantage to employers of giving the job to a single, childless woman, was kicked into the long grass.
Social class advantage is not surrendered lightly. After all, social rank trumps virtually every other characteristic a person can have. Men treasure their social advantages over women, and have always defended them fiercely. So why was feminism accepted with so little opposition?
I suggest the reason is that when the higher social class men thought about it they realised they and their relatives could corner the market in all the best jobs that exist in society, their households would become professional income doubled, men like to marry wealth, and completely blocking upward mobility from the lower ranks of society was a bonus, reinforcing social class advantage.
Women holding high ranking jobs is not necessarily a sign of female equality. In the most unequal societies in the world women do occupy high ranking positions, because of nepotism. It is not an indicator that a woman on the bottom rung of the ladder can work her way to the top. The present calls for equalising the numbers of women in the boardroom I suspect is more pretend feminism, as the issue is simply to open up more lucrative positions for the highest ranking women.
At last there is recognition of the polarisation of wealth in society. The poor have got poorer while the rich have got richer. Many reasons for this have been offered, but feminism, or more accurately, fake feminism, is a contributing factor. I believe double professional income families are one of the factors driving up the price of housing, as prices on the most desirable properties rise to meet the incomes available. Double professional income families are also behind the trend to own more than one home.
Prior to the changes feminism brought, a working class man and woman, both working, between them could access an income not too far below a single professional income family. And upward mobility was limited, but possible.
After feminism, middle class women and higher took full advantage of the old boys network now including them, and totally cornered the market in society’s best jobs. Now with the dissolution of national boundaries, under another fake equality banner, this time racism, the elite of all countries now cherry pick the best jobs going anywhere, and middle class people are finding their avenues for promotion closed off. As this elite group corner the market in these enormously highly paid jobs, they also hike the prices of the best housing and buy multiple homes in various parts of the world, inflating house prices everywhere. As house price inflation occurs their wealth increases.
I believe feminism was allowed because it provided an acceptable cover to maximise social class advantage. The laws against discrimination on the grounds of race and the propaganda war against national sovereignty are a smokescreen hiding extensions of upper class privilege. Nullifying the otherwise reasonable argument – why employ a foreigner in this top post when there is no shortage of suitably qualified local applicants?